Friday, 25 December 2015

Christmas layover cheer

40+55 Star
Perchance you find yourself travelling over the holidays, with a layover on Christmas, we are sending along this little bit of cheer. Make the most of whatever you have, wherever you are.

Merry Christmas!

creative commons image, click for source info

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Layover bucketlist: Downton Abbey

Highclere Castle, aka Downton Abbey
Yes, you can visit Downton on a layover.

That's good news for fans of the acclaimed television series, many of who have "visit" Downton Abbey on their bucketlist. As real fans, they know they can't actually visit a place that doesn't exist (that's more than we can say about the tourists who flock to wrong village in search of Downton Abbey).

If you are an independent traveller, or just have lots of time, you can visit many sites on your own (see Best Stops on a Downton Abbey Tour: Put Yourself in the Picture at These Downton Locations).

If you have less time, such as being in London on a layover, there are several Downton Abbey tours you can take that will ease your access.
'Downton Abbey' Town and Country Tour from London
'Downton Abbey' and Highclere Castle Tour from London
'Downton Abbey' TV Locations and Blenheim Palace Tour from London

No time for a scheduled tour?

A few private tour options:
Private Tour: 'Downton Abbey' TV Locations Tour of London by Black Cab
Private Tour: 'Downton Abbey’ Film Locations Tour by Private Chauffeur

 ... and for the serious fan:
Private Tour: 'Downton Abbey' TV Locations Tour of London and the Cotswolds by Black Cab Including Highclere Castle

Related resources
American tourists flock to wrong village in search of Downton Abbey
Discover the real Downton Abbey at Highclere Castle and Bampton
Downton Abbey film locations
Best Stops on a Downton Abbey Tour: Put Yourself in the Picture at These Downton Locations
London attractions: Highclere Castle
London Layover Ideas and Things to Do in London

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

An Amsterdam layover - 3 stories

The pink granite Homonument in Amsterdam
creativecommons image ianloic on Flickr
How I Experienced the Best of Amsterdam in…8 Hours? - LandLopers
Matt's frank account of his short Amsterdam visit a few years ago is refreshing, including his take on the city's ill-named, but historically significant, Homomonument.
I’m not necessarily proud of the fact that I only spent a few hours in Amsterdam, but that was the plan from the beginning. But that limited amount of time allowed us to focus and to enjoy the city in a way more leisurely travelers don’t. So without further ado, here are my recommendations for experiencing a slice of life in Amsterdam when you have less than a day. [read Matt's story]

Amsterdam | NL - Oxie on the Go
Oxie (aka Oksana) shares details on everything from her Uber experience and Airbnb stay, to city pass and Van Gogh Museum visit. Helpful info.
Amsterdam has been on my bucket-list for quite some time now simply because of the rumors of its beauty! So when I found out that I had a 28 hour layover here on my way home, you can only imagine how thrilled I was! Even though I only made it into Amsterdam at 4 pm (16:00), the whole trip was literally a blessing! It’s always a bonus to... [read Oxie's story]

How NOT to soend your layover in Amsterdam - WanderTooth
Katie and Geoff lept at the chance to have a layover in Amsterdam, but in retrospect would have done it much differently. Good lessons for us all:
We stopped in Amsterdam on our recent trip to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania by timing our flights to have a 10-hour layover. On our way there. This was a bad call, and not something you should do. Here’s why. Having never been to the city, we jumped at the chance to spend a layover in Amsterdam, not really considering we’d be coming off a 9-hour trans-Contilantic (trans-contilantic = trans-continental + trans-Atlantic), compounded by a nine hour time difference. Sometimes we’re I’m stupid like that. The city is set-up for layovers, so theoretically a layover in Amsterdam shouldn’t be a problem. Our bags were checked through all the way through... [read Katie and Geoff's story]

Related resources
Layover Ideas and Stuff to Do in Amsterdam
Amsterdam Schiphol International Airport (AMS) transportation guide
The Netherlands: Schiphol Layover - TripAdvisor
Rijksmuseum Amsterdam Airport Schiphol - closed for renovation, reopens summer 2016

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

A London layover - 3 stories

I'm getting so good at selfies!
Get yourself a real selfie on Tower Bridge!
creativecommons image ironypoisoning on Flickr

3 hours in London: the Layover - Rick Loves It
Rick (aka Erica) has been to London before, so she knew what she was doing when she squeezed in a quick trip into the city centre. Here's what she managed to see and do:
Everyone loves a layover! Not always – but in a city like London it isn’t so bad! When I traveled from Barcelona to Orlando, we had a 6 hour layover in London. By the time we got through the slowest customs line of my life at LHR, that turned into about 3 hours. Here is how I got to see some of the main tourist attractions in the city of London, in a tiny window of time. 4:20 PM : We’re off! Hop on the Heathrow Express > Paddington Station... [read Erica's story]

