8 fun things to do at an airport

8 fun things to do at an airport

Travel hacks

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Whether you’re going to spend two or 12 hours at the airport, we’ve got some tips for fun ways to pass the time when you’re waiting for a flight

Journeys across the world are long, and with all the steps that you need to take before boarding an airplane, it can sometimes feel like you spend more time at the airport than you do in the air. Sitting for hours in an airport waiting for a flight doesn’t initially sound like much fun, but there are some things you can do to make the time go by faster. And no, not many of these ones involve sleeping, eating, or boozing…

Fine-tune your itinerary

Female backpackers at an airport looking at phone — Getty ImagesLook for exciting things to do at your destination — Getty Images

You’ll be looking forward to your vacation, and the best thing you can do with your excitement is to finalize your day-by-day plan. While you’re waiting for your flight, use the airport Wi-Fi to find out more about the things you want to see and do at your destination, any events that might be happening, and local transport. You’ll thank yourself later for being so prepared!

Pamper yourself

Woman in massage chair — Getty ImagesIf you’re trying not to spend too much cash at the airport, a massage chair is a good budget way to relax — Getty Images

Nowadays, there are several airports around the world with wellness facilities. That’s right — there are spas at lots of major hubs such as Amsterdam, Dubai, Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, New York JFK, Singapore Changi and Munich, so there’s no time like it to relieve some of that travel tension. Drop in for a massage, a dip in the pool, or a sweat-out in the sauna.

In addition, some of these bigger airports even have beauty salons, so if manicures, pedicures and blow-dries are more your thing, go ahead and treat yourself. What better way to arrive at your destination than by looking and feeling fabulous?

If you’re on a budget, you can find cheaper, coin-operated massage chairs in many more airports; and you can always go to town on the cosmetics testers in the airport drugstore…!

Stay at a Yotel

Yotel is a chain of ultra-modern, capsule hotel-inspired lodges, and you can stay in one of their little pods at Amsterdam, London Gatwick, Istanbul, Singapore Changi, and Paris Charles de Gaulle Airports. The airport branches — known as Yotelair — are specifically geared toward those on a long layover who want to get some rest in private, so a room can be booked for as short a stay as four hours, and then by the hour.

As an example, a standard Yotelair room at London Gatwick Airport is about seven square meters in area. In this compact space, they’ve managed to fit a bathroom with a shower, a single bed, a small desk, and a flat-screen TV. It’s certainly smart and innovative, and a fun experience to be had at an airport, even if you don’t intend to sleep.

Play games

Businessman staring at child's suitcase at airport baggage claim — Getty ImagesWhat do you think his story is? — Getty Images

Playing games is one of the most tried-and-tested ways to pass the time on a long journey, and it works especially well if you’re traveling with other people. Bring a pack of playing cards, release your inner child with hide and seek, or have a competition to see who can collect the most free samples from outlets around the terminal.

Alternatively, exercise your imagination. A fun game that revolves around people-watching is making up stories about the strangers around you. See that nervous-looking girl with the big backpack nursing a large frappuccino? She’s on her way to NASA for her astronaut training. And that guy in the three-piece suit? He’s just left his bride at the altar. You get the idea.

Get some exercise

Maja Living Room fitness area at Helsinki Airport — Finavia Media CentreThe Maja Living Room, a tranquil space for relaxation and light exercise at Helsinki Airport, opened just over three years ago — Finavia Media Centre

Wake yourself up on your long layover by getting those endorphins pumping. Gyms are available at some airports — Doha, Baltimore-Washington, Singapore Changi, Toronto Pearson, Dubai and San Francisco, to name a few. Or, bring your own yoga mat for a good stretching session. San Francisco and Helsinki Airports, for instance, have free-of-charge areas for practicing yoga and other forms of exercise.

With all that space in and around the terminal, you could even simply go for a jog. This is an especially great thing to do if you’re waiting for your flight in the evening or overnight, when there’ll be fewer crowds of people in your way, and you can count on almost no one using the airport showers.

Write and draw

Person sketching — Getty Images Creativity is the best antidote to boredom — Getty Images

Letting yourself be absorbed by the creative part of your brain is a surefire way to make time fly faster than a Boeing 747. What’s more, artistic expression is proven to reduce stress, improve mood, and lower blood pressure. Just what you need when you’re on a long journey!

Write a story, a blog post, or do some soul-searching with a journal entry — you might find that a weight you never knew was there is lifted off your shoulders. Or sketch! All you need is a pencil and paper, as well as an ounce of inspiration, and with your busy surroundings at the airport, that shouldn’t be too difficult to come by.

Soak up some culture

Kinetic Rain sculpture — Changi Airport Media CentreSingapore Changi Airport’s Kinetic Rain is the largest kinetic sculpture in the world — Changi Airport Media Centre

We’ve had the spas, we’ve had the fitness centers, and now, did you know that some airports even have museums and galleries?

Take William P. Hobby Airport. It’s the second largest airport in Houston, Texas, and home to the 1940 Air Terminal Museum. The museum showcases collections from the city’s civil aviation history, and the building itself (separate from the modern airport terminal) is among the few surviving examples of 1940s art deco airport architecture.

Athens Airport houses an array of ancient bronze and pottery, there are some enormous modern sculptures at Doha Airport, and San Francisco Airport has a museum spanning across the international departures hall, with an ambition to “enrich the public experience”. Wholesome stuff.

Among other vast and incredible sculptures on display at Singapore Changi Airport, you can even find the world’s largest kinetic one — Kinetic Rain — inside Terminal 1. It’s made up of over 1,000 bronze “liquid” droplets, which move to depict waves and shapes. You wouldn’t expect anything less extravagant from an airport that’s consistently ranked one of the world’s very best.

And who doesn’t love broadening their cultural horizons through their stomach? You’re going to get hungry if you’ve got a lot of time to kill at an airport, and it’s more fun to opt for a local dish, perhaps one that you haven’t tried before. Dive in — after all, going on vacation is all about new experiences…!

Meet new people

@kiwi.com Our best tips for meeting other people while solo traveling🎒👯‍♀️ #solotravel #singlesday #travelwithkiwicom ♬ A tropical house that feels Summer vibes – Roa

Don’t be shy — in any given airport terminal, you’ll find travelers just like you. (Or not — maybe you aren’t actually that far off with the elaborate stories you made up about them.) They might also be people-watching and wondering about your life, but you’ll never know until you make the first move.

As in more usual circumstances, a good place to approach someone for a chat is a bar. If you see someone sitting by themselves with a drink, take yours and ask if you can sit with them. Elsewhere, a good tactic is to find someone with a book and ask them what it’s about. Or to invest in a bag of candies for offering. You never know who you might meet, where they’re going, where they’ve been, and what they have to say; and this is the kind of curiosity that keeps us wanting to travel in the first place, right?

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