Travel agents share their best lay­over tips

The Hamilton Spectator - - TRAVEL - LISA IANNUCCI

Lay­overs are tricky. Should you leave the air­port and find some­thing lo­cal to do? Will you be back in time? Should you just sit and wait? If so, what can you do to oc­cupy your time?

First, make sure your lay­over is l ong enough to ac­tu­ally do any­thing.

“If re­turn­ing from over­seas, you will have to go through cus­toms and im­mi­gra­tion be­fore you are able to board your con­nect­ing flight,” said James Ber­glie from Be All In­clu­sive. “A one-hour lay­over may sound great, but may very well not be enough time to make it through cus­toms and im­mi­gra­tion on your re­turn.”

If you find you do have some time, Ber­glie sug­gests en­joy­ing a meal in the city you are vis­it­ing. “Just be sure to make it back in time to clear se­cu­rity and board.”

The last time that Margie Le­nau had a long lay­over, she looked at the de­part­ing flights and went to the gate of a flight that was leav­ing ear­lier.

“I asked if they had any seats avail­able, and they did,” said Le­nau, a travel con­sul­tant at Won­der­land Fam­ily Va­ca­tion. “I had only carry-on bag­gage and was able to board that ear­lier flight and ar­rive five hours ear­lier to my des­ti­na­tion.”

Steve Gris­wold’s f avourite pur­chase for travel this year is his Pri­or­ity Pass Se­lect.

“This card gets you and your guests into air­port lounges all over the world,” said Gris­wold, owner of Pixie Hon­ey­moons. “I like to get to the air­port early to make sure I get though se­cu­rity in plenty of time and this lounge ac­cess gives me a com­fort­able lounge with Wi-Fi, snacks, and drinks while I wait for my flight to board.”

Gris­wold says trav­el­ers can get the Pri­or­ity Pass Se­lect mem­ber­ship for free as part of sev­eral credit card ben­e­fits, or pay to join for a year at www.pri­or­i­ty­­lect.

“I love the lounges in Or­lando, At­lanta and even Nas­sau had some fan­tas­tic truf­fle oil fries and trop­i­cal drinks while I waited for my flight,” he said.

Aside from shop­ping and eat­ing, Karen Quinn-Panzer, Dream Va­ca­tions fran­chise owner and va­ca­tion spe­cial­ist, said there are many air­ports that of­fer lo­cal tours if you have one or two ex­tra hours.

“Salt Lake City, Utah and Seoul, Korea of­fer one- and two-hour tours at no charge,” said Quinn-Panzer. “Just go to the in­for­ma­tion desk at the air­port. In Tokyo, Sin­ga­pore and Taipei, you will need at least five to seven hours for the free tours of­fered at these air­ports, but just think how much you can see on a five-plus-hour tour. What’s even bet­ter is that no visa is re­quired since you are con­sid­ered an ‘in tran­sit’ pas­sen­ger. Just bring all your travel pa­pers with you.”

Other air­ports are now of­fer­ing spas, movie the­atres and chil­dren’s play ar­eas.

“Nashville In­ter­na­tional Air­port — Music City — puts on about 100 free events and reg­u­lar live con­certs for trav­el­ers and music en­thu­si­asts alike ev­ery year,” said Quinn-Panzer. “San Fran­cisco Air­port has an art mu­seum that of­fers 20 gal­leries span­ning across four ter­mi­nals and Mu­nich fea­tures an air­port ‘Ok­to­ber­fest’ for trav­el­ers on their lay­over. Air­bau, a Bavar­ian-style tav­ern complete with its own brew­ery and tra­di­tional Ger­man beer-gar­den, serves homemade hops from the air­port’s Ter­mi­nal 1 for peo­ple lucky enough to have a lay­over in Mu­nich.”

If you don’t want to leave the air­port, con­sider just stick­ing around and en­joy­ing what’s there.

“I al­ways en­joy find­ing a great res­tau­rant and sit­ting, re­lax­ing, and peo­ple-watch­ing,” said Denise Lorentzen, owner and travel con­sul­tant at Dreams Travel Con­sult­ing. “I like to walk around to get some ex­er­cise and stretch my legs af­ter fly­ing. If the air­port has a large shop­ping area (like Or­lando, for ex­am­ple) I like to win­dow-shop and en­joy.

If you have chil­dren with you on the lay­over, be sure to have ac­tiv­i­ties to keep them busy. “Bring games, small toys, books, etc.,” said Lorentzen. “Or have the iPad charged so you can watch a show.”

If you know you’re hav­ing a lay­over, plan ahead so you know what’s avail­able when you land.

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