If your layover is over eight hours, leave the airport

A personal guide on turning your layover into a mini trip

Courtesy+of+Juliana+Yacoubian+

Courtesy of Juliana Yacoubian

By Juliana Yacoubian, Collegian Staff

It was the last trip of my abroad adventure. I flew to Sevilla, Spain with two concert tickets and nowhere to stay, nor a way out.  When I got to Sevilla, the cheapest travel option back that I could find was a flight with a 10-hour layover in Marseille, France. I thought to myself, “Okay, Sounds like a day trip.”

I was in Sevilla for five days. For the second and third nights, I had found a hostel. On the fourth day, I went to go see Guns N’ Roses, asking the hostel if I could leave my backpack in a staff back room and come back for it after the concert. My options if they said no? I had none. After the concert, I befriended some strangers and then returned to the hostel, which was around a 45-minute walk at 2 a.m. I found my backpack, got changed and brushed my teeth and laid on the couch in the entrance room of the hostel for the next two hours before I walked towards a bus stop to head to the airport for my 6 a.m. flight. On that couch, at 3:22 a.m., I began to plan my trip around the south of France, where I would be in the next couple of hours.

Here are my tips for venturing out in a city during an excessively long layover. I first figured out where the airport I would be landing in was in proximity to tourist travel and sites to see. If I could walk or the bus was nearby, it’d be good enough. Then I made a list. Where do you want to go? Where can you go? I listed possible places then narrowed the list from there. Through searching on Google, TikTok and Instagram, this process was simple. There was a plethora of people online who enjoyed sharing the information. I wrote down a couple places that were in the city I would be in, and then I went to Google Maps.

Google Maps is a blessing in disguise because it allows you to plan a path with multiple stops and arrange them in the order you’d like. From there, you can coordinate the different locations you plan on going to with while taking into account their relative distance. I organized the sites I was visiting in order of walking distance, making it easy for me to go to one from another, all by walking. When I arrived at the Marseille airport, I had to take a bus to a train station that was near the area of the places I was going to, near the city center.

From the train station, I embarked on my journey, with a backpack on my shoulders weighing at least 35 pounds. My first stop was Palais Longchamp. I was climbing the stairs of that building around 10:30 a.m.  At 12:17, I was at Palais de Justice, and at 12:47 I was at Notre Dame de la Garde. By 1:07 p.m. I was exploring the hidden alleyways and street art of Cours Julien. I made it back to the Marseille-St-Charles train station at 3:03 p.m. I wanted to give myself plenty of time before my flight since I did not want to risk missing it, and I could not take another step due to the crippling blisters on my feet. Well worth it.

Here is a super important tip to consider before you start planning this layover hiatus: calculate how much time you have in your layover, how much time you have to get to the sites or city center and back to the airport, plus going through the airport check-in process. After you have that time estimated. Once you figure out how much time is left over, you can evaluate if you have enough time to explore the city. The risks and ability to be decisive in the middle of a layover are relative. Another tip, make sure you have a portable phone charger!

My journey around Marseille, France during my 10-hour layover was like doing a circle around the city. Though if you were to draw a line of my path, it might resemble the outline of Florida. Regardless, I made it back to the airport, ate some food, and arrived in Alicante before 9:30 p.m., just in time for one of the most gorgeous sunsets I have ever seen.

Juliana Yacoubian can be reached at [email protected]