Layover with the Queen - Married with Luggage
In this layover story, travelingbrunette shares her 12 hour London layover, including seeking out and finding the famous 'Platform 9 and 3/4' (with hints for you to find it too!).
I was real excited when I, once again, saw a 12hr layover in London, England, on my flight itinerary. There is absolutely nothing better than a relaxed stroll through chaotic London. For me personally, that is a perfectly scheduled itinerary... [read travelingbrunette's story]

My 24 hour London layover - Miss Wanderlust
World traveller Katie did some careful planning to maximize her sightseeing in London, and shares her results.
We navigated through the airport to the Underground desk, purchasing two unlimited travel cards for £18 that lasted until the next morning. We planned our 25 hours very carefully to take full advantage of our time, choosing a hotel on the Picadilly Line, which runs directly from Heathrow and connects with many of the main tourist sights. From the time we got off of the plane to the time we walked into our hotel, only an hour had passed. We gave ourselves a pat on the back for that one... [read Karlie's story]

Related resources
Layover ideas and things to do in London
London Pass Including Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
Independent Layover Tour to Windsor from London Gatwick or Heathrow Airport
Heathrow's slick new transport screens
London: closest airports to LHR Heathrow Airport

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Memorial sites near Paris Beauvais Airport

Newdoundland Memorial Beaumount-Hamel
 creativecommons image adriam_fl on Flickr
While we tend to criticize Paris Beauvais Airport for its location (it is a LONG way from Paris) and lack of services, Beauvais does have a huge upside:
It is situated relatively near 6 important war memorial sites

Destination Beauvais Paris, a service of Beauvais Tourism, provides excellent information on each of the memorial sites, how to reach them, opening hours and website links.

The "Armistice Clearing" and Armistice Museum
Just 1 hour from Paris Beauvais Airport, tucked in the Compiègne Forest, lies the "Armistice Clearing", where the 1918 and 1940 armistices were signed. In the Armistice Museum, you can see a replica of the famous railway carriage in which, at 5am on November 11, 1918 the fist armistice was signed.

The Internment and Deportation Memorial and Royallieu Camp site 
Another Compiègne memorial site, the Internment and Deportation Memorial, site tells the story of nearly 45,000 Jews, political prisoners, French Resistance fighters, communists, Russian and American civilians interned at Royallieu Camp between 1941 and 1944.

The Historial of the Great War Museum in Péronne 
Just 1.5 hours from Paris Beauvais Airport in Péronne, the Historial of the Great War Museum aims to share the day-to-day lives of French, English and German soldiers during the First World War. Of particular interest are everyday items left behind by the soldiers.

The Somme 1916 Museum in Albert 
Recognizing the central role northern Somme played during the First World War, the Somme 1916 Museum highlights the everyday lives of the many brave soldiers.

The "Chemin des Dames" memorial trail 
This World War I memorial trail overs 35 kilometres, and is just ,2 hours from Paris Beauvais Airport.

The Battle of the Somme, 1916 - the Memorial Route
The Memorial Route near Beauvais allows you to grasp the Battle of Somme's magnitude. Numerous sites, memorials and chapels pay tribute to the soldiers from no less than 25 nations, including:
  • The Thiepval Missing Soldiers Memorial and the Tower of Ulster - 16 pillars atop the hill at Thiepval list the names of soldiers whose bodies were never found during the battle. Nearby, Ulster Tower commemorates the bravery of Irish soldiers. 
  • The Newfoundland Memorial of Beaumont-Hamel - erected to honour the many Canadians who fought and died at Somme. The memorial includes a cariibou statue, and a panoramic view of the well-preserved battlefield, complete with trenches. 
  • The Lochnagar Crater at La Boisselle - created from the explosion of mines that launched the Battle of Somme and led to the death of many Allied infantry. A commemorative ceremony is held in the immense crater every July 1st. 
  • The Australian Memorials of Pozières and Villers-Bretonneux - commemorate the Australian soldiers who stopped German troops on April 25, 1918, which led to the November 11th Armistice. Anzac Day is commemorated at Villers-Bretonneux annually. 
  • The South African Memorial and Museum of Longueval - pay tribute to the bravery and loss of South African lives at Delville Woods (Devil's Wood). 
  •  For more information, be sure to visit the Destination Beauvais Paris - Memorial Tourism website.

