Lifestyle blogger Charlotte Zarzar aka Miiss Zarzar shares on her blog the perfect way to utilize a long layover. So if you are looking for tips on how to enjoy those seemingly boring long layovers for you travel lover, get in here and thank me later. Check it out;
Have you ever tried to book a flight and found a great deal, but the only drawback is a super long layover? I have. Several times, actually. Well there’s great news! Based on your airline and destination, those long layovers aren’t so bad after all.
So pre-Ebola when multiple airlines had more than enough options to fly to Monrovia, Liberia (West Africa), I got a great deal on British Airways from New York (JFK)- Monrovia (ROB), with a 36hr layover in London (LHR). My first instinct was, great, I haven’t been to London in 2yrs, plus I have family and friends I could possibly visit. When I saw that the price of the ticket was about 40% cheaper than normal, I bought it immediately!
TIP: whenever you have a layover for more than 12+hrs, some airlines will give you a free hotel as well as meal and transportation vouchers. If they don’t offer it, ask! What’s the worst that could happen if you ask? They’ll say no, and you’ll move on with your life. Simple!
I got to London on a beautiful sunny day. If you’ve ever been to London, you know sunny days are a plus, because the weather is as indecisive as a teenager. The line for British airways was extremely long, but worth the wait, as I was given 2 free nights at a nearby hotel as well as meal and transportation vouchers.
Once I got settled, I was in dire need of some wine. I got dressed and went to the hotel bar. While there, I met two guys from Scotland who also happened to be traveling to Monrovia on the same flight as me, also taking advantage of the long layover. No they didn’t have on kilts; not that day at least. We chatted for a few hours and I also learned they were interested in sight seeing the following morning.
TIP: A cool thing about traveling alone is you always meet new people- especially other travelers. From past experiences, I’ve learned that people are more comfortable talking to you when you’re alone or with one other person as opposed to being with a big group. (Sidetone: I’m not a fan of big group trips). Of course safety should always be one’s first priority. Based on good judgement and following your instincts, it’s great to meet like minded travelers on similar adventures as you.
The following morning I was ready to see what London had to offer. Good thing I had comfortable shoes, because I’m sure I walked a few miles. I took a train and started off at the Green Park station close to the Buckingham Palace. If you’re a nature lover, the park is beautiful and great for people watching. Who doesn’t enjoy people watching? It was a mixture of Washington square park and Central Park in New York City, but a bit more green, of course. From the park I walked over to Buckingham Palace to see the Queen, but she didn’t know I was coming, so I missed her. I’ll give her advance notice next time. After touring the palace grounds, I was starving so I found a cafe to grab a bite.
TIP: If you’re a foodie like myself, sorry to disappoint you- London does not have the best options for food, especially local street food. London is all about the beautiful architecture, fashion, shopping, some history and more shopping. The nightlife is also great. Your best option for transportation is the train. Cabs will cost you an arm and a leg. If they hear an American accent or any accent for that matter, be prepared to break your pockets.
I got tired of walking so I decided to get on the double decker bus and tour the rest of the town. I usually stay away from those bus tours, but seeing that I booked my ticket 5 days prior and I was only on a layover, I figured, why not? From the top level of the bus I was able to capture some awesome shots of the city. The bus dropped me off adjacent the House of Parliament, also known as Big Ben; which is across the street from the London Eye. The London Eye is like a Ferris wheel that offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city. It’ goes much higher than a normal Ferris wheel, but you don’t feel it moving. If you’re afraid of heights, you’ll do well on this one, trust me. Im a sucker for sunsets, so I made sure to go a few minutes before sunset. It was such a captivating, yet relaxing experience. At some point, I even forgot I was actually on a layover. I just enjoyed the moment.
TIP: Buy tickets on Groupon or at a local train station. Both places offer cheaper tickets (Groupon is much cheaper), but more importantly, you’ll get skip the line of purchasing a ticket on sight.
There’s a pub at the London Eye that offers pretty decent food. I didn’t go there for the food; instead, I was looking for wifi. When I asked the bartender whether they had wifi, he gave me a weird look and pointed to a sign that read “No wifi! Let’s talk to each other.” It was hilarious! As funny as it was, it was also a moment of realization. I realized that our society today is no longer in touch with in person commutation. Everything is a text or a tweet. Granted, the convenience is great and very necessary; however it’s caused us to disregard the need for real human interaction. It’s so bad that some people are unable to give you eye contact during a conversation, because they’re so used to communicating through a keyboard.
Overall, my layover in London was great. I got to visit more than one country without having to buy multiple airfares. Next time you’re planning a trip and come across a ticket that has a long layover somewhere, don’t skip it. Take a few minutes to analyze the pros and cons, and see what perks the airline might offer. Go the extra mile by asking for some extra perks and making the best of it. At the end of the day, traveling is all about utilizing your resources, and exploring as much as you can, for as little as possible.