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IgoUgo's Most Helpful and Hilarious Layover Advice

IgoUgo's Most Helpful and Hilarious Layover Advice Photo

Photo by milky way

Posted on November 11, 2008 in Travel Tips

When we asked you how you pass your time during layovers, we knew we’d get some entertaining answers. We didn’t predict, though, that they’d involve arrests and some antics for which you should have been arrested. Of course, there were plenty of good, lawful ideas, too. So here is what to do and what not to do on layovers, according to IgoUgo travelers who have tried everything.

Pampering Yourself

What to Do
Find a spa and follow the advice of the traveler who “had a massage in the Bangkok airport” and called it, with self-congratulations, a “great idea.” Another traveler “got leg massages and took a shower at Singapore Changi,” and yet another “had a wicked-long auto-chair massage at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, replete with much ooooohing and ahhhhing.” And a layover at Narita Airport near Tokyo yielded someone a “shower, shave, etc., for $5/half-hour” along with a side of “free Internet at Yahoo Internet Cafe.”

What Not to Do
If you skip the spa and freshen up in the restroom, make sure all embarrassing objects are turned off and carefully stowed. One traveler responded, “I had one of those talking ‘That was easy’ buttons from an office-supply place go off in the restroom. It was in my carry-on luggage in an outside pocket, and I was trying to get out of one of the small stalls, and I must have hit the wall. All of the sudden it went off and said, ‘That was easy,’ and everyone in the bathroom busted out laughing.” After your rest stop, grab a bite, but steer away from coffee and junk food; one layover resulted in an IgoUgo member “breaking the self-serve coffee machine in the Toronto airport” and “water running everywhere,” and many travelers express regret over “eating junk food” and “eating lots more junk food.” Also avoid the tactics of the ladies who “sponge-bathed in the restroom,” “took a spit bath in the ladies-room sink,” and “clipped finger- and toenails.” Even if it feels like your airline is ignoring you, you are still visible to other travelers.

Staying Active

What to Do
Stretch your plane legs inside of or near the airport. One traveler “went swimming in the rooftop pool of the Singapore airport." Another “surfed at a local beach.” Several “ran the halls to get some much-needed exercise” or “took the time to stretch and do yoga.” One yogi even claims her poses are enhanced by the hectic surroundings, saying that “being anonymous in an airport is quite peaceful to me.” You might even seek a partner in crime, as one respondent says he has “exercised with other travelers.”

What Not to Do
On the other hand, you might be better off on your own. We can’t endorse the random activity of travelers who said, as one put it, that they “just met someone and after 10 minutes of conversation decided to spend the time ‘pleasantly’ together.” And we think most travelers can hatch an activity plan that’s more exciting than “counting the number of steps it takes to walk from one end of Terminal A to the end of Terminal C in the DFW airport.”

Getting Some Rest

What to Do
Get creative and get beyond the gate area before you conk out. One poll respondent “hung out in the children’s play area because there were no kids around and it was the most tranquil place around the terminal.” A second person “slept in the children's rec area overnight in O’Hare Chicago.” And several said they have “slept in the USO after it was closed”—one atop a pool table.

What Not to Do
If you’re still not convinced, here are three reasons not to drift off in that gate area, from the stories of three embarrassed travelers:
“Fell asleep at the gate and snored so loudly that a security guard woke me to tell me I was disturbing everyone else at the gate.”
“Fell asleep at a gate only to be woken up by a stranger to tell me everyone had moved to the new gate 32 gates away.”
“Fell asleep while trying to listen to a lady tell me her whole life story. When I woke up she was still talking and assumed I had missed nothing.”

Finding Leisure Pursuits

What to Do
If you have enough time, venture outside the airport. One beer lover “left the airport to visit a microbrewery” and says, “it was the best layover ever!” Another lucky guy “took the train into the city, had a great dinner, came back, and got upgraded for waiting!” In Honduras, one traveler “rented a car and drove into the countryside for five hours,” and in another story, someone opted to “ride the city bus all over town.” Those more pressed for time said they have “gone to the airport museum” and “gone to the airport casino—and WON!” For the more adventurous, there’s always “playing in the fountain of an airport,” an answer given by more than one playful person. And for the less spontaneous? Consider this story: “Once, I actually read the fine print under ‘rules of carriage’ on the back of the ticket.” If you feel like beginning or ending your trip with even more sightseeing, several travelers report having ridden trams around entire airports—“repeatedly.”

