Last month, I talked about some advice on dealing with airport delays – how to try and avoid getting stuck if you can.  But sometimes, small (or long) delays are inevitable.  And we’ve all seen these ridiculous “arrive 3 hours prior to departure” notes from the airlines – as if you wanted to spend half of your holiday in a stale terminal.

To remind you of the plenty of ways to occupy yourself at even the dingiest of airports, here are my top 10 things I like to do when I’m waiting at the airport.

1) Phone Home

I’m sure there is someone in  your life you have been meaning to call and haven’t.  So take advantage of the spare time and give them a wee call.  “Hi I’m stuck at the airport and so I thought of you” isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement, but surely you can work it into the conversation without being awkward.  Try “I’ve been so busy and now that I had a minute to sit down, I couldn’t wait to call you.”

2) Clean Out your Inbox

If you’ve got your laptop or smart phone around, why not have a look through your email Inbox (or is that your Facebook inbox now?) and clear out some of that clutter.  There’s always a few things hiding that have either been dealt with or a quick “yes, ok” can get it out of the Inbox and out of your way.  It is also a way to feel great when you come back from holiday.

3) Read Something New

I’m sure you have brought reading material, but in the event you’ve forgotten, or just aren’t interested in reading what you brought right now, then why not look around the airport bookstore.  The top shelves are usually the “current hot item” type of book, which generally has no appeal to me.  But down on the lower shelves you can sometimes find interesting reads – things maybe you would never have thought about ordering on Amazon, but since you’re here….

4) Watch a Film

Playing DVDs is one perfectly good reason to bring your laptop on holiday – it is great in flight or for when you’re waiting at the airport.  Be sure to plug in while on the ground so you have plenty of juice in flight.  You can also use some of the free TV sites (BBC and Channel 4 have loads of archives online) if you are in an airport with free Wifi.

5) People Watch

I just love the weird mix of people at an airport.  You’ll see waves of people from certain nationalities as flights arrive and depart, and the in/out mix is really fascinating – sometimes bordering on comical.  Look around.

6) Buy a Newspaper

Remember those old fashioned black-and-white things they called “newspapers”?  They still have them in airports, even though most of us read them online now.  Pick one up – they’re cheap – and flip through it.  Get some ink on your fingers, fumble around with trying to hold the paper just right so you can read everything.  It’s one of those experiences that perhaps someday won’t be around anymore.

7) Go for a Walk

You’re flying, so shortly you’ll be stuck in a cramped space for at least an hour,if not more.  If you have time to spare and can leave the gate area, then go for a wander.  Stretch your legs.  Do a few laps around the terminal, even if it is tiny. It gets the blood flowing.

8 ) Work on Your Photography

Airports are a great place to play around with a camera.  There is lots of big scary equipment, people in uniform, people who look like they still haven’t gotten dressed yet, and tons of weird terminals and gate areas to poke around in.  Just be mindful of taking pictures around the security areas unless you want to be asked a few questions.

9) Eat

This is a tricky one, but given the prices some airlines charge for food in flight, it’s worth at least looking around. Airports are notorious for fattening, sodium-filled food, though there is a trend for better options in some airports.  If you’re going to be stuck awhile, I suggest getting a snack, because you never know when the next meal might be.  Just do yourself a favour and go for something moderately healthy – feeling bloated and tired doesn’t do anybody good.

10) Drink

I’m a huge fan of a glass of wine before a flight, because then I’ll sleep on the way there.  Yes, they say the flight altitude magnifies the effects of alcohol, so you only live once, so celebrate the fact that you’re on holiday and have a wee tipple – just don’t overdo it, ok?

What do you like to do while waiting at the airport?

Photo by sylvar, angeloangelo

Andy Hayes

Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Seattle, Washington. When not soaking up the Pacific Northwest lifestyle or enjoying life on the road, he is spending time hanging out on his own travel lifestyle magazine, Sharing Travel Experiences.

Posted : Tuesday, January 18th, 2011 at 12:59
Category : Top 10
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3 Responses to “Top Ten Things To Do (While Waiting) At the Airport”

  1. #7 is my absolute favorite. As dorky as I feel speed-walking up and down a terminal, it works – I run off some excess energy and am usually relaxed and ready to sit down by the time my flight starts to board.

  2. Shell says:

    Some great ideas there Andy.
    We always carry some reading matter in the hand luggage and now I have my cool Kindle, it will make my carry on baggage so much lighter for our next trip!
    # 3, 5 and 10 are on my list of things to do whilst waiting.

  3. Andy says:

    Thanks for jumping into the convo!

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