How to Make the Most of Downtime While Traveling

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The notion of international travel makes us think of nonstop adventure and ceaseless exploration. While globetrotting is guaranteed to include an action-packed itinerary, the truth is there’s a lot of downtime involved. Between transportation, layovers, weather-related cancelations, and unforeseen circumstances, frequent travelers commonly find themselves with several hours to kill.

Rather than spend that free time scrolling through social media or binge-watching your favorite television shows, why not put it to better use? Here are seven things frequent travelers can do while they wait for trains to arrive, planes to depart, and storms to blow over:


Several hours in an airport terminal or hotel room provide an excellent opportunity to learn a new language, earn an advanced degree, or commit to some other educational pursuit. Whether it’s earning a Doctor of Business Administration online or becoming fluent in French, doing so makes excellent use of the downtime experienced by frequent travelers. Thanks to online programs offered by accredited universities and other educational resources found online, it’s never been easier to learn on the go, regardless of your geographical location.


Whether it’s books, newspapers, or periodicals, reading is an essential part of personal enrichment and mental wellbeing. Given the benefits of reading, consider doing so during travel-related downtime. Since books and other print materials are added weight to your luggage, consider buying an e-reader or tablet. That way, you don’t end up lugging around extra pounds of books and magazines.


Like reading, writing is beneficial to health and wellbeing. Even if you don’t consider yourself a good writer, that doesn’t mean you can’t dedicate an hour or so each day to blogging or writing in a journal. You may discover you’re a better writer than you thought while also making good use of your free time. As a frequent traveler, you may even find success as a travel blogger documenting your adventures across the globe.

Catch Up

We bad-mouthed social media earlier, but the truth is it’s a great tool for catching up with friends and family. So long as you’re spending most of your spare time on Facebook sending messages to loved ones, consider it a good use of travel-related downtime. Emails, text messages, and old-fashioned phone calls back home are also recommended. Your friends and family members will be happy to hear from you, and you’ll be overjoyed in return.

Freshen Up

Frequent travel often means long gaps between haircuts, manicures, and other forms of grooming. Those with a few hours to kill on the road should consider taking it as an opportunity to freshen up. Find a local salon and see if you can find a stylist who seems to understand what you want. Either you make yourself look glowing for the Gram or leave with an interesting story to tell. From an experience-driven point of view, it’s a win-win.


If you find yourself with extra time to spare, consider resupplying on travel essentials like toiletries, batteries, maps, guides, and more. Doing so during downtime gives you the chance to shop smart rather than buy under pressure later on. You may even be able to find affordable options online and have them shipped to your next hotel or rental.

Plan Ahead

Travel-related downtime offers travelers a chance to sit down and regroup. Maybe your current itinerary needs an update, or you need to find cheap hotels in a city you’ll be visiting in a month? Now’s the time to get it done.

While frequent travel is sure to include unforgettable adventures and authentic experiences, it’s also going to include a lot of time waiting around in stations, terminals, and lobbies. Rather than spend that time doing mindless activities, consider putting it to good use. With so many productive ways to spend travel-related downtime, there’s no reason ever to be bored on the road.

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