As much as we love to plan for layovers, some stops are delayed unexpectedly. This is exactly what happened to us on a recent trip from Florida to California. Although our stopover in Denver (DEN) was supposed to be quick, it ended up turning into an overnight affair.
Flight interruptions are becoming more prevalent as travel picks back up so we wanted to share our experience and a few notes on how to be prepared for the unexpected.
Have an emergency fund
Set aside at least $200 for emergency transportation, accommodations or other necessities any time you travel. Although some airports are open 24/7 for you to wait out a delay, other airports close in the middle of the night. Additionally, airlines will not cover the cost of a hotel in many cases. Because we missed our connection due to bad weather, (which is outside the airlines control) no hotel credit was offered to us.
This is precisely why an emergency travel fund is important! There are typically multiple budget hotels within 15-20 minutes of any major airport. Be sure to factor in the cost of transportation to the hotel and then back to the airport in the morning when calculating how much to set aside.
During our delayed layover, we chose to splurge on our room and stay at the Westin Denver Airport . This hotel is right outside the security exit and allowed us more time to work comfortably from our hotel room prior to boarding our rescheduled flight. Although spending extra money is never fun, having cash set aside in our emergency fund helped us to have a comfortable place to stay and work while we waited for our new flight.
Keep essentials on hand
If you checked your bag prior to being delayed, theres a good chance your luggage is held up in a different place than you are. We always recommend packing lightly in a carry-on to avoid this, but in case you have to check a suitcase, be sure to keep essentials packed in your smaller personal bag. Some items we recommend keeping on hand are:
- Any necessary medication
- Wallet & valuables
- Extra pair of underwear
- Clean mask
- Hairbrush or comb
- Toothbrush / deodorant
- Fresh pair of socks
Build in buffer times
As travel picks back up and the pandemic continues to affect supply chains and labor, it is important to build buffer times into your travel plans. Planning for delays minimizes your risk of a domino effect and further travel complications.
If you are arriving at a destination in time for something specific, try to book an earlier flight or be prepared to push back plans accordingly. A flexible itinerary and positive attitude are essential. Remember, flight crews don’t want to be delayed any more than you do! Being kind in the face of inconvenience increases your chances that someone will work with you to make things better. Also, being kind is the right thing to do!
Most importantly, don’t forget to make the most of your travels! I mentioned earlier that we splurged on our hotel for work convenience, but it was also to enjoy a little extra time together.
The trip we were returning from was one of the first times our whole family was able to gather in a long time. We were so excited to safely celebrate with our loved ones we forgot to make time for ourselves. When we were delayed an extra night we saw an opportunity to decompress and we embraced it.
Taking a moment to enjoy a bit of quiet, give thanks for our safety and reflect on our wonderful trip was a gift. And that’s exactly why we love layovers!