Whether you travel by boat, train, car, bus or plane delays and layovers happen. Depending on where in the world you’re located they should actually be expected. As a digital nomad and travel blogger, travel has genuinely become a consistent character in this chapter of the book that is my life’s journey. Living an on-the-go lifestyle I have managed to become one with logistical setbacks. I wasn’t always so capable, but we live and learn life. This meant changing my way of thinking too, so I began viewing layovers (expected or un) as an opportunity vs a frustration. Would you like to know how?
As a travel blogger, living a life that often feels as if I am a permanent tourist provides me with the opportunity to contribute a unique narration on the mundane of traveling. I am convinced, however, that a mindful approach to these activities can manifest the unseen beauty in even the most commonplace of movements. This subtle shift can paint a masterpiece of exploration as you travel and, by default, expose the wonder in the wandering itself.
Of course, there are the overtly obvious tips all of which can fall into the self-care category:
- Bring a book/magazine to read: Got a kindle? Download a few of each.
- Netflix and chill: Download your favorite series to help pass the time.
- Check/answer emails: Get caught up on communications using the free wifi.
- Surf the web: Most airports offer free wifi for your social media addictions/cravings.
Dependent upon one’s perception, the above activities can be categorized as important, yes, but here are some suggestions from a Bag Lady for a few mindful activities to implement when forced to by way of an unexpected delay or layover.
Talk to people
I typically go into autopilot when inside of an airport; I’m positive I am not the only one. The environment is so familiar to me I fall into a routine of behaviors and pleasantries. The environment itself is so formal and by default, my behaviors respond accordingly. Not too long ago I began to take a more mindful approach to my time in the airport, especially in line for security check and/or at the boarding gate waiting area, and decided to make a conscious effort to strike up a conversation or two with a stranger. You never know who you’re sitting next to or where the connection may lead. I once had an intense conversation with an elderly man traveling alone in Indonesia (on his way to meet his wife in Java) who was part of the White House elitist in his heyday and claimed to know the truth about who killed Kennedy. He could’ve been exaggerating or even lying, but it was an entertaining exchange of energy, which provided a richer experience.
Shop the duty-free
When you’re backpacking and on a budget, the duty-free isn’t the affordable option for stocking up on snacks or souvenirs. It is, however, an opportunity to spruce up your travel funk with fancy fragrance and hand lotion samples and often times the timeliest means of grabbing a pack of traditional liquor or sweets as a thank you to my next host(s). Although controlling my inner shopaholic can be tricky, my thriftiness typically always wins out these days. Personally, I find the duty free shops creatively stimulating. It’s a unique backdrop to people watch and offers the largest variety of candy, so for me, it’s a win-win.
It goes without saying that all airports are not created equal. There are those establishments that are more than a cut above the rest offering an abundance of activities like indoor bowling alleys, movie theatres, even cloud forests (some of these airports in Asia are no joke y’all). The majority of airports, however, will barely have enough seats at the boarding gate to accommodate the number of people actually boarding the plane. Instead of plopping yourself down in the first available seat (or in some cases the floor) take a leisurely stroll. Pay attention to the little things like the decor, the uniforms of the staff, which spices you can smell on the air from neighboring food kiosks/restaurants. Attempt to activate each one of your senses in a unique way one at a time.
Each of these suggestions should be taken as guidance and not law. There are undoubtedly dozens of more mindful approaches to this type of circumstance. It could be the “creative” in me, but I find this approach to be inspirational in addition to a sound means of experiencing time vs passing it. Each of these suggested activities can be done separately although one will typically give way to another. With enough time one can achieve all three (and then some) and board your flight with balanced energy, a smile, and childlike wonder in your heart.
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