When searching for a flight, many people opt for nonstop flights. It makes sense to a point. Most people want to arrive with as few hassles as possible. Keep in mind, with international travel, chances are high you will have a layover.
I have a love hate relationship with layovers. I don’t mind layovers unless it falls under certain conditions:
*At least 6 hours or more
I prefer to have no more than two layovers. However, the least expensive flights tend to have more layovers. On the way to Bali for my wedding, we had a total of three layovers, which was one too many for my liking. We stopped in Los Angeles, Seoul, and Singapore. Night layovers aren’t ideal because depending on the city, your only option is to sleep. If you arrive in a city which has a booming nightlife, then you still may be in luck to have something to do. If you’re fortunate to have lounge access, that also makes a big difference. Lounges are a great place to relax, complete with Wi-Fi, snacks, and drinks.
Layovers are a great way to explore a new city with minimal costs. Typically you only have to pay for transportation to the city center. Many cities have free walking tours which is a great way to spend a layover. Some airports, like Istanbul for example, provide free tours if you have a layover of a certain length of time. Having a stopover in a new city is a good way to explore for a few hours and determine if you would like to return when you have more time. Recently, I was in Malta on the way to Tbilisi, Georgia. It was cheaper to fly one way from Malta to Estonia, Estonia to Tbilisi. The flight to Tbilisi had a layover in Riga, Latvia. Booking a direct flight from Malta cost exponentially more. However, it made for a very long day as the flight to Tallinn was at 2 am and I didn’t arrive in Tbilisi until 3 am the next day. I didn’t mind as much because I had never been to Estonia or Latvia. On the return flight from Tbilisi, I had a layover in Kiev, which was also somewhere I’d never been before.
Taking advantage of a layover DOES require some research. For example, you want to make sure your arriving airport has luggage storage facilities. You also want to see how far the city center is from the airport to make sure it’s worthwhile to leave. Tallinn and Riga were great cities for short layovers because the city center is only about 20 minutes away. Kiev on the other hand, was a different story. My layover in Kiev was about 5 hours. The city center is close to an hour away from the airport. Due to the distance of the airport, I didn’t have as much time to explore as I would have liked.
A few of my favorite layover stops were Singapore, Paris, and Lima. How do you feel about layovers? Are you team nonstop or team layover?