Expats Takeover: Planning An Extended Layover

Hello readers! I am right in the mix of that little move to London - you know, the whole 'expat blogger' thing? Well, I've decided to finally give truth to the title, and am on my way over.
While I am currently figuring out life across the world, I've got a few of my favorite bloggers stepping in for me to keep this page up and running - enjoy! - Caity


Hello there! My name is Taylor, and I'm the writer at Due East - a fellow travel blog about my adventures around the world and moving to London! Caity has been kind enough to ask me to guest-post for her in her absence, so I hope you'll stick around to read what I've got for you. Today's topic is: planning an extended layover.

First off: what exactly is an extended layover? Good question. 
I consider an extended layover as being any layover [intentionally planned] lasting over 8-hours, for the purpose of taking a brief excursion into the city for a little mid-flight adventure. 

Does this sound stressful to you?

I promise, it's really not. 
In fact, with a bit of planning, extended layovers can basically be free mini-trips wrapped into one big trip! 

I've personally taken 3 extended layover trips, and have another one planned for Iceland on my way to London in a few weeks. 
I've stopped in Munich for 24-hours, Paris for 24-hours, and San Salvador for 8-hours, and my upcoming Iceland layover will be for 3-days. 
So while I'm certainly not the queen of extended layovers, I've got a few under my belt, and learned some helpful tips as a result. 

So, why should you book an extended layover? Lots of reasons! 

-If you're able to get enough time, you can add a new city/country to your list. 

-Most air carriers offer them for free, and sometimes they even reduce the overall cost of your flight
-You get a chance to exit the airport and stretch your legs, which is especially nice after a long flight

Awesome, Taylor. I'm in. I want to plan an extended layover. But how do I do it?

1. Check different airlines.

Certain airlines will have regularly-scheduled extended layovers at a reduced rate. For example, Avianca Air always has an 8-hour layover in San Salvador, El Salvador available, so you don't have to do a lot of searching. Then there are some airlines, such as Iceland Air, who allow you to adjust your layover time to your desired amount, as a draw for you to visit their country. Do a bit of research to see what extended layovers are currently being offered via different carriers.

2. Make sure you have enough time.
Extended layovers require a minimum of 8-hours in order to safely get you back to the airport before your next flight. Assume that once you disembark your plane, you'll take up to 1-hour to go through customs and exit the airport. Then, returning, you should give yourself 2 to 2.5-hours before your flight for check-in and all that good stuff. With that said, you've left yourself approximately 5-hours of city exploration, not including transportation. Some people may feel comfortable leaving the airport with a shorter time allotment than that, but 8-hours is my personal minimum. 

3. Check customs requirements prior to leaving.
This step is very important. If you plan on leaving the airport, you're going to have to go through customs and purchase a tourist visa. While some countries have low visa fees, you may be paying upwards of $100 per person in others. If you are a budget traveler [like myself], it may not even be worth it to schedule an extended layover in a country with high visa fees. This happened to me in El Salvador; my boyfriend and I went to the visa website and saw that the basic tourist visa was $10 per person. However, we didn't check the required time for a tourist visa; when we tried to leave the airport, there was a sign saying it was an extra $40 per person for those staying in the country less than 24-hours. We didn't want to spend $50 per person just to explore for 5-hours, so we ended up staying in the airport for the layover. Big bummer, but our mistake. 

4. Do a lot of research and planning.
Because you've got such a short time to travel with such strict boundaries, you should have your layover trip on lockdown before you even leave the airport. Spend several hours planning out your trip to a T in the weeks prior to your flight. While I don't typically travel in such a strict fashion, having those time-sensitive plans prepared will make things much easier on you when you get there. Depending on the length of your layover, you should be considering transportation, sites to see, housing/hotels, and food. I made this mistake when I had my layover in Paris; I intended on just 'winging it' when I landed, and as a result missed out on a lot of the stuff I had hoped to do. You can read about my failed Paris layover, here

5. Pack accordingly.
Look, I get it. I'm one of those people who despises checking luggage, and is a huge proponent of cramming everything you're bringing into your carry-on bags. The problem with this, however, is that if you have an extended layover, you can't leave your bags behind. Realize that you should only pack in your carry-ons what you want to carry around the city with you. For my Iceland layover, I'll only be bringing my backpack and camera bag as my carry-ons, even though I'm only using my luggage to move things with me to England. You may have to pay to check luggage, or you may have to pack less, but it's all worth it for the extended layover, right?

With all this being said, extended layovers are really great opportunities, and if you get the chance, you should definitely try to plan one. What are your best extended layover tips?

Don't forget to find me on my blog, Due East, and to follow me on Bloglovin for more travel tips and adventure stories! 

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