What Not to Do
Layovers can be frustrating under the best of circumstances, so join us in pitying those travelers who said they “got arrested.” Others engaged in activities for which they could have ended up in handcuffs, including those who “streaked” and “tried to walk onto other flights without a boarding pass.” (Two different people, although we’re assuming the streaker didn’t have a boarding pass in his pocket, either.) And you’ll want to avoid busying yourself by dwelling on your own problems, which didn’t work out well for those who “wept out of sheer fatigue and frustration for the better part of an hour,” “had an anxiety attack,” and “drank too much.” (One drinker had so many glasses of Guinness in Dublin’s airport that he almost passed right by the father-in-law he was to meet.) On the other hand, a drink or two can be a good way to pass the time: one traveler “had an outdoor pint at the après-opera pub while pretending to have just been blown away by the performance [he] didn't see—apparently it went swimmingly.”

Making New Friends

What to Do
Most travelers seem to enjoy the random connections made on layovers (with people, not flights). One IgoUgo member who “spent the day with a stranger when stranded due to weather” says that the new friend “made a lousy situation much brighter,” even though the member missed his brother’s wedding due to the delay. More than one respondent rented a car with people they’d just met to reach their final destinations. Another “became a spokesperson for the travelers affected,” and someone “played Truth or Dare with a stranger.” Poker between passengers is popular, as is getting to know the people with whom you are traveling. “Chatted to my boss for five hours,” said one traveler. “Never really spoke before that and we got to know each other very well!” A romantic “met an Israeli soldier in Tel Aviv”—one who kept her company all night long, bought her coffee, and traded paperbacks with her. (That will be our little secret from the traveler who said the strangest thing he’s done in an airport was “pay full price for a paperback book.”) Another idea is to use the time to reconnect with old friends. Several people have squeezed in meals with local friends or called relatives for impromptu reunions. And one person “retrieved a traveling pet from cargo so he could be walked.” A good friend, indeed.

What Not to Do
Travelers who reported trying these things at airports can attest to their absurdity: calling an ex after a breakup; going skinny-dipping with other travelers; singing carols with strangers; speaking with a fake accent; assuming a false identity; and participating in photo shoots while in costume and character. Another thing someone did not enjoy was “overhearing a horse trainer explain how a horse gives birth.” Some rabble-rousers take advantage of new friends, which seems like a bad idea when one of them could end up in the seat next to you on the plane. One “told an annoying fellow traveler that I paid half of what he had paid and that I was not being delayed because the airline was giving me VIP treatment.” Another says: “I gave legal advice; I have no legal background. Found out later it saved the person thousands of dollars. I was assuming a false identity at the time.” And finally, no matter how long you’ve been chatting with your gate-mates, don’t leave your stuff with them. One traveler says, “In San Diego last year, I was sitting next to a young woman with a toddler and we'd chatted briefly. Then she asked me to watch her stuff while she went to change the baby's diaper. I knew this was a no-no in today's security-conscious airport world, but said okay. Then I was immediately paranoid. Was there a bomb in her carry-on or shopping bag? She seemed to be gone for a long time. I moved farther away from her stuff and watched nervously for her return. I was preparing for the explosion—or to call security—when she finally got back. I won't do that again.” We should note that we believe we found the alleged “mom” from this story when someone wrote that the strangest thing she’d done in an airport was “ask strangers to watch [her] stuff.”

One final piece of airport advice that we could not recommend—indeed, couldn’t even categorize—comes from a traveler who prefaces her response with the fact that she’s done “nothing strange” in an airport. She goes on to say, “I do go to the airport sometimes even when I am not flying anywhere, for shopping (especially at Christmas, our airport shops can be very quiet), eating, and people-watching (especially at London Heathrow when living nearby).” Really? Nothing strange?

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