You were up all night worrying about it, and you were right to be. Your flight has been delayed. Whether you’re just beginning your journey or have a layover to catch, this all too common travel scenario is stressful. It also, let’s face it, can most of all be boring. Sure, you stocked up on books and movies for the flight, but you weren’t anticipating needing to kill hours in a crowded and cranky terminal. Like some of the most annoying parts of life, you can’t control a flight delay, but you can control what you do with it. Here are 11 ideas for how to productively use your delay rather than embarking on a lengthy Netflix binge.
1. Have a makeshift spa day
While some may want to head to those convenient shops found in airports that offer manicures and massages, they’re not a great idea during a delay. Not only are they overpriced, but a delay can suddenly speed up. One minute you’re enjoying a nice shoulder rub and the next you hear that your flight is about to take off over the loudspeaker. Instead of spending money on a treatment you may have to duck out of early, hit up the countless beauty shops in your terminal. Those shops are full of fancy samples. Assuming you don’t wear makeup while traveling, swing by one of those stores with a clean face and layer on the serums, mists, moisturizers, and oils. Yes, your face will be slicker than a bottle of avocado oil, but you’ll do yourself a major favor. Air travel is notoriously drying. Lock in as much moisture as you can pre-flight or replenish on a layover. Go for the fancy products you don’t normally get to use at home and take a deep breath. If your terminal doesn’t have a handy beauty shop, hit up one of the super cute Benefit Cosmetics vending machines or grab some extra moisturizer and chapstick from one of those little convenience stores. Whenever you finally get to your destination, at least you’ll be glowing.
2. Get organized
You have no idea what’s at the bottom of your purse, but you know it needs to go. Park yourself near a trash can and organize your purse, carry on bag, and wallet. We’d like to blame travel for the excess of crumpled receipts, squished protein bars, and astray mints, but the truth is that things got messy long before we hit the road. Sort through the trash and put all the miscellaneous items in the right compartments. You’ll feel so much more calm and collected once you do. Don’t forget to give your phone and laptop a little refresh too. Delete unwanted photos, clear the desktop, erase the downloads folder, and say goodbye to unused apps.
3. Make that tedious call
Need to set up a few doctors’ appointments? Have to call your sister back to debate your mom’s birthday present? Wondering if your bank will increase your credit limit? Want to speak with your landlord about the noisy neighbors? Whatever call you’ve been putting off, do it now. Why not see if a few phone calls can solve your problems? Go ahead, argue with your cable company about your bill. What is tedious at home will feel super productive at the airport.
4. Set yourself up for work success
No, you should not have to work while traveling. But chances are, if you spend a little time keeping up on your inbox, you’ll be way less stressed when you return. Answer any important emails and take note of ones you need to follow up on when you return to the office. While you have work on the brain, give your LinkedIn page a little refresh or send that networking email you keep forgetting about. Each of these tasks will probably take less than 15 minutes and could give your career — and maybe your spirits — a little boost.
5. Go for a walk
Flying means sitting for hours on end, which can lead to poor circulation and generally a feeling of bleh. Go for a serious walk around the terminal if you have time. Make it a brisk one, even if that means walking in circles. Fifteen minutes of movement before your flight will make you feel much better. And according to this study, it can help with jet lag.
6. Finalize your travel plans
Do you need to send your roommate your flight number so they know when to pick you up? Have you put off booking reservations for tours or restaurants for your vacation? Should you order groceries to arrive at home shortly after you do? Whatever it is you need to do to make your trip go smoothly, arrange it now. After all, you have the time.
7. Find some fruits and veggies
Nothing is better than food when you’re bored — actually, food and cocktails are pretty evenly matched. Even though curly fries and a good spritz may sound appealing, try to load up on water, fruit, and vegetables if you can. If you didn’t pack any healthy snacks with you, you’ll likely overpay for that apple found at the airport, but the junk food is expensive too — and will make you feel greasy and regretful later.
8. Check in with a loved one
If you’re traveling, chances are there is someone out there who is worrying about you or misses you. Give your nana a nice long call. You have nowhere to be, and she would love to hear from you. Send an email to your best friend with a recap of your trip, or video chat with your significant other. Who cares if other people are around? You’re in love and are basically the Romeo and Juliet of that airport. But just in case that’s too embarrassing, you might want to pack some headphones.
9. Set a goal in motion
We all have dreams, but let’s face it, the airport is not the place to make them happen. It is, however, the place to set a goal into motion. What is the first step to starting your goal? If it’s to find a new job, start to update your resume. If it’s to learn Italian, order some vocabulary flashcards off Amazon and download Duolingo. Do you want to learn how to perfect your serve? Check if your local community center offers tennis classes and sign up for one. Complete the first step of a goal, and you’ll have some momentum when you finally get home.
10. Unsubscribe from everything
I mean everything. Start with all of those obnoxious promotional emails you get. Normally you wouldn’t want to spend an hour hitting “unsubscribe” to store emails but now is your chance to get it done. Then, head to Instagram and Marie Kondo your feed like there is no tomorrow. Unfollow or mute any accounts that don’t give you joy. Oh, and don’t forget to cancel that meal delivery service or magazine subscription you don’t like that much or never get any use from. Saving some money will help you feel a little less resentful towards your delay.
11. Take a deep breath
Travel delays are stressful, there is no getting around that. But sadly, what happens next is way out of your control. At the end of the day, there is no point in getting flustered or angry, you’ll just make your delay even more miserable that way. Try to take a deep breath and accept that you’ll get to your destination when you get there. Everything will work out in the end, it always does.