Do you have a layover that's a little too long to spend entirely at the airport but still short enough that you worry about getting back on time? If you're a budget traveler -- or just traveling during peak times -- these types of lengthy layovers can be quite common. You can still have a short journey within your airport's city (or even take a quick nap at a hotel), but you'll need to consider your actions carefully if you want to avoid missing your flight.
1. Use the Airport Shuttle Service or Airport Taxi Service
If you're trying to see the sights during a layover, it's best to use either the airport shuttle service or airport taxi, rather than attempt to rent a vehicle or use public transportation. Renting a vehicle will take time that you just don't have, through both paperwork and navigation, and public transportation is often erratic. You may not know how erratic the public transportation is in a city until you find yourself on it.
2. Get a "Wake Up Call" At Your Hotel
Many flyers with long layovers decide to take a quick trip to a hotel rather than try to sleep on the plane. For some layovers, especially overnight layovers, there's more than enough time -- but you should always request a wake up call at the hotel to make absolutely sure that you get to your flight in time. Sometimes an alarm just isn't enough, especially when it's an alarm clock you're not used to.
3. Always Make Reservations for Restaurants
One of the best things to do on a short layover in an unfamiliar city is to grab lunch or dinner somewhere highly rated. It doesn't take long, many restaurants are already close to the airport, and you get an experience that you wouldn't otherwise have had. Still, you should always make a reservation ahead of time. Waiting can be unexpectedly long depending on the day and hour, especially in the better restaurants.
If you aren't familiar with the city and your layover is less than five hours long, you leave the airport at your own peril. During busy times, it can take two or three hours simply to get through security -- so you need to allow yourself at least that grace period to be able to get to your next gate. When in doubt, don't be afraid to ask the airport staff whether they think you can make it.