Woohoo! So you finally got off your arse and decided to take a trip. See that wasn’t so hard was it? I’m proud of you. From my last post (if you missed it check it here) you’re well aware that planning a trip is quite a bit of work, especially if you want to minimize spending and maximize adventuring. Now, if you are a penny pincher, like me (NO SHAME IN MY GAME), you definitely want to spend the least amount of money on flights and accommodations so that I have more for exploring and LE Turnup. Accommodations are pretty straight forward; hotel/hostel/Airbnb prices are usual set and don’t fluctuate as drastically as flights do. Once you have your flight and a place to stay you’re pretty much set to start the fun part…planning your activities. Unless you have a non-stop flight from point A to point B, activity planning can start as early as your layover. In a perfect world, I would only book non-stop flights simply because they’re pretty much hassle-free. But since I don’t live in an imaginary utopia where Idris Elba and Justin Timberlake are feeding me grapes and palm wine on my own private island, my flights generally come with a layover lasting anywhere from 30 minutes to 18 hours.
There are many reasons why you might end up with a one, two, or even three leg flight. Maybe you’re flying somewhere that’s too far away for a non-stop flight? Or maybe the non-stop flights are significantly more expensive? Whatever the reason, layovers are not always annoying. It gives you the opportunity to see another country for the price of one! While there is no guarantee where a layover will be or its duration, it’s important to determine whether your layover is long enough to exit the airport and embark on a mini excursion.
You guys have one of my sisters to thank for this post. She’s making her journey back to the mother land but before she lands at her final destination she has a 12 hour layover in “La Ville de L’amour,” a.k.a. The City of Love, Paris! In college, I study abroad in Paris and was more than willing to give her a couple of tips for maximizing her layover in Paris. FYI: These tips can be applied to any layover in any country. Tailor it to fit your needs.
TIPS FOR MAXIMIZING YOUR LAYOVER
- Determine if you have time: So you have a 4 hour layover abi? Probably not the smartest idea to leave the airport. You have to take into consideration how long it will take you to leave the airport (don’t forget about going through customs), how far the airport is from the city center, and getting back to catch your next flight. My advice, you may not want to leave the airport with under 5 hours of layover time, but ultimately that decision is up to you.
- Bagggg Laddyyy: This is where forward thinking is important. Before your trip, decide whether or not you have enough time to explore during your layover. If so, you may want to check as many bags as possible so that you don’t have to lug around a shit ton of stuff during your layover. Lugging suitcases and bags around a city, especially while using public transportation, is not my idea fun (Ask Erykah Badu and she’ll say the same). So before you exit the airport, store your luggage. Most airports have a storage kiosk or desk where you pay to store. Layover in Charles de Gaulle (CDG) Airport in Paris? Store your luggage with Baggages Du Monde. Six euro per bag buys you 6 hours of secured luggage storage. They have locations in both terminal 1 and 2A.
- Getting Around: Learn the metro system. Most layovers are out of major cities, meaning they probably have a highly-functioning metro system. Ubers/taxis can be expensive, so learn the metro system before hand and get going. CDG is about 15 miles from the center of Paris. Hop on the RER B and in 40 mins you will find yourself shaking hands with the crepe man in the heart of Paris. The Parisian metro system is one of the easiest to navigate (in my opinion) and because of all of the beautiful architecture and sights, you will definitely want to do some walking; its great exercise and you’ll see some gorgeous sights!
- Timing is everything: A 12 hour layover DOES NOT mean 11 hours frolicking around outside of the airport. You have to factor in time for getting through customs/TSA, leaving the airport, travel time between sights, etc. Be realistic. Give yourself a good 3-4 hours of travel time to and from the airport. For example. 8 hour layover….4-5 hours in the city. 12 hour layover…8-9 hours in the city. Timing is key.
- Have a Plan: Prior to your departure make a simple itinerary of place you would like to see. Two key words for you…PLAN and SIMPLE. Bear in mind that this is not your final destination, so don’t go sight-seeing crazy and miss your connecting flight all in the name of a “long layover.” You can’t see and do it all, so biko ehh (please) don’t kill yourself or miss your flight trying. Keep it simple. You’ll be able to accomplish everything you sought out to do and maybe more.
- Be flexible: No matter how much planning you do beforehand always keep in mind that SHIT HAPPENS. You may need to adjust your plans so you don’t miss your fight or you may not get to everything you wanted to do because of weather, excessive amounts of tourist, money, or x, y, or z reasons. Whatever the case, being flexible with your plans can turn an unexpected situation into a blast!
That’s all I have for you guys this time. The next you find yourself on an extended layover in Paris’ Charles de Gaulle or anywhere in the world, get out of the airport and enjoy a small piece of the city, it’ll be well worth it. Leave a comment down below if you’ve ever taken a layover day trip!