51°30′30″ N 0°07′32″ W
The worst thing about any long-haul surf trip is the layover period between two flights. Anything up to three hours or even four hours is fine, you’re in holiday mode so have a couple of beers and mingle in the minging smoking room, but if you’ve gone for the cheapest flight on skyscanner you could have a double figure layover and lose a grip on many things including sleep, money and sanity.
How to Beat Airport Boredom
There’s no reason to be bored in today’s world. Consume media: pre-load your laptop with videos, books, music and games. Create media: write up your travels, edit some photos or video; you’ve got no distractions. Just make sure you’ve got a power supply and travel adapter and look out for sockets where cleaning staff plug their machines into. If’ you’re not a big gadget-fan then go old school and read a book. I read a million times more whilst away than at home, its relaxing. If you’re not a reader then skulk around the newsagents looking at surf mags.
Create a cocoon
Airports can send the most social of butterflies into anxiety-riddled agoraphobes after ten hours skulking around so I advise you wear a baggy hoody, a hat pulled low, a pair of shades and some decent headphones to block out noise and create a little barrier between you and the human traffic. You’re also more likely to be avoided looking like that.
A lot of non-Western airports stink, usually down to terrible plumbing, hot weather and spicy food. The toilets in said airports can be absolutely disgusting, due to relentless bouts of Bali Belly, Delhi Belly etc, so combat this by carrying some tea tree oil on you. This stuff is pleasently pungent and a drop in your nostril should suffice whilst you have to do your business. Also bring some tissue with you or nick some Heathrow Wetherspoons napkins, so you can avoid the ‘can I pay for some toilet roll please, I’m definitely having a crap’ vibe and can cruise straight past the toilet attendent.
I once dropped my brother to the airport a whole day early. I had stuff to do so couldn’t take him home and drop him off the next day so like a true brother, left him there. Around 10 hours later I felt a bit bad so thought I’d check on him. Turns out he was absolutely sweet as he had checked into the airport lounge, costing around £30, where all drinks (including alcohol) were free, a buffet was laid on, he had wifi, showers, huge comfy chairs and an air of serenity.
Rent a nap
This is a bit of a weird one that I haven’t actually done yet but am planning on doing next month, when I have to get from Gatwick to Heathrow, where I have 20+ hours to kill. Anyway, the plan is to hire a nice comfortable car at Gatwick to get me there, arrive into the car hire bit at Heathrow recline the seats and get some sleep. Sounds perfect in theory but I guess I’ll keep you updated on that one…
All this basically leads to getting as good a rest as you can for as fewer pennies as possible. You want to be rested so that after your next flight you can hit the surf without spending a day catching up on sleep. Eat well, stay hydrated and use the time wisely. Treat the airport as a mini-adventure in your surf trip rather than something to be totally dreaded.