travel layover essentials

I just returned home to Vancouver after spending 10 glorious days in the Southern California sunshine. To say I was excited to leave the mid-30-degree weather and return to what can only be described as the wettest and most miserable winter on record would be akin to me saying I would gladly allow myself to be suffocated by a boa constrictor. Not so much.

That said, I has a great trip, got to spend some quality time with family and friends, and actually came back with a bit of a tan, which is really making me stand out here on the west coast. More than that though, I learned just how important it is to adequately prep for those dreaded travel layovers. I’m no stranger to travelling and like to think I know what’s what, but this past trip, I made note of everything in my carry-on that helped me get through my layovers, and everything I was missing. So for your next trip, here’s a list of what you might want to take with you to make the most of your flight, and better yet, your layovers.


Kill a travel layover with an eReader

eReaders a travel layover essential Since I was only away for 10 days, I figured bringing one paperback book with me would be sufficient. I have no idea why I thought this would work since I am an avid reader and there is little else to do in Palm Springs besides golfing, shopping, and reading by the pool. Needless to say, I ploughed through the book I brought with me in less than two days, and then had to buy another. And then another. By the time I hit my layover in Calgary on my way back home, I was finished book number three and itching to start something new.

Had I brought my Kobo with me, this wouldn’t have been an issue! While my Kobo is an older model and I’m coveting the newer Kobo Aura ONE, eReaders can store hundreds of books, magazines, and other reading material, so no matter how long your vacation or how long your layover, you will have something to escape into and kill the time. And if you like to read poolside or beachside (or with a drink in hand) like I do, the Kobo Aura One is waterproof so you don’t need to worry about it getting splashed.


Noise cancelling headphones are a layover essential

noise cancelling headphones ideal for travel layoversNoise cancelling headphones are great for both flights and layovers alike. Whether you’re sitting next to a loud talker, in close proximity to a crying baby, or are so beyond tired that every noise you hear makes you want to lose your cool, headphones like these Bose QuietComfort 35 Over-Ear Noise Cancelling Wireless Headphones are your friend. They actively block out distracting noises going on around you so you can focus on the tunes you’re streaming from your audio device or the sound coming from the movie or TV show you’re streaming on your tablet or laptop.

You don’t even have actively engage in media to reap the benefits of noise cancelling headphones. Because they block out external noise you can simply put them on whenever you need to tune out, whether that means avoiding a conversation with a fellow traveler, or grabbing some much needed rest after a particularly long leg of your trip.


Occupy your travel layover with a gaming system  

nintendo switch for travel layoverI don’t know about you, but sometimes when I am forced to kill time, I just don’t want to read or listen to music, and instead want to tune out with a cheesy game on my smartphone. For me, word games are my go-to, but for other more ambitious gamers, a portable gaming system like the new Nintendo Switch is an absolute must have to make the most out of a layover.

What makes the Switch such an amazing travel companion is the fact that it delivers the power of a home console and the total freedom of a handheld gaming system so you don’t have to sacrifice your playing experience when you are on the go, no matter where you are. And let’s be honest … killing a few hours is really easy when you’re immersed in a game!


Make sure to keep your devices charged

keep devices charged on travel layoverDuring one of my recent layovers, I decided to watch a movie I had purchased on my tablet to kill the time. Unfortunately my battery was almost dead and I couldn’t find an outlet in the restaurant where I was grabbing a bite to give it some juice. Had I had a portable charger like this mophie Powerstation, I would have been able to watch my movie instead of doing work on my laptop (which I had to do anyway, but was procrastinating).

Not only are they compact and lightweight, but rechargeable batteries like the mophie provide quick charges to practically any USB device in the world. So as long as you keep it charged, you can use it to rapidly charge your smartphone, tablet, camera, portable gaming device, and anything else you’ve brought with you to make the most of your layover.


Other essentials to make the most of any layover

Outside of reading material and an assortment of electronic devices to keep you occupied, there are a few other essentials you should keep in your carryon to make the most of your next travel layover.

  1. neck pillow for travel layoversAn inflatable neck pillow is ideal for those times when you just need to catch a few zees. Put on your noise cancelling headphones, turn on the tunes, and tune out without putting a kink in your neck. Just be sure to set an alarm so you don’t miss your boarding call.

  1. keep hydrated while travellingRegardless of the length of your flights or layovers, drinking an adequate amount of water is essential. However, if you’ve flown recently, you know that bottles of water purchased at the airport come at a pretty high cost. Add to that the fact that you can’t bring drinks through security, and a decent water bottle like this Full Circle Wherever 20 oz Glass Water Bottle is a great travel companion. You can simply fill it up from a water fountain and skip the cost that comes from purchasing pricey airport fare.

  1. clear travel bag for layover essentials Last but not least, you might want to freshen up during your layover, especially if the last leg of your trip was a lengthy one. So make sure you bring with you a few essentials, like cleansing wipes, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and for the ladies, some basic makeup and dry shampoo. Keep in mind though that all the liquids in your carry on will need to be 3.4 ounces (100 millilitres) or less and stored in a clear bag like this Austin House TSA-Approved Travel Bottle Kit.


Until recently I hadn’t given much thought to layovers. No matter where I was heading, my focus was on the destination and not necessarily on the journey involved in getting there. However, the more I travel the more I learn and I hope what I’ve learned about layovers helps you make the most out of your next one!


Main image courtesy of Ogio

Stacey McGregor is a marketing and communications professional based in Vancouver, BC. She has a passion for the written word, loves learning about new technology and gadgets, and enjoys sharing what she learns through Best Buy's Plug In blog.