No matter how much you plan ahead, there are many ways your business travels can get interrupted. One of those interruptions is the dreaded flight delay. Unfortunately, when a flight is delayed or travel is interrupted, there may not be many options other than waiting for the go-ahead from the airline.

Alternatively, sometimes the cheapest routes involve a long layover in a connecting city. Many business travelers avoid these options, but I personally enjoy them. I am less stressed about time and usually able to eat a decent meal outside of the airport before continuing on the next leg of my journey.

Even if you aren't thrilled about a long layover, these tips can help you pass the time more quickly. Maybe eventually, it can help you enjoy the time spent waiting.

However, before we dive in, I want to clarify a few terms that are important if you are booking award travel. 

A stopover is usually a layover that lasts over four hours. If you are traveling internationally, a stopover refers to a layover that is longer than 24 hours. This is important to know because you can essentially have a day in the city without losing your reward miles.  

1. Leave the airport and explore the nearest city.

Many airports have connections to public transportation like the subway or the tube nearby. If you have a long enough layover, exit the airport and explore the city. Ideally, you'll try to meet up with a client or find a networking opportunity that will help your business.

However, remember to factor in time as you will have to go back through immigration (if in another country), security, and possibly recheck your baggage, depending on your itinerary.

Note that you usually can't check baggage in unless it's four hours or less until your scheduled flight time. I recommend asking the airline about things you might need to do to ensure your luggage makes it to the final destination. Alternatively, travel with a carry-on only and avoid the hassle. 

I sometimes book a very long layover when I'm traveling on an international flight. It breaks up the monotony and it gives me a chance to have a decent meal outside of the airport before having to return. I recommend finding a way to meet with a client and maximize your time. 

If I have my baggage with me, I try to locate a place to store luggage. Sometimes airports or train stations have a luggage storage service. If worse comes to worst, I visit a museum or even the zoo that more often than not has a place to leave items (granted, I pack minimally and don't use large luggage cases). 

2. Book a room.

We all know that most airports have hotels and accommodations nearby, but did you know that some hotels offer travelers the ability to rent out a room for a few hours? You'll have to check with the individual hotels to see if they offer this service but it can be well worth the price if you can get one. You usually have to book for a minimum of four hours though and some places charge by the hour.

Look for the ones that are no-frills accommodations that can be used to relax, order food, get some sleep, answer a few emails, and shower. They are usually much cheaper and are often located very near or even inside the airport. Use this time to catch up on any work and recharge your electronics.

3. Explore the airport.

Sometimes the airport itself is worth exploring. Take a stroll around and find points of interest. I like to use the time to get some exercise in and find the airport lounges that have more to offer.

You may find that some lounges have better spaces to work out of and have networking opportunities that you wouldn't find anywhere else due to people coming and going. 

Thanks to social media and an influx in travel, many airports are vying to make the experience a pleasant one. Some airports now have spas, salons, gardens, and even sleep pods to relax in. Others have gyms to work out stress. Changi Airport in Singapore even has a movie theater! 

I know a few people who take the opportunity to blog about the airport and document interesting things on their social media. Perhaps you can take the opportunity to try some of the local cuisines at one of the more upscale restaurants or visit duty-free for some souvenirs and treats. Even if you just want to people watch, find something that is interesting to you and indulge in it for a bit before continuing on your business trip.

Sometimes these little things plus being away from an office environment can help you reset.  

Published on: May 30, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.