by Katie Ferraro
This may be an unpopular statement, but we actually prefer to have a layover on long flights. Hear us out: Even if you are not a naturally active person, it’s hard to stay still for hours, making long flights uncomfortable. And though you may love flying, after being cooped up on a plane for hours, your legs may start cramping, you may feel dehydrated and crave a healthy meal. Which is why having the chance to spend some time on solid ground while traveling is often our favorite part of the journey.
That said, simply waiting at the gate for your next flight is not going to make your layover any more enjoyable (or make you feel any better when you arrive at your ultimate destination). So how do you make the most of your layover? Here, we share a few of our top tips for using stopover time to relax and recharge.
Bring your own water bottle. Not only is it better for the environment, but it will also save you from having to pay a premium for a bottle of water at the airport. Further, it’ll ensure that you’re even drinking water as opposed to forgoing the purchase due to sticker shock. Most airports now have water stations, making it convenient (and free!) for you to stay hydrated while traveling. And, the bonus of hydrating on the ground is that you don’t have to disturb the entire row 12 when you need to get up to use the restroom.
While it can be easy to be swayed into the greasy goodness of airport food, focus on what’s going to nourish your body most effectively. Flying requires close quarters, which means you’re vulnerable to a lot of germs. Do yourself a favor and get yourself a healthy meal. Even with all of the unhealthy (read: quick) choices there are at airports, we promise that you can find healthy options.
One of the easiest ways to do so is to look up options before you fly so you can make a good decision when you land. Admittedly, some terminals don’t have a lot of great options, especially for someone following a specific nutrition plan. If that’s the case, try to pack something to hold you over and keep you feeling nourished. This article from Outside Online outlines some more great practices.
Stretch It Out
Sitting for long periods of time can wreak havoc on your lower back and legs, causing you to feel the effects when you deplane. A layover is the perfect time to combat that! Once you get off the jet bridge, take a walk around the terminal to get the blood flowing (wearing compression socks on your travel days will also help with this). Then, get ready for some classic airport yoga.
The airport is an interesting place, to say the least, and generally people balk at the idea of doing yoga or stretching in public. If you’re self-conscious of being “that guy or girl,” don’t be. After all, the chances of you seeing your fellow travelers again is pretty slim. However, if public stretching does make you uncomfortable, check to see if your connecting airport has a yoga room. Otherwise, find your spot and stretch it out!
There is no right or wrong routine here, but most of the time the soreness and stiffness from flying originates from the glutes and hips. Here are some of the best stretches and yoga poses to get you feeling loose and limber during your layover:
- Forward Fold
- Elevated Pigeon
- Standing Side Bend
- Seated Figure Four
- Seated Spinal Twist
- World’s Greatest Stretch
Go through these movements two to three times, holding each pose for about 30 seconds on each side. Not only will you feel better when you board your next flight, you’ll feel the positive effects long after you hit the ground.
Incorporating just a few of these tips next time you fly may just transform how you view having to stop on your journey across the country (or around the world). And maybe, just maybe, you’ll actually look forward to having a layover.
Katie Ferraro is a writer and group fitness trainer in Los Angeles. When she’s not writing or at the gym, you’ll find her somewhere in the wilderness camping, hiking or backpacking.