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How I Turned a Seven-Hour Layover into Aloha

Aaron McHugh

Anyone who travels for business knows that it is not glamorous. Anyone who says Oh but you get to eat in great restaurants has not traveled for business. Those of us who spend days and months away from home each year know that it wears on you.

We’ve all seen the magazine columns for “Road Warrior” that teach you how to work your abs while sitting in your fuselage seat. On the road it can be difficult to eat healthy, exercise and sleep well.

Recently I found myself at the Philadelphia, PA airport with seven hours before my flight left for Denver and I decided to run an experiment.

The experiment

Could I spend less than $75 ($10 x hour) and actually turn these seven hours into an enjoyable experience?

It’s easy to sit in front of your computer or drink too much.

Instead could I arrive home refreshed, having exercised and eaten well?

Here is my story.

I hope you enjoy and are encouraged to alter your next layover into some Aloha.

Put on some tunes and plug in your headphones

I’ve found that they very first place I have to start is by plugging in my headphones and tuning out the world around me.

Generally I’m pretty sensitive to environmental noise and plugging in allows me to alter my environment.

My buddy Matt Toth taught me this trick.

It is amazing how much this can help improve my mood and upgrade the quality of my input.

Get out the walking shoes

I always travel with running gear.

Even if I think I may only get in 10 minutes on my trip, I still pack them every time.

I’ve been a runner for over twenty years and for me there are few rivals to refresh me like exercise does.

I find it telling that you can find almost anything in an airport but a gym.

You can find casinos, booze galore, food-food-and-more-food, but no gym.

I asked one of the information booth employees “Do you have a gym”.

Her answer was really smart, “No, but if you want to walk all the way to the end of the terminal and back I hear it is a mile”.

Game on.

Headphones in, running shoes on, I walked back and forth end-to-end for an hour.

It was awesome.

I felt like I was getting at least some form of exercise and was able to scout other options for Aloha in the airport terminals.

I think I ended up with somewhere around 3.5 miles.

I wore out my suitcase wheels and have to now repair them, but it was worth it.

Choosing rest and restoration

Interior of a Minute Suites provided by Minute Suites
Interior of a Minute Suites provided by Minute Suites

As I walked up and down the terminal, I passed a massage place, shoeshine booths and a Minute Suites.

I’d heard about these mini-rooms that you could rent for an hour, take a nap, watch some Netflix or just get away from the crowd.
(Read more on Minute Suites –NY Times by Christine Negroni)

As I passed the Minute Suites seven or eight times, I debated through the list of excuses “that’s too expensive” or “you can sleep at the gate”.

I was running an experiment right?

$36 to take a nap for an hour, in private, with no outside noise, in the dark, with clean blankets and pillowcases?


It was really a nice break.

I was shown to my private quarters, asked if I needed a wake up call and got the quick orientation on how to run the TV and thermostat.

An hour nap and I was a new man.

Fresh food and wine

I found a nice little wine bar and ordered up a fresh cheese and fruit plate.

Nothing extravagant but I sat underneath a patio furniture umbrella seated around potted plants and trees.

It was almost like I was outside.

By this time, I’m back on email and responding to work needs.

The difference is I've got a shxx eating grin on my face.

What’s your story?

Would love to hear your Road Warrior stories.

Feel free to share your tips in the comment section of this post.

Minute Suites locations

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
Concourse B at Gate B15
(404) 762-7660
Philadelphia International Airport
Terminal A-B Link
(215) 937-1076
Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport
Terminal D at D23
(972) 973-4235
Now Open!

Christine Negroni

Readers-check out Christine’s travel blog www.gohowknowhow.com
She is a career journalist, author and featured in television and magazines.
She has more airline miles under her belt than we might have collectively between us. 

Check out her portfolio. 

8 thoughts on “How I Turned a Seven-Hour Layover into Aloha

  1. Aaron, I enjoyed reading about your experiment in waiting. I’m a firm believer that a great trip, wait, let me rephrase that, a great time, begins in the head. People invariably have the experience they expect. You sought a good time and darned if you didn’t find one. Well done.

    1. Thanks Christine. “Begins in the head” is a new find for me over the past few years. Having the experience you expect to find is not easily found on your boarding pass. Glad we have Road Warriors like you to help point the way.

  2. So glad to hear another person talk about Minute Suites. A splendid getaway from a loud, dirty, and congested terminal.

    1. JB would you believe that i’ve tried to respond to this 3 times via my iPhone ? sometimes a desktop is simply easier. Hope you made good use of your 7+ hrs in SFO. The International Terminal there is the best. They have an aviation museum exhibit and great Asian food there.
      Next time-check it out.

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