Travel Tips

Long Layover? Flight Delay? Here are Five Ways to Kill Time at the Airport

Travel often involves the courage to take your fate into your own hands, but occasionally, it asks you to relinquish control completely. Be it a cancelation, delayed flight or other travel hiccup, sometimes you find yourself stuck in an airport, just waiting around…

As we enter a notoriously busy time of year for air travel, you may find yourself hanging out in an airport with time to spare. So for Travel Tuesday this week, we wanted to bring you some fun and creative ways to help those hours tick by.

Here are five ideas for how to kill time at any airport!

Number One: Ground Yourself

If you’re going to be stuck, you might as well make yourself comfortable. Why not start by taking a few minutes for an intentional practice to improve your mood?

A woman looking relaxed with her eyes closed

Here is an exercise written by a yoga teacher meant to help you push the mental reset button:

  1. Find a seat. Plant your feet flat on the floor, and sit tall.
  2. Set a timer on your phone for five minutes. Change the sound of your alarm to avoid any pre-wired associations with the sound.
  3. Take a deep breath through your nose and release it out your mouth. With your exhale, allow your shoulders to relax and fall away from your ears.
  4. Bring your attention to the muscles in your face. See if you can notice where you are carrying tension and aim to release it. Unlock your jaw and widen the space between your eyebrows. Take a swallow to release the muscles of your throat.
  5. Bring the palms of your hands to your belly. Deepen your breathing until you can feel the belly expand and deflate with your breath.
  6. For the remainder of your five minutes, close your eyes. Continue your intentional breathing. Focus on your feet’s grounding connection to the floor, your hand’s warm sensation on your belly, and bringing softness into your face as you sit.
  7. When your alarm goes off, you can open your eyes, but take your time returning to your surroundings. Take a moment to roll your shoulders in circles, or gently stretch out your neck. Draw yourself up to your full height with a tall spine, and take one more big inhale through your nose.
  8. Exhale the air out of your mouth, accompanied by an audible sigh. Let the air leave your lungs along with any remaining tension (physical or mental).
  9. Before you reach for your phone or stand up to confront your next move, look around for something beautiful: a thriving plant, an artistic display, a young couple in love…
  10. Enjoy the lighter, calmer and less destructive headspace that results.

Number Two: Grab a Gift

Many airports come with abundant shopping opportunities, so getting stuck in one could be a great time to grab a gift for someone back home. We aren’t saying to pick up a silly souvenir from the grab-n-go stand by your gate, either. Try spending your extra airport time searching for the unique surprise that will make the day of someone special. Choose someone you love, and make it an all-out treasure hunt to pick out a beautifully intentional gift!

A woman holding out a gift

A novel for your niece, a bottle of perfume for your mother or a little something to say “thank you” to the neighbor who’s checking your mail back home.

No worries if your luggage is packed to the brim and you have no room for a gift. A handwritten letter is an incredible gift that won’t take up precious space. Don’t have any paper? You can even purchase a journal, tear out a couple of pages for your letter, and then give the journal away to a fellow traveler or airport employee!

Number Three: Airport Reframe

Here’s a travel hack that helps reframe the airport experience: airports are basically museums.

Looking past the bustling energy of mass-scale public transportation, you’ll find flecks of hometown pride on display. The architects, artists and engineers behind an airport’s design were well aware that they were crafting a first impression of their destination for travelers passing through. In any given airport, there are many travelers who will never step outside the airport doors, their layover serving as the only glimpse they’ll get into the airport’s location.

A woman alone on an airport escalator

Many airports even have curated exhibits to explore! While museums are regarded as cultured travel experiences, airports aren’t thought of this way, though they can offer similar spectacles and cultural insights that are well worth your time.

Walk around the airport and look at things through this new lens, you’ll be surprised what a difference it makes. Appreciate the airport experience that was intentionally created to introduce you to your current location. A reframe for finding beauty in unexpected places.

Number Four: People Watch

These days, we seem to pay more attention to the people on our phone screens than to those who actually surround us. Instead of turning to the endless scrolling available anywhere, try the long-lost art of people-watching! It often leads to a hilarious, exciting and inspiring experience.

To prove our point, here are the first words from the beloved holiday film, Love Actually. They are bound to make you feel warm and fuzzy about the opportunity to people-watch at an airport.

“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere.”

Looking to make more of a game out of your people-watching efforts? We’ve got you covered! Try playing Airport People-Watching Bingo with the card below:

Sherpani Airport People-Watching Bingo Card

Number Five: I’ll Try The…

Grabbing a bite to eat is a common way to kill time at the airport. If you’re in a large city, chances are good that its airport offers a plethora of options when it comes to dining. Why not make a game out of trying as many as you can?

Course out your airport meal by ordering a single menu item from each place. Take your time to select and enjoy your choice, then move on in search of something different to try next: an order of fries here, a glass of vino there, a unique appetizer from that fancy spot, a soft pretzel from a kiosk, and a something sweet for dessert!

A woman taking a bite of a doughnut

This quirky dining experience is sure to help the time tick by. Bonus points if you post on social media and let your friends follow along with your wacky airport meal!


The next time you’re stuck at an airport, know that a little optimism goes a long way. Lengthy layovers and flight snafus are just a part of travel. Sure, you’d rather spend that time sightseeing outside the airport walls, but that’s no reason to write off the experiences available to you within them.

A woman with her Sherpani suitcase, the Meridian in Chromatic, stepping onto an airport train
Discover more from the Sherpani Travel Blog:

Have to do more waiting in the sky? Read Travel Tip Tuesday: Will You Survive or Thrive on Your Next Long Flight?

Need to stock up on essentials? Try Product Spotlight: Five New Five Star Travel Accessories from Sherpani

Lost in translation? Check out our Language Translation Wallpapers!

By women for women, the Sherpani Travel Blog talks about all things travel. With a new post every week on Travel Tuesdayour blog is the go-to place for unique travel guidesgeneral travel tipspersonal travel stories from women in our community, and more!

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