Related resources
10 unique Paris tours
Rock Your Layover: Paris
Layover ideas for the world's worst airports (2015)
Paris Beauvais-Tille Airport (BVA) transportation guide
Beauvais-Paris - more than just a stopover, it's a destination

Sunday, 8 November 2015

A Reykjavik layover - 3 stories

La Laguna Azul ( Blue Lagoon ) en Islandia
The Blue Lagoon is the ultimate layover experience
creativecommons image azuaje on Flickr
Reykjavik, Iceland: the best place in the wold to have a layover  - Coffee & Insulin
Sarah had a 10 hour layover in Reykjavik, and spent most of it in the Blue Lagoon, and you'll want to too, when you read her account...
I headed down to Iceland Air’s arrival hall to see what I could do, and despite my time limit, found many options. There were several kiosks providing trips to the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa about 20 minutes away by bus, and frequent shuttles to the center of Reykjavik. Although a bit pricey (around 65 euros for the roundtrip bus ride + entrance fee) after seeing a few pictures of the cloudy blue water surrounded by moony landscapes, I decided the Blue Lagoon was worth the splurge... [read Sarah's story]

I may have fallen in love during my layover - Miss Adventure
Susanna found herself in Iceland, by accident, as a result of a good airfare, and made the most of her visit.
I booked an airplane flight on a budget airline called Iceland air. Which meant I had a nine hour layover in Iceland. When I first got off my plane I was tired and a bit nervous... Eventually though, I decided to just march right past my fears and take the opportunity to see a bit of Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. I’m so glad I did... [read Susanna's story]

Twelve hours in Reykjavik: the layover of a lifetime - Amanda Ruggeri
Amanda gives you a play-by-play of activities throughout her 12 hour day in Iceland's capital.
While booking flights from New York to Stockholm, it came down to two choices. An expensive, non-stop flight or a cheaper seat on Icelandair with an 18-hour layover in Reykjavik. I didn’t hesitate for a moment. Icelandair, the savvy, Reykjavik-based airline... [read Amanda's story]

Related resources
Reykjavik Ideas and Things to Do in Rejkjavik
Blue Lagoon Spa Transfer
Reykjavik Keflavik International Airport (KEF) transportation guide
Reykjavik Airport (RKV) transportation guide
Icelandair Stopover - how it works
Reykjavik layover luggage storage options

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Halloween Layover Ideas

Bran Castle TB1
How about Halloween in Dracula's Castle?
Not only can you visit Bran Castle, but you can actually party there on Halloween!
Aside of playing trick-or-treat at the airport, what could you do, if you were stuck on a layover on Halloween?

If you are travelling on Halloween, there are all manner of interesting activities you could participate in around the world.

Just for fun, here are a few tours and activities around the world.

Transylvania - the land of Dracula!
2-Day Halloween Party in Sighisoara Citadel from Bucharest
2-Day Halloween Tour with Halloween Party in Bran Castle from Bucharest
2-Day Halloween Transylvania Experience from Bucharest including a Costume Party at Dracula's Castle
3-Day Halloween Tour in Transylvania from Bucharest
3-Day Halloween Tour in Transylvania from Cluj-Napoca
7-Day Trip to Transylvania: Halloween Midnight Tales

Salem Witch City Day Trip From Boston
Salem Super Saver: Wax Museum and Witch Village
Boston Ghosts and Gravestones Tour

Chicago Halloween Haunted Cruise
Haunted Chicago Segway Tour

Columbus, Ohio
Columbus Short North Walking Tour

Boyne Valley, Hill of Tara and Kells Tour from Dublin

Haunted Halloween Tour of Edinburgh

Hong Kong
Haunted Hong Kong Tour: Wanchai District

Las Vegas
Las Vegas Halloween Party Crawl

Los Angeles
Haunted Tales of Downtown Los Angeles

New Orleans
Spooky Tales of the French Quarter Halloween Celebration Tour
Spirits of the French Quarter A Halloween Special Event Tour
New Orleans Garden District Ghost Tour
New Orleans Ghost Tour: Witchcraft and Voodoo
New Orleans Cemetery and Voodoo Walking Tour
New Orleans Vampire Tour
New Orleans Haunted History Ghost Tour
New Orleans Ghosts and Spirits Walking Tour

New York
Ghosts of New York Walking Tour

Philly Oktoberfest Halloween and Haunted Tavern Tour

Salou, Spain
PortAventura: The Great Night of Halloween

San Francisco
San Francisco Halloween Segway Tour: Time Travel Though North Beach, Chinatown and the Embarcadero
The Home of Halloween at The San Francisco Dungeon

San Antonio
Halloween Historic Cemetery Tour
San Antonio Haunted Legends Segway Tour

Savannah, Georgia
Ghosts and Gravestones of Savannah
Ghost Hauntings Tour of Savannah
Sorrel Weed House Ghost Hunter Walking Tour in Savannah
Savannah Small-Group Ghost Tour by Bus
Savannah Gribble House Ghost-Hunting Tour
Savannah Ghost Walking Tour
Legendary Haunted Pubs of Savannah
Savannah Haunted Trolley Tour and 2-day Hop-on Hop-off Pass

Sydney Harbour Halloween Party Cruise

Halloween Ghost and Mysteries Tour in Venice

We hope you've had fun reading and exploring, even if the farthest you get is your front door. Have fun and stay safe!

Happy Halloween!

