Travellers and backpackers might say they do, but in the end although airports represent the start of a new adventure, they’re really just a purgatory of needless waiting punctuated with scenes of people either totally losing it, or giving up entirely.
You don’t want to be that person that goes postal when they realised they’ve missed their flight by only a few minutes. You don’t want to be that person that has a public meltdown when their flight gets delayed due to general airline nonsense. And you definitely don’t want to be the person who causes a Hollywood-worth scene in the middle of the departure lounge when the loudspeaker announces that due to a situation out of their control, the flight is cancelled.
Instead you want to be the cool kid. The ‘I don’t mind if I wait’ guy. The ‘I’m happy to just sit back and relax’ personality. But that isn’t always something that comes easy to people, regardless of their travel expertise. I know that despite being a self-confessed travel addict, I really don’t like airports. Sure, me being at an airport pretty much always means I’m about to embark on another exciting part of my travelling life, but they’re just really horrible places. So, when I was recently sitting at Brisbane Airport with a seven hour wait ahead of me, I started to compile a little list in my head of just how I deal with being in airports.
There is a fine line to be walked in relation to how much time you want to spend in an airport, so don’t make it anymore than it needs to be unless you absolutely have to. Know how early you have to be at the airport for your flight, and then plan to get there more or less at that time. Definitely double, and even triple check this though! But once you’re sure, it makes sense to get to the airport exactly at that time, and not hours beforehand so you’re wait isn’t extended any more than it needs to be. Obviously, the last thing you want to do is miss your plane, but at the same time sitting around the airport is just a soul-destroying exercise.
I cannot stress this enough. Unless you’re planning on spending your time at the airport doing zombie stares into space to pass the time, you’ll want to bring enough to keep you entertained. This means charge the iPod, mp3 player or walkman (no judgement man), make sure you bring your headphones and bunker down for the long haul. But, I’d also suggest bringing more than one form of entertainment, like a book or a drawing pad as well as music. Unless what you actually do to keep occupied is zombie staring into space (or at people, which may very well be entertaining), then you’re probably fine.
Airport food is already ludicrously expensive without the added issue of being a backpacker looking to get the most out of every dollar. Unsurprisingly, I can’t see great value in paying massive dollars for food that is worth half as much, which I’d probably pass on if I was anywhere else. But if you’re at an airport, especially with the possibility of long waiting times, you’re probably going to need to eat. So if you don’t want your rumbling stomach echoing around the terminal, do yourself a favour and pick up some food before you get to the airport. Even if you don’t expect to be waiting that long, throw a few muesli bars or crackers into your bag just in case.
Sleep It Off
I’m a big fan of nap time in any environment, and have been known to be awfully protective of my lunchtime siesta. One of the positives of this for me when it comes to airports is that I can fall asleep just about anywhere. If you’re on the road, this is a good skill to have anyway, but it comes super handy if you’re delayed or laid over for hours in airport land. Just make sure you set an alarm so you don’t miss your flight!
Yeah you’re on your way to an adventure, but who says you can’t start that adventure right here at the airport? If you’ve got time to kill during a delay or a layover, there are few things that will pass the time better than a walk and and a people watch. One thing about airports is that they’re usually full of all manner of people. Plus, larger airports also tend to cover a lot of ground, meaning your can stroll around to your heart’s content. So familiarise yourself with your gate, and then let the adventure begin!
For most people, airports hardly represent an enviable place to be, especially for hours and hours between flights. But, if you go about it the right way, you can keep yourself occupied, and keep your head level in any airport situation, no matter what change of plans comes flying in your direction.