7 Things You Need to Pack to Survive a Long Layover

Surviving a Long Layover
Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

With good reason, many travelers dread layovers. While connecting flights are often a lot cheaper, most people hate layovers because it’s a major time suck. It takes longer to get to your final destination and you have to figure out how to pass the time. Since I’m based in the North East cheap flights to New York often means having to deal with lots of long layovers.

The key to surviving a long layover is to be prepared ahead of time by packing all the things you’ll need to help you feel comfortable, fuel your body and fight boredom.

Remember layovers can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 23 hours so pack accordingly.

If you plan to spend a few hours at the airport, here are seven things you should pack to survive a long layover.

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What to Pack for a Long Layover

Portable charger/Power banks

Charge your electronics on the go with a portable power bank or charger.

Just in case you can’t find a charging station in your terminal, pack a power bank to help keep your electronics charged during your layover.

Rated one of the top portable chargers out right now check out the Anker Powercore 10000 or the Belkin Pocket Power Charger.

Playing cards

Playing cards are great for entertainment during a long layover.

If you’re solo play games like Solitaire or if you’re playing with travel companions play Go Fish or Slap Jack. Alternatively, if you want to raise the stakes – play all sorts of games online on your phone or tablet.  

Travel neck pillow

Comfort is very important when you’re waiting around at the airport for your next flight. Not only do neck pillows keep your neck supported but they also prevent strains and pain. Travel neck pillows make falling asleep a lot easier especially when you find yourself in awkward positions.

My favorite neck pillows have microbeads or memory foam and I can easily attach them to my luggage with a clip.

If you’re unsure of which neck pillows to get, Mapping Megan has a really insightful article that shares tips for finding the perfect neck pillow.

Journal and pen

Journaling helps me pass the time on a long layover or flight.

This year I started carrying a journal with me on every trip. I use it frequently to jot down notes and observations and it helps me capture my fleeting thoughts. I now even have a smaller “money” journal which helps me keep track of all of my expenses.

As a travel blogger and podcaster, my journal helps me keep track of new ideas and practical information that I may not remember later when I’m creating content.

Personally I prefer lined journals with a tight elastic band like this moleskin notebook.

Netflix shows and movies

Another way to pass the time at the airport while waiting for your next flight is to catch up on all your favorite TV shows on Netflix.

Within the Netflix app browse what’s “available for download” and access select TV shows and movies offline on your phone, tablet or computer.

Although you might not be able to download all the titles available on Netflix, you can always count on downloading Netflix Originals like Stranger Things, The Crown and Jessica Jones.

Remember that when you travel to different countries, Netflix may block certain titles. They do this to avoid legal issues.

With that being said, don’t forget to pack a set of durable headphones!

Alternatively if you’re into podcasts listen to my show The Thought Card on Apple Podcast, Spotify or Stitcher.

Reusable bottle of water

Airports are notorious for hiking up the prices of food and drinks. Similar to price hikes at concerts and stadiums, retailers surge the prices for food simply because they can. Because of the limited supply and high demand, airport vendors can charge even higher prices.

That’s why packing a reusable water bottle for a long layover is clutch because not only does it keep you hydrated but you also save a lot of money by not having to buy water at the airport.

After clearing customs head to the nearest water fountain and fill your water bottle as many times as you like.


In that same vein, pack snacks to avoid spending a lot of money on food at the airport.

Pack healthy snacks or snacks that cater to your dietary restrictions.

Some snack ideas include:

  • Chips
  • Pretzels
  • Fruit (avoid bananas, they get bruised easily)
  • Peeled hard-boiled eggs
  • Dried fruit
  • Cereal
  • Nuts  
  • Hummus and crackers, pita or carrots  
  • Lunchables
  • Sandwiches
  • Salads and wraps
  • Chocolate
  • Trail mix
  • Granola bars

How to pack your snacks?

Pack your travel snacks in a reusable snack bag that you can toss in the wash when you’re done. Also pack a full-size travel spork. A travel spork is an all in one spoon-fork-knife combo.

Pain reliever

Just in case you get a headache or migraine at the airport, don’t forget to pack headache and pain relievers like Tylenol or Ibuprofen.

Stress, skipped meals, and exhaustion can all cause headaches which you’re likely to experience waiting around at the airport.

Want more packing tips, grab my free packing list so you don’t forget to pack any of the essentials.

Bonus Item


Ever walk into a bathroom stall at an airport only to find that the lock is broken or the hook for your belongings is missing? 

Well, the odds of this happening during a long layover is very high but don’t worry I’ve discovered the perfect solution!

Lock-a-Loo is a keychain-sized accessory that secures bathroom stalls by keeping them locked while hanging your bag or coat so you don’t have to put them on the dirty floor. It’s simple, all you have to do is clip your Lock-a-Loo to your purse and wedge it in between the door and you’re all set.  

Use the promo code “THOUGHTCARD11/18” to get 10% off your next purchase.

Order your Lock-a-Loo here!

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4 replies
  1. Anne Sutherland-Smith says:

    Thanks for some great tips for a long layover – nobody wants them but they are an inevitable fact of life if you travel regularly! My only addition would be to pack some spare clothes so that you can have a shower and freshen up – most airports will have a shower option somewhere!


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