Related resources
Halloween in Transylvania - one blogger's experience
Halloween In Transylvania: My Lucky Graveyard Escape - the Wandering Earl
The Pittsburgh Halloween Layover - a family's story
Flight attendant haunted layover hotel ghost stories (and a haunted plane!) - Heather Poole
Zombie tours

Monday, 19 October 2015

Layover Ideas for the World's Worst Airports (2015)

* * Click HERE for 2016 * *


Read below for 2015:

The results are in! Sleeping in Airports has announced the results of their 2015 Worst Airports in the World survey.

In case you get depressed upon realizing you have a flight to one of these dismal airports, here are some ideas to you survive your layover.

Tip: you may need a transit visa to leave some of the airports listed - do your research before departing!

1. Port Harcourt International Airport (PHC)

New to the list in 2015

PH Airport1
It looks nice from this vantage point, but...
creativecommons image sixoone on Flickr
Survey lowlights:
• "Most corrupt airport in the world"
• Unpleasant and unhelpful staff
• No seating, broken air conditioning, part of the terminal is a tent

Layover ideas:
• Read up on this area of Nigeria before you go
• Get out and stretch your legs if you can
• Travel with a suitcase or blanket you can sit on

Layover resources:
Port Harcourt Airport Sleeping Guide
Port Harcourt Airport transportation guide

2. Jeddah King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED)

No change, this airport was in the #2 spot on the 2014 World's Worst Airports list too

Jeddah Airport Arrival Section
Be ready to line up for hours, especially during the Haj
creativecommons image ikhlasulamal on Flickr
Survey lowlights:
• Distracted immigration officers (when they are around) and multi-hour long queues
• Chaotic, crowded, unclean
• Smoking in non-smoking areas

Layover ideas:
• Souq al-Alawi is located in al-Balad (the old town)
• Naseef House museum has great evening views from the top floor
• Atallah Happy Land Park has rides, skating, bowling, theatres, dining, shopping

Layover resources:
Jeddah Airport Sleeping Guide
Jeddah Airport transportation guide
How to Obtain a Saudi Arabian Transit Visa
• Jeddah, Saudi Arabia - I Am Bound Here

3. Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM)

No change, this airport was in the #3 spot on the 2014 World's Worst Airports list too

Nepal Mural of Buddha's Life at Kathmandu Airport Arrival Area
Check to see if you can see this Buddha mural
creativecommons image jaygalvin on Flickr
Survey lowlights:
• Disgusting washrooms (bring your own soap)
• No air-conditioning
• Said to resemble a bus terminal

Layover ideas:
• Check out the mural of Buddha's life in the Arrivals area
Cultural Walking Tour with Nepalese Cooking Lesson
Kathmandu Evening Tour by Rickshaw
• Do anything that will allow you to pee elsewhere!

Layover resources:
Kathmandu Airport Sleeping Guide
Kathmandu Airport transportation guide
Layover Ideas & Stuff to do in Kathmandu
A Night in Kathmandu - National Geographic
Kathmandu Layover

4. Tashkent International Airport (TAS)

Not much change, this airport was in the #5 spot on the 2014 World's Worst Airports list

Tashkent airport
Looks can be deceiving - the reviews aren't as nice as this bar!
creativecommons image lindako on Flickr
Survey lowlights:
• "One of Dante's circles of hell"
• Horrific queuing, at multiple stages
• No crowd control - "chaotic, verging on aggressive"

Layover ideas:
• Chorsu (Eski Juva) is the oldest bazaar in Central Asia
• Tellya Sheikh Mosque is home to the world's oldest Koran
• Tashkent TV Tower offers great views of the city
Tashkent things to do

Layover resources:
Tashkent Airport Sleeping Guide
Tashkent Airport transportation guide
• Tourist Visa to Uzbekistan

5. Caracas Simon Bolivar International Airport (CCS)

New to the list in 2015

Try not to let the crazy colours and patterns make you dizzy
creativecommons image 117032936@N08 on Flickr
Survey lowlights:
• "Chaotic, uncomfortable and dull"
• No seating - the dirty floor is your only option
• Dirty bathrooms

Layover ideas:
• Cough up the money for private lounge access
• Take advantage of the free WiFi
• Go on a city tour

Layover resources:
Caracas Airport Sleeping Guide
Caracas Airport transportation guide
Caracas layover ideas

6. Port au Prince International Airport (PAP)

New to the list in 2015

US Navy 100219-N-5961C-004 assengers from an American Airlines flight from Miami walk throught the terminal at Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
It's hard to fault Haiti for its airport, it's had other priorities
wikicommons image
Survey lowlights:
• Untrustworthy staff and aggressive porters
• Stifling heat and no seating
• Dirty bathrooms

Layover ideas:
• There's not a lot we can offer here
• Bring something to read and drink
• Keep your cool and admire Haiti's resilience

Layover resources:
Port au Prince Airport Sleeping Guide
Port au Prince Airport transportation guide

7. Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport (KBL)

New to the list in 2015

Kam Air at Kabul Airport in 2010
The old domestic terminal in Kabul
wikicommons image
Survey lowlights:
• Lack of cleanliness in the Domestic Terminal
• Lack of accountability on the part of staff
• Lack of facilities

