I’m a big believer in using layovers as a budget friendly way to explore new places. They are essentially a way to travel somewhere for free because they are part of a flight you were already paying for anyway. I purposely choose flights that offer me long layovers in places I would be interested in.
However, spending less than 24 hours somewhere can be a stressful experience with a ticking clock looming over your day. So, here is how I spent a stress free layover in Paris.
Allow Enough Time
The biggest mistake you can make when you are planning to leave the airport during a layover is to not give yourself enough time. Research how long it takes to get from the airport to an area of interest and mentally add extra time in case traffic is thick or something unexpected happens.
I payed an extra $ 50 to have my 5 hour layover extended to 10, for me the small extra cost was worth a day in one of my favourite cities.
It was a 40 min drive from the airport to the historic center, so I mentally allowed myself an hour there and planned on being back to the airport 2 hours early as I know security takes a while at the Charles De Gaulle airport and I didn’t want to take any chances. So, travel time alone takes 3 hours out of my day already, giving me 7 hours to play with.
Store Your Luggage
Even if you travel light, lugging your day bag around all day can slow you down. See if the aipport has lockers or storage for the day.
The Charles De Gaulle airport does offers baggage storage in terminal 2 beside the railway station. It’s 10E for 12 hours, which was well worth it for me! It’s only open from 6 AM-9PM, so keep that in mind if you fly out later then that.
Find the Fastest Transportation
Public transportation might be the cheapest, but it might not always be the fastest. With such a limited window of time, I find that it’s better to spend a little more to get where you want to go faster and make the most of your time.
In Paris, we took a shuttle operated by Air France from the airport for 15E, which dropped us off at the Arc de Triomphe. It ran every 30 mins and took about 45, well worth the extra cost and still cheaper than a taxi.
You are on a limited time frame, so having too many expectations will set you up for disappointment if you’re not able to hit everything you wanted to see. Have a general idea and map out main attractions within a close distance to one another to maximize time.
I didn’t care what we did as long as we were in Paris, but going to the top of the Eiffle Tower was always on Lance’s bucket list, so we made that our priority. The rest of the day was spent slowly exploring the streets of Paris on our way to and from the Eiffle Tower. This enabled us to have a plan, so we weren’t wandering around aimlessly, but also free enough to not feel rushed.
Plan For Airport Security
In the excitement of the moment, many people forget that you will need to go through airport security again when you return. Paris in particular can have long wait times, so leave yourself plenty of time. I like to allow 2 hours, it might feel like wasted time, but I’d rather not have to worry about missing my flights and keep my day stress- free.
Finally, enjoy your day! You are in an exciting new place, take the time to soak it in without the stress that often comes with a whirlwind day.
Have any great tips for a stress- free layover? Feel free to share them in the comments!