Want to Make the Most of your Layover? Get Out of the Airport!

Nothing says “tedious” like flying, and a 24 hour trip from Riga, through Brussels and Washington D.C., to my doorstep in Chicago was one I could only prepare myself so much for.

But between the sitting, waiting, and the unavoidable anxiety of logistics, I found myself with a little bit of time on my hands at Brussels airport.

So you know what I did?

I left.

I wish I could say it was pure inspiration that drove me outside, but in fact I had heard rumors of an old colleague of mine who had spent a four-hour layover jogging through Brussels in a speedy tourist trip. I just had to see if it was possible to do, and after surpassing the inevitable “what happens if I somehow miss my plane because I LEFT THE AIRPORT?!?!?” nervousness, I headed straight to the train station, conveniently located on the lowest floor of the airport (literally -1).

Come to find out, the airport is only a 20-minute (7 Euro) train ride from downtown, and the train station (Brussels Central) literally drops you off in front of restaurants, historic monuments and plazas. And lest we forget my personal favorite, more chocolate boutiques than you can sample in a lifetime.

My bags were packed and I was ready to go. Literally, I had all of my stuff checked anyway and a six hour layover ahead of me, so why not?

My bags were packed and I was ready to go. Literally, I had all of my stuff checked anyway and a six hour layover ahead of me, so why not? Here’s my ticket to ride.

So picture this: three long and grueling plane rides, and in between them:

A Saturday afternoon stroll in a busy street of old buildings, churches, and outdoor cafes.



The sudden happening upon the Grand Place/Grote Markt for some impromptu photographing and sunbathing.



Lunching upon a fresh pesto panini while sitting at the foot of a beautiful fountain with a Saturday market in full vigor.


And, of course, purchasing some extra sweet treats to bring home. This particular stack of chocolate beauties comes in 16 scrumptious flavors, like “curry” and “Earl Grey”.



As if by the touch of a fairy godmother herself, I was able to do all this and get back to the airport with plenty of time to spare for my next flight, fed, sun-kissed and stress-free.

Have you ever left the airport during a layover? Where did you go?

Beth Santos
Beth is the founder and CEO of Wanderful, which she developed while riding through the streets of São Tomé and Príncipe on her blue Yamaha motorcycle. She is the creator of the WITS Travel Creator + Brand Summit and has been recognized in Business Insider as one of 17 travel industry changemakers, as one of BostInno's 50 on Fire, and as one of TimeOut's 10 people changing a better Boston.

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