Layover ideas:
• If you have the choice, spend your layover at the International Terminal
• Read a book
• Surf the net - there is supposedly free WiFi
• There's not much else to do... just stay safe

Layover resources:
Kabul Airport Sleeping Guide
Kabul Airport transportation guide
The elusive Kabul Taxi

8. Ho Chi Minh City International Airport (SGN)

New to the list in 2015

Check out the old tank outside on your layover
wikicommons image
Survey lowlights:
• Rampant corruption - expect passport delays if you don't go along with the bribes
• Dirty bathrooms
• Lack of food options

Layover ideas:
• Amuse yourself watching the bribes (while keeping your valuables hidden)
Live Like A Saigonese: Overnight Homestay Experience in Ho Chi Minh City
Take a city sightseeing tour

Layover resources:
Ho Chi Minh City Airport Sleeping Guide
Ho Chi Min City Airport transportation guide
Layover Ideas & Things to do in Ho Chi Minh City

9. Islamabad Benazir Bhutto International Airport (ISB)

An improved position, after sitting in the #1 spot on the 2014 World's Worst Airports list

Don't expect to go anywhere fast from Islamabad Airport
image source unknown
Survey lowlights:
• Crowding
• Pervasive corruption
• Still dirty, despite new lounge and bathrooms

Layover ideas:
• Lok Virsa Museum features 25+ large galleries
Golra Railway Museum has locomotives and rolling stock
• Daman-e-Koh offers hiking, food, music and great city views

Layover resources:
Islamabad Airport Sleeping Guide
Islamabad Airport transportation guide
• Arriving in Islamabad - a taxi tour story

10. Paris Beauvais-Tille International Airport (BVA)

A bit of a change, this airport was in the #6 spot on the 2014 World's Worst Airports list

Paris Beauvais Airport
Tedium is the order of the day at Beauvais
creativecommons image matteoc on Flickr
Survey lowlights:
• Absence of chairs and kindness
• Insufficient toilets, lack of sanitation
• Getting the password to the free WiFi!

Layover ideas:
• Visit Beauvais Cathedral to see the Gothic architecture
Beauvais things to do
• Head into Paris and take an Eiffel Tower, Louvre or Hop On, Hop Off Bus tour
• Take @AirportSleeper's advice and fly into CDG or ORY instead!

Layover resources:
Paris Beauvais Airport Sleeping Guide
Paris Beauvais Airport transportation guide
Layover Ideas & Stuff to do in Paris
Beauvais-Paris - more than just a stopover, it's a destination

For more, check out the juicy sublists of 2015 Worst Airports for Africa, Asia, Caribbean & Central America, Europe, Middle East, North America, South America and the South Pacific. There's also a list of the Worst Airports for Sleeping!

Related resources:

Thursday, 15 October 2015

How NOT to spend a layover at Changi

A bottle of Jim Beam... or the world's best layover airport?
creativecommons image norio-nakayama on Flickr
Did you catch this one?

An Australian was charged a tidy sum after climbing onto Changi Airport Sky Train tracks. The low point was the final layover chapter for "Jim Beamed" (not his real name*) after he managed to drink himself into a stupor at a nearby pub while passing time between flights (read the full story).

We find it ironic that the only thing "Jim" could find to do on his layover at Changi was to hail a cab for a ride to the nearest pub. Singapore Changi International Airport was perhaps won more awards than any other airport in the world, and offers so much to do that it is a traveller's dream.

If Mr. Beam ever visits Changi Airport again ~ if they let him ~ we offer these alternatives:

Koi Fish at Changi
Hang out with the koi
creativecommons image srikumar on Flickr
Changi Airport
Catch a game
creativecommons image rabunwarna on Flickr
150921-3_SATS Premier Lounge_1
Chill with your own cone of silence
creativecommons image tetsuji0105 on Flickr
Sleeping Chairs
Catch 40 winks
creativecommons image mikecogh on Flickr
Premium Lounge
Treat yourself to some zen time
creativecommons image wynnie on Flickr
  • Take the airport's free city layover tour (tour details)
  • Go swimming in the Terminal 1 rooftop pool (why taking a layover dip rocks)
  • Kinetic Rain, a moving sculpture billed as the world's largest kinetic sculpture 
  • Walk the nature trail to see the butterfly garden, cactus garden, fern garden, orchid garden, koi pond, sunflower and light garden, fragrant garden, bamboo garden (there are lots of soothing places to sit back and relax, but no Jim Beam!)
  • Find one of the free rest areas and snag one of the specially-designed snooze chairs! 

