Let’s be honest: layovers are the worst. Sure, once in a while you win the layover lottery and get 24 hours in a place which means you can leave the airport, explore, and sleep on a surface that isn’t a ratty airport chair. (Seriously, who designs those chairs?) But, if you’re like most of us, your layover is just long enough that it’s a drag and you won’t have time to leave the airport and come back. For this Travel Tip Tuesday segment, we clue you in on the best ways to cure layover blues and travel smarter. Download the following apps before your next flight.
1. Designated Airport(s) Apps
Many airports have their own unique apps. Dallas-Fort Worth is a great example of this. It gives you free Wifi, provides wayfinding so you can easily navigate to a connecting flight, shows you flight updates, lets you prepay for parking, sends you weather alerts, and it’s available in seven languages for those of us whose mother tongue is not English.
2. Google Translate
Typically, international airports have English on signs. (Fun fact: this could be due to the fact that pilots and air traffic controllers are all required to know English). However, regional airports may not have English signs or English-speaking customer service. The Google Translate app lets you quickly jot down messages which can be translated to written text. Some languages even have a feature available that lets you hold up your phone and it will scan and translate written text in real time. (Yes, that exists and it’s pretty sweet.) Sure, you could hire an interpreter to follow you around. Or you could download Google Translate instead.
3. Airline(s) app
This is an absolute must. If you haven’t already downloaded the apps for the airlines you’ll be using, do it! Not only can you check flight statuses, check-in on your phone, and even update your baggage info, but many airlines also offer free streaming services via their designated apps. You don’t want to wait until takeoff to realize that you won’t be catching up on “Westworld” because you didn’t download the app.
This free app is great if you don’t have much time between flights, have dietary restrictions, or you’re seeking a specific type of store. Maybe you want to find the closest restaurant to your gate. Maybe you’re a vegetarian and want to know what your options are. This app lets you easily see all dining and shopping options in the airport and where they’re located. For those travelers with a competitive streak, you can input your travel history and it will tally stats like the number of airports you’ve visited. You can then compare them to other travelers. Neat, huh?
5. Airport Sherpa
Having one of those days where you just can’t deal? Are you severely jet lagged and the thought of walking to food is unbearable? No worries. Airport Sherpa lets you get delivery right at your gate. (What a fascinating age we live in, yes?) And “delivery” is not simply food – they will also bring you retail goods and duty free items. Plus, the app allows you to input your flight time and will in turn alert you when you should place your order.
6. Currency Converter Plus
Download this app for free and stay current on the exchange rate. Don’t waste time doing the math yourself and definitely don’t trust locals. While most in the airport aren’t going to pull a fast one, there are people, especially street vendors, who are more than happy to take advantage of the fact that you don’t know the currency like they do. Also, some countries have a different rate for citizens and non-citizens. Having an easily accessible converter gives you a good estimate of what a meal or souvenir would cost in USD.
Available for iOS users, this app helps you beat jet lag by adjusting your sleeping schedule to your destination. It might be tempting to sleep as much as possible on the plane or sleep according to the time back home. But if you’re flying somewhere that’s 12 hours ahead, for example, this could drastically throw off your sleep cycle. The last thing you need is to arrive at 3 PM in Manila and mentally feel like it’s 3 AM your time.
8. Board games
Many board games have digitized versions nowadays. If you’re tired of reading and listening to music, board games are great way to pass the time. You can play by yourself or against other players within the board game app. Having something more interactive than an eBook makes the time pass faster between flights.
Audiobooks are great. Free audiobooks are even better. Librivox is a community-driven app where volunteers read and record audiobooks. It’s free to use, though there is a paid, premium version if you choose to upgrade. You’ll have access to 24,000 audiobooks. Ever wanted to read Ulysses? That 8 hour layover is your chance.
For $1.99, you can have all the wifi passwords for airports around the world. Seriously. One determined traveler, Anil Polat, began collecting wifi passwords and encourages readers to send in passwords as they find them. He regularly updates the website and the app to keep the information as current as possible. Take that, restricted access!