Travel Tips: Surviving the airport layover!

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By far, the worst thing about any long-haul surf trip is the dreaded layover period between two flights. Anything up to three hours or even four hours is fine, but beyond that, we can start to lose a grip on many things including our sleep, money and sanity.

The thousand-yard-stare of the wave-starved, airport-imprisoned surfer

Crush boredom

With a little prep, there’s no reason to be bored in today’s world. Got a smartphone or laptop with you? Consume media: pre-load it with videos, e-books, new music and games. Create media: write up your travels, edit some photos or video; you’ve no distractions so get to work on that project you never started. Obviously you’ve bought a power supply and travel adapter, look out for sockets where cleaning staff plug their machines into.

If’ you’re travelling very light or just not a fan of gadgets, a decent paper-back book is the way to go. Make it an adventure or travel one, it’s more likely to hold your interest now that you’re in full travel mode. No book? Skulk around the newsagents looking at surf mags (or any other specialist publications that catch your eye).

Free wifi in the airport hotel lounge, Facebook binge on!

Create a cocoon

It can be really hard to ‘get away’ from people in airports, they’re all around us after all, and getting comfortable (or grabbing some sleep) gets really tough when strangers keep invading your personal space. I make sure to bring a hat that pulls down, a pair of shades and some decent headphones to block out noise and to create a little barrier between me and the masses.

Dress in layers. Have clothes that will make you comfortable if it is unbearably hot or sub-arctically cold in your airport. A nice thick hoody doubles up as a pillow or blanket too for a bit of open seat kipping.

Stinkin’ it up

Some airports, and the people in them, stink a bit. Usually this is down to bad plumbing, hot weather and spicy food. Combat this with a few blasts of deodorant on yourself, and a dab of Vick’s inside each nostril. If it’s good enough for the morgue…

Bring a few napkins or tissues with you. Nothing worse than dashing to the loo with a case of Bali Belly and some attendant is standing there guarding the crapper asking for a tip in exchange for two sheets of paper.


If the airport’s a real crap-hole or the layover’s the equivalent of a small custodial sentence, I check into the airport lounge. This costs around £30, but once inside, all drinks (including alcohol) are free, a buffet is laid on, there is wifi, showers, huge comfy chairs and an air of serenity. Lounges say you’re only allowed in for four hours at a time, but keep a low profile, change seats now and again, hat on / hat off and you’ll sneak under the radar all day.

Yes it’s a $20 burger, but it’s also a day pass to free wifi, comfy seats and your own private zone.

Sleeping in my car

Here’s a very cunning tip. You’re at the airport, dog tired, can’t afford a hotel but need some space to lie down over night. Head to the car rentals and rent a cheap car for 24 hours. Recline the seats, lock the doors, leave it in the car park, and drift off with no annoying announcements for around £15 for the night.

All this leads to…

Getting as good a rest as you can for as fewer pennies as possible. You want to be rested so that after your next flight you can hit the surf without spending a day catching up on sleep. Eat well, stay hydrated and use the time wisely. Treat the airport as a mini-adventure in your surf trip rather than something to be totally dreaded.

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