  • Spend a few hours in an Ambassador Transit Lounge (Terminals 1, 2 and 3) - you'll find a gym, hair salon, massage, nap rooms and showers 
  • Or pop into a Plaza Premier Lounge for a more basic gym and shower set-up
  • Catch a flick at the movie theatre (Terminal 2) 
  • Get some work done in one of the 24 hour business centres (Terminals 1, 2 and 3)
  • Track down one of the airport's Xbox systems 
  • See if there is any Live lounge music being performed (available at times)
  • Locate a SingTel or Starhub payphone to take advantage of unlimited free local calls 
  • Go shopping - it's endless, and there's even a Changi Rewards Card
  • Check out the Aviation gallery 
  • Chill in one of the Prayer rooms (all terminals) 
  • If Jim was up for an adventure, he could have sought out local food the staff canteen at level 3M of the carpark next to Terminal 2 
*We couldn't resist...

Related resources
Australian jailed for trespassing onto Changi Airport Sky Train tracks while drunk
Mastering the long layover - Singapore and Changi Airport
Roundtrip layover tours from airports
Take a dip on your layover
Singapore Changi International Airport (SIN) transportation guide

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

A Brussels layover - 3 stories

Menneken Pis
Get your picture taken with the famous Menneken Pis!
creativecommons image 98971491@N00 on Flickr
Do you have a layover in Brussels, Belguim on your horizon? Not sure what you can do with limited time? Here is sage advice from travellers who have done it:

Why you should stay in Brussels on your next layover! - Travestyle
Matin's tips for an overnight layover in Brussels includes suggestions for where to stay, and where not to, allowing you to learn from her mistake.
A 20 min train ride will take you to the heart of Brussels where you’ll be drowned in garish facades and exquisite architecture with plenty of Belgian delicacies to nibble on. I have to say my first impression of Brussels wasn’t so satisfying but as soon as I stepped foot in Place centrale I was head over heels!.. [read the story]
45 minutes in Brussels - Dripping with Passion
Charity may be a little more daring than most, squeezing in a quick waffle dash, with no room for error, but she does show what's posdible.
I figured I had enough time to get into the city to explore and eat a waffle and then back to the airport. I hurried as much as possible through customs and scurried to the train terminal and hopped on a train to Brussels central station. By the time I got to the center of the city, I had just 45 minutes before I had to turn around and go back again. It was a little crazy, but totally worth it... [read the story]
How to spend a layover in Brussels - Cultural Xplorer
Chanel offers practical tips for a short layover, including the city's secret spot for vista views and photo opps.
On my way from New York City to Amsterdam during my 2014 Euro-Trip, I had a short 10-hour layover in Brussels, Belgium. Despite having a short time frame to work with, I was able to get a lot of things accomplished and see everything on my list. The city is very easy to navigate and a lot the major sights are accessible by foot, which makes planing a trip to the city very convenient... [read the story]
Related resources
Brussels by Private Car Tour
Brussels Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus Tour
The Brussels Card - city museum/sightseeing pass
Brussels Layover Guide & Things to Do in Brussels
Brussels International Airport (BRU) transportation guide
Brussels Charleroi Airport (CRL) transportation guide

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Get Cooking on Your Layover: South America

Taking a #cooking class from one of the kewlest #chefs in #Brazil. Open air kitchens rock!
Taking an open air cooking class in Brazil
creativecommons image artjonak on Flickr
Are you a foodie? Love to travel? Why not arrive home from your next vacation inspired to cook up a storm with a few new techniques?

This is the third in our series to help you Get Cooking on Your Layover.

If you missed them, check out our earlier posts, packed with cooking classes around the globe (the first also has links to resources from Boots'nAll, Frommer's, Transitions Abroad, Travel+Leisure, Trip Advisor and more):
We are continuing the series with delicious cooking classes you can take during your travels in South America.

with our instructor, norma
A memorable cooking class in Buenos Aires
creativecommons image sanchow on Flickr
Buenos Aires: Cooking Class
Buenos Aires: Cooking Class with Malbec Wine
Buenos Aires: Interactive Dining Experience - Empanada Making, Steak, Wine, Alfajores and Mate
Mendoza: Home Cooking Class at a Chef's House
Related resources - Argentina
Buenos Aires Cookery Classes and Wine Courses
Learning to cook in Buenos Aires - The Travel Chica
Argentine Cooking Classes Blog

Rio de Janeiro: Small Group Cooking Class
Rio de Janeiro: Copacabana - Brazilian Food And Cocktails Cooking Class
São Paulo: Gourmet Cooking Workshop
São Salvador da Bahia: Cooking Experience with a Local
Related resources - Brazil
What about cooking yourself a typical dish from Rio de Janeiro? -

Santiago: Chilean Cooking Class in Santiago
Santiago: Cooking Class Plus Historic Downtown Santiago and Markets Tour
Santiago: Private Food Markets Tour with Cooking Demo and Homemade Lunch
Related resources - Chile
Chilean cooking class Valparaiso - Two Hungry Backpackers

