When you are budget travelling, one of your top priorities is buying flight tickets as cheap as possible. As football travellers we do not have the flexibility with dates since we need to be at the stadium on specific dates to watch the match. This leads us to buy the cheapest tickets available on specific dates (to compensate for the high price already paid for match tickets). And almost every time, cheap flight tickets are accompanied with long layovers which can be very daunting. However, you can make the long layovers a little less painful if you follow some tips. In this blog post, we will tell you the steps that we follow, to survive long layovers while football travelling. Let’s look at those.
1) Come prepared
If you have bought one of those cheap flight tickets to your football destination, it probably did not burn a hole in your pocket, but you may have settled for a long layover instead. The first advice would be to come prepared. We wont deny that we have been guilty of turning up unprepared and thus learned from our mistakes. Make sure you are loaded with your dose of entertainment, travel documents, chargers, food and drinks. We have elaborated all these in the subsequent points.
2) Bumping your flight
This is the first thing you should do at the layover airport. Meet airlines officials and try to find out whether seats are available in any earlier flights for your route. If yes, request them to board you on that flight. Most of the time, if there is availability, they will do it without any additional charges. If this works, you are lucky. If not, please keep reading for ways to make that layover period more tolerable.
3) Research on layover airport
We are not asking you to research for your thesis. A little effort here can save you a lot of pain later. You need to gain some useful knowledge about the turf. Things that you should ideally research on are whether the airport has a decent place to eat, is free water available, if there is a shower, whether there are recliner chairs to have a nap and so on. A very useful tool that you can use to do your research is https://www.sleepinginairports.net/. It is probably the largest database of airports and which will give you all the information you are looking for.
Waiting Area At Vnukovo International Airport
4) Catch up on your sleep
If you are in between long flights and changing time zones, you will probably end up sleep deprived. Long layovers are perfect opportunities to catch up on your sleep and be all charged up for the football matches you are going to attend. For a perfect airport sleep, you will need the following:
Sleeping Pad at Sheremetyevo Airport – 400 Rubles Per Hour
- Eye mask – It may be broad day light, but you will still need your sleep. Eye masks will be a life saver in these situations.
- Pullover/hoodie or any warm clothes – Airports can get cold at times, especially at night. You want to be all comfy while you curl up in one the recliner chairs at the airport.
- Neck Pillow – Ahh !!! this one is a must! You don’t want to wake up with a stiff neck. I am sure, you want to enjoy your football match to the fullest, right? But how can you do that when you can only turn your head and see only one side of the pitch?
We Preferred This – Free Of Cost. Arindam Sleeping During a Layover (Not Wearing His Neck Pillow Though)
5) Research on the destination
If you have planned a spontaneous trip, you probably did not have enough time to research on the destination you are travelling to. Make the most out of the layover time. We have done this so many times, even in train stations. Find out what places are worth visiting, which are the free ones etc. Also, check if there are better accommodations available if you have the option of free cancellation of your current accommodation. Sometimes better deals are available in the last minute. Many cities have a free guided tour around the city and they are often announced at the last minute. Find out if there are any events that weekend that excites you. https://www.timeout.com/ is a great resource.
We Found Out About Kolomenskoye Park While Researching On Moscow During A Layover (A Must Visit In Moscow According To Us)
6) Charge up your devices
While you are catching up on your sleep, it is the perfect opportunity to charge up all your electronic devices. We all have faced situations where our phone or camera died when we least wanted it to. But you will find that airport charging points are seldom available. It is best to carry a power strip along with you if you have multiple devices to charge. You will be surprised to see how many friends you make at the airport if you carry a power strip.
7) Interact with other football fans travelling
Talking about making friends, long layovers are excellent for meeting football fans from all around the world. You can share stories about football experience in your country. Find out how is it like to be a football fan in their country, which are the teams they support, their experience of watching football in the stadium. You will have some amazing stories to take back home.
We Met Upal (From Chandrabindu Band) During One of Our Layover. He Was A Very Kind Person And A Huge Football Fan
8) Watch a football match on a TV at open Bar
Whether you are heading to a tournament or returning from one, there will be matches that you will be missing while you are travelling. Find out if there is a pub or a bar that’s telecasting the game. Find a corner and enjoy the match. If the bar doesn’t have a table service, you will probably not even need to buy a beer. We have done this twice. Once at Pulkovo Airport, St Petersburg (Denmark Vs Croatia) and at Sheremetyevo Airport (France Vs Belgium).
We Watched The Match Between France and Belgium Here. Standing Outside The Open Bar at Sheremetyevo Airport
9) Stay Hydrated
This one is very important. Did you know that jet lags are partially due to dehydration? Due to the ambient temperature and low humidity in the plane you may not be drinking as much water that is required for you to stay hydrated. So, during the layovers, it is your chance to catch up on your daily recommended amount. Again, researching about the airport where your layover is, can be very helpful. We made the mistake only to find out that the Astana International Airport did not have any free drinking water points. And we had 15 hours layover there!!!Buying water from the airport is super expensive. Moreover, we did not have any local currency as well (Though you can swipe your international credit/debit cards). We did not buy any water, we just entered one of the bars every time we were thirsty and asked for a glass of water. The bartenders were always kind us. A word of caution! Please do not drink tap water from the toilet or elsewhere. We plan to carry a water bottle with built-in water purifier for our next trip. From our research, we found that Lifestraw is the most popular and reliable brand in this regard. We are yet to use one of them.
