Pro Travel: Getting the Most from A Stop Over
For those of you who have been around the world a few times, you're probably familiar with the long layover or extended stop over. Recently, both IcelandAir and Emirates started offering the ability to book a stopover in their main cities, Reykjavik and Dubai, respectively. These airlines allow you to plan a trip within a trip, staying up to a week in these cities before "continuing" to your "final" destination. However, if you have a long layover somewhere, or you are at a port-of-call on a cruise ship, how do you optimize your time?
Extended Layovers - The Easy Option
Certain airlines, like IcelandAir and Emirates, allow you to book an extended stay in one of the main cities the airline visits. This promotes tourism and encourages people to visit somewhere they may not have considered before. If you plan to visit Amsterdam and fly IcelandAir, you can book a “layover” in Reykjavik for up to seven days without a price increase. Pretty great? Two cities, one trip. This can dramatically save on airfare and allow you to see more places in one trip. Sure, you’ll need more time, but that’s the point of traveling after all.
Let’s say you’re not ready to book a full blown extension to your trip, but you have a connection in a major city, like New York, London, or Los Angeles. You can book a long connection at the connecting city. The airline then has any checked bags and you are free to explore the city. This is a great option for a twelve to sixteen hour layover in most any city. These day trips work particularly well in major European cities where all the sites are close together and the airports are within a short trip from the city center.
For Ports-of-Call on a cruise, it’s a bit easier to maximize your time. Cruises are designed to have anywhere from a few hours to nearly a full day at port. Many cruises have activities and excursions to select before arriving. This is usually the best option for the Caribbean ports. There’s a bit of added safety and security with cruise-approved excursions as it often eliminates any chance for scams or dangerous situations. However, for European cruises, many of the cities are extremely safe. For good measure, it’s best to find an official tourism office after leaving the ship to book your excursion. There are many scammers and price gougers waiting for wide-eyed tourists coming off a large cruise ship. Some of the best things to do on these port stopovers is to hop the nearest local bus or metro and explore the city. Or, if it’s a great walking city, like Venice, Ponta Delgada, or any of the many cities along Europe’s major rivers, just start exploring.
The Three Hour Rule
While I usually like to have a “pro tip” sentence, this really warrants a dedicated section. If you have fewer than three hours anywhere, it’s best to stay close to your ship or your airport gate. Sure, it’s less fun, but it’s much better than risking the possibility you get left behind. If you have to deal with traffic, security, and bags at an airport, just hang out at the airport for a few hours. It’s a great time to get in people-watching. If you’re at a port of call with only a few hours, take the time to relax on a much quieter ship, or head down to the water and check out a local café. Sure, you may pay more for a cuppa, but you’re close to the ship and can easily return if needed.
Travel gives you freedom. It’s like any hobby or activity; the more you do it, the better you get. When you start maximizing your time during a stopover or booking additional travel for no additional cost using, you’re traveling like a pro. For your next trip, start thinking about how you can spend your time during those layovers and stopovers. The choices are nearly endless. Happy travels!