Bogota: Gastronomy Tour Including Cooking Class

Quito Culinary Tour and Cooking Class

Antigua: Experience Guatemala - Small Group Cooking Class
Guatemala City: Small Group Cooking Class in Antigua from Guatemala City
Guatemala-City: Antigua Market, Cooking Class and Choco Museum from Guatemala City
Panajachel: Maya Cooking Class at Lake Atitlan Maya Kitchen from Panajachel

Related resources - Paraguay
Housewife Bootcamp (cooking class experience) - Peaces of Paraguay

Cusco: Exclusive Private Peruvian Market Tour and Cooking Class
Cusco: Local Peruvian Market Tour and Cooking Class
Cusco: Cooking Class and Pisco Sour Lesson
Lima: Cooking Class with a Local Family
Lima: Ceviche Cooking Class
Lima: Market Tour Cooking Class and Pisco Sour Lesson
Lima: Peruvian Cooking Class Including Local Market Tour
Lima: Cooking Class Including Fruit Tasting
Lima: Peruvian Cooking Class Including Market Visit, Pisco Sours Lesson and Fruit Tasting
Lima: Combo City Sightseeing Tour and Cooking Class
Lima: Peruvian Basics Pisco Tasting, Cocktail Lesson and Ceviche Lesson
Lima: Gastronomic Tour-Including Pisco Sour and Cooking Class

Related resources
Tasteful Travel: LATIN AMERICAN Cooking Classes (Part 2)
Get Cooking on Your Layover: Europe
Get Cooking on Your Layover: Asia
Layover City - our series of what to do on a layover in great cities
Go for a run? Go sightseeing? Why not do both?

Updated periodically with new links.
Have a resource to add? Please leave a comment.

All image in this post are licensed under creativecommons - click any photo for source information

Saturday, 8 August 2015

An Istanbul layover - 4 stories

Istanbul, Turkey
There are treasures to find around every corner in Istanbul
creativecommons image benmciver on Flickr

Istanbul in 10 Hours: Making the Most of a Flight Connection - Travel with Pedro
Pedro shares the ground he covered, mostly on foot, on his layover. Using public transit, he arrived back at the airport with plenty of time, and ready to sleep on his next flight.
Recently, on a trip from Tbilisi, in Georgia, to Kyrgyzstan, I had a 10-hour connection in Turkey’s largest city. So here I show you how I spent those ten hours, and hopefully that will give you good ideas of what to do during your Istanbul flight connection. My flight landed at 7:15am and by 9am, I was already in the main area of tourist interest. I got off the tram at Beyazit, which is near the famous Grand Bazaar... [read Pedro's story]

Touring Istanbul on my short overnight layover - UPGRD: Regional First
Brad arrived at his Istanbul hotel late and tired, but arose early to make the most out of his day, even forgoing an airline bus service for more time and a metro ride.
After a nice time in Belgium, and an easy flight back to Istanbul, while I had the business class cabin to myself, I would finally have some time to leave Atatürk Airport and see a few of the sites in Istanbul. Of course, a few hours exploring is not nearly enough time, but I was pretty happy with what I got to see in the short time I had... [read Brad's story]

How to See Istanbul In One Day - The Wok of Life
Sarah shares her story along with many practical tips, including how to get a visa to leave the airport, currency and footwear.
If you’re contemplating a one-day layover in Istanbul, or thinking about how to see (at least some of) Istanbul in one day, three things: 1. Yes, it’s possible. In fact, it’s awesome. 2. Don’t even think about wearing flip-flops, Tom’s, or anything less than an orthopedic shoe (I’m only partially kidding. My aching feet beseech you…bring good walking shoes!). 3. Read on for more tips... [read Sarah's story]

The Best Decision I Ever Made: A 4-Day Solo Layover in Istanbul - Olivia Balsinger
Olivia's spontaneous inquiry that led to life-changing pause in Istanbul is inspiring ~ plus she deals head-on with the question of "Is it safe?"
As I waited to check my bags at the “Alexander the Great” Airport in Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, the poetic and profound words of Wiz Khalifa echoed in my ears, "We searching for the thrill of it, thrill of it". In spite of the fact that I had nothing to lose, or maybe because of it, I asked the booking agent: “How much would it be to not go back to New York? To take a later flight and spend a few days in the layover city? To see Istanbul?” “1,600,” she replied. Darn. There goes that. “1,600 Macedonian dollars … $32.37 American dollars..." [read Olivia's story]

Related resources
5 Reasons to Plan a Layover at the Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul - Live, Do, Grow
Layover Lowdown: Istanbul Atatürk Airport - The Points Guy
Istanbul Layover Ideas and Things to Do in Istanbul
Istanbul Ataturk Airport (IST) transportation guide
Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW) transportation guide

Friday, 3 July 2015

Layover PaxEx: the FREE airport transit tour

What to Do With Your Next Long Airport Layover - Free Layover Tours
NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Killing time during a long airport layover is never easy, or fun. Between the uncomfortable airport chairs and less than appetizing food options, not to mention the noise, exhaustion and boredom - it's an experience ranking somewhere between root canals and filing taxes. Many travelers are unaware, however, that airports around the world offer free layover tours, excursions that whisk you out of the airport to popular tourist attractions, for which all transportation and logistics are conveniently handled by someone other than you. (In other words - a mini vacation and you will be back in time for your connecting flight.) [... continue reading on The Street]

We were honoured to be interviewed by Mia Taylor, the journalist who researched and wrote the above piece, published today on And are definitely thrilled to be quoted in The Street!