10) Do not go on a hunger strike
During our 15 the layover at Astana, we expected that the Airlines will provide us with food and water. We had seen this in a popular YouTuber’s (Varun Vagish-Mountain Trekker) channel. We were travelling on the same airlines as he did – Air Astana. Unfortunately, the Airlines did not provide anything (when we enquired at Air Astana office at Moscow, they said they wouldn’t provide food during the 15-hour layover at Astana). Yet again, airport restaurants and eating joints are expensive. But we were prepared for this one. You should be too. Here is how:
- Request the flight attendants for extra food- We asked them if they had spare food and told them that we have a very long layover. They were very kind and packed 4 meals for two of us.
- Carry dry food in your check-in luggage – We carried some bread, cheese slices, and cookies that helped us through the layover period. You can also carry some snacks like protein bars and nuts. They will not occupy lot of space, they are filling and very tasty as well.
Air Astana Hostesses Had Packed This Meal For Us Take Away With Us (Minus The Beer of course)
11) Entertain Yourself
To prevent yourself from being bored to death, carry along your supply of entertainment. You may or may not know whether you will have free or paid Wi-Fi available at the airport. If you are lucky enough YouTube and Netflix will be your saviour. If not, then what?
Load your iPad or laptop with your favourite movies or series. You can carry along some good book to read for the trip. If you are travelling light and you think that books would be too heavy, buy or carry a kindle. It’s an amazing device. If you like reading a lot, you will love it. Do not forget to update your playlist before the trip.
If you have none of the above, ‘People Watching’ is a great form of entertainment too. And airports are the best place for it. You will see people from all around the world under one roof. You will notice the different types of clothes, how they interact with each other, their body language, what food they carry, what luggage they have. Try to guess their destination, purpose of visit and then interact with them to know for sure. It’s a great game you can play during a long layover at a foreign airport. Believe us it will be fun. Just keep in mind not to stare at people in a creepy manner.
Perfect Place For People Watching
Take care of yourself while on the long wait. Here is a couple of things you can do:
- Hit the airport gym: Find out beforehand whether there is a gym at the airport. If so come prepared with your gym essentials. You will have a good workout and kill a lot of time. You can find all about airport gyms here http://www.airportgyms.com/ (information on USA and Canada airports at the moment)
- Take a shower – Or at least cleanse yourself. If the airport has a gym it will most likely have a shower (find this out before hitting the gym, you don’t want to be all stinky for your next flight). If there is no shower, carry cleansing tissue with you. They will come in handy. Wash your face, dry your armpit and other private parts. This will keep you fresh and going.
- Change your clothes – Carry a set of extra clothes and undergarments in your check-in luggage. Trust me just after 5 hours of waiting you will wish you had brought along an extra set of clothes.
13) Catch up on work and phone calls –
During the long waiting hours, be sure that there will be times when the waiting area is very quiet. It is the perfect time to catch up on some of your unfinished work. Send those work-related emails, finish the article you started to write before you went on leave, or prepare few slides for the presentation you are supposed to submit on returning to work.
Make those important phone calls that you have been holding off. Call your family back home, let them know if you are doing fine during the trip. Call an old friend with whom you haven’t spoken to in months, tell them about your experience of football travelling and inspire them as well. All this works if you have a working local number or at least internet (WhatsApp, Facebook and a lot of apps like Viber, Telegram etc. allows you to make an internet voice/video call these days). So, make sure you have checked that as well.
14) Treat Yourself
If your budget permits, you can always do the following.
- Upgrade to the VIP lounge – You will enjoy the luxurious environment.
- Have a sumptuous meal – Many airports have good restaurants check out the review of the restaurant an order a delicious meal.
- Shopping – Many airports like Dubai International Airport are shopper’s paradise. You could indulge yourself in buying some luxury items from the airport, that too without paying the customs tax, rates, etc.
- Window Shop- If you have a budget crunch like us, just go window shopping on the duty-free areas. That’s a good way to kill time. You will enjoy it.
Duty-Free Shops At Astana International Airport
A Restaurant at Khrabrovo Airport, Kaliningrad, Russia
15) Visit the city
I am putting this one at the bottom because we personally do not do this very often. So, before you decide to see around the city, make a plan. Don’t just wander about. You might think it is a long layover, but it may not be enough time for touring the whole city. Here are some of the things you should keep in mind:
- Carry all your necessary travel documents and photocopies of them.
- Carry your international debit card or some dollars. You will need cash to see around the city.
- Do not travel too far. Stay in the vicinity of the airport. Yes, we know airports are usually outside the city, but you don’t want to be travelling 100 Kms away from it.
- Things like getting a transit visa, immigration security check while re-entering the airport takes time. So, stick to the schedule. You will curse yourself if you miss the next flight.
Essentials checklist– good read, kindle, neck pillow, undergarments to change, cords and charging cables, power-strip, travel documents, laptops, iPad, food, water bottle, dollars/international debit cards, toiletries
Please do suggest more options which will help during a long layover in the Comments sections below. Also feel free to share your experience during a long layover.