We are big fans of the free layover tour, so we've updated our blog post, Roundtrip Layover Tours from Airports, with more of the tours cited in this article, as well as private tours you can purchase.

What about you? Have you taken a free airport layover tour? Please share your experience below, or on Twitter using the hashtag #FreeLayoverTour.

Read the full story on The Street
Follow The Street on Twitter: @TheStreet
Follow Mia Taylor on Twitter: @Luxewritergirl

Related resources
Airport Dining Worthy of a Long Layover
Airline VIP Lounges that Wow
Roundtrip Layover Tours from Airports - UPDATED

Friday, 12 June 2015

About USO layover lounges

In many airports across the United States, and a few overseas, there is an exclusive lounge that few know about, and even fewer can access.

Operated by the non-profit United Service Organizations, USO lounges offer a welcoming and relaxed private space for traveling members of the military and their families. This collection of articles offers a peek behind the curtain as to the services offered and the role they play.

Airport Secret: The USO Lounge - Amy Bushatz
The first thing I learned about air travel as a military spouse was this: don’t fly through any airport that does not have a USO lounge. And this is why... [read the articlr]

Exclusive Airport Lounge Where Rank Is Secondary - Joe Sharkey
He simply went in, showed his worn World War II Army ID, and they welcomed him — the center is reserved for active duty and retired service members. The 3,000-square-foot center, in bustling Terminal 4, looks like a high-end airline lounge, with... [read the article]

Atlanta Airport unveils renovated USO facility (SLIDESHOW) - Phil W. Hudson
For many military service members, the USO facility is the first place they visit before heading home from deployments overseas. And sadly, for several of those returning to war zones, it is the last place on American soil they will ever be... [read the article]

The United Service Organizations (USO) is a nonprofit organization that provides programs, services and live entertainment to United States troops and their families. One of the ways the organization supports families is through USO Lounges in many major airports.

Related resources
USO Lounges - Sleeping in Airports
Military lounges are airport oases - Nicholas Kralev

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Take a dip on your layover

travel 001
Rooftop pool at the Hilton Dallas Airport (which airport)
Ever gone for a swim on a layover? It's one of the most relaxing, restorative and refreshing things you can do. While it's rare o find an airport with a pool (though they do eist), there are plenty of possibilities along almost any itinerary. Here are some spots to inspire;

Hyatt Place Pensacola Airport
Hyatt Place Pensacola Airport

Blue Lagoon (geothermal spa)
Blue Lagoon

Marriott Pool
Marriott at Tampa Airport

Casablanca Airport Hotel
Casablanca Airport Hotel

Saigon Park Hyatt
Saigon Park Hyatt (how close to airport?)

Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand
Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel, Bangkok
 - good blurb, but try to get pic w people?

Massage by the pool
Massage by the pool at the Best Western at the
Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel, 10 minute shuttle ride

The cream of the crop are airports with swimming pools listed among the airport amenities, and available to all guests who are willing to pay the admission fee. For example:

  • Singapore Changi International Airport swimming pool

Wesley in Fairmont Vancouver Airport
Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel

Almost as good are hotels located inside airports, that are designed with a swimming pool. The best of the best include:
  • Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel - non-guests can visit the health club facility (fitness, pool, showers) for $18. That's almost as good as staying there!

A close runner up would be pool boasting hotel connected to the airport, such as by a covered walkway or moving sidewalk - no shuttle required.

But don't scoff the shuttle.

hotels with good pools make me happy
The Leeds Marriott Hotel is 18 km (11 mi) from the
airport, but that's not far if you feel like Shelley,
"Hotels with good pools make me happy.
I especially love it when I have enough time
to swim in them after airport stress."
If you're travelling via a major airport, check the hotels in the surrounding area. You might find that quick shuttle ride worth the reward.

To find nearby hotels with pools located near airports, just use your favourite hotel booking site, and select the swimming pool search filter.

A quick search for "hotels near Toronto Pearson Airport with swimming pool" brought 15 results, within a 5 kilometre (3 miles) radius.

Add another filter for airport shuttle, and the list is further narrowed down to 13 hotels near YYZ with a pool and shuttle, and Bob's your uncle!

Changi Airport Outdoor Pool, Singapore
Changi pool, try to get people

the Kempinski at Munich Airport
Kempinski Munich Airport

The best pool in Sevilla!
Camping by Seville Airport

Ian Drowning
Novotel Hotel at Brisbane Airport - rooftop pool with see through walls

Related resources
Make the Most of Your Layover at the World's Best Airports