How to Kill 8 Hours in LAX

Los Angeles International airport is arguably one the of the busiest in the world

As a state of the art facility, there is no shortage of provisions for entertainment. After passing through the golden gates of security, you are welcomed into consumerist heaven. It’s easy to kill a few hours - if you are also looking to drop several thousand dollars that is. Shop at stores like Burberry, Gucci and Tom Ford; sip champagne and eat caviar at Petrossian; or swing by the duty free if you’re in the mood to pick up a $4000 bottle of scotch. Some of the world’s most rich and famous call LA home so the sumptuousness should come as no surprise, but what are the rest of us supposed to do? 

Not to worry, there are still lots of things to keep the rest of us common folk sufficiently entertained. Here’s a few suggestions after my own 8 hour stint in LAX.

1. Nap

The tried and true airport go-to for backpackers and business travellers alike. We all know there’s no easier or more efficient way to kill an hour or two than to find a comfy spot and catch a few z’s. Finding a comfortable location can sometimes require a little creativity. Long benches are a god-send, and my heart breaks a little every time I stroll by and see them divided with individual armrests. For those of you daring (or desperate enough) theres always the floor with your carry-on for a pillow. 

I’m happy to say that none of the above are necessary in LA. Thankfully they have the most beautiful lounge areas equipped with comfortable chairs, tables, benches and lamps. So pull up a seat, set an alarm (you don’t want to miss your boarding call!) and take a nap. Not only is it free, it will help you feel a little more rested before the next leg of your journey.

2. Exercise

Once you are rested, why not get your blood flowing back to all of your extremities with a little exercise? You may feel you’ve gotten your fair share of physical exertion for the day while carting your 50 pound luggage across miles of airport terminals. If that’s the case, feel free to skip to number 3. 

There are lots of free, bodyweight exercise routines available online (a lot of my own favourites are saved to Pinterest) but I wouldn’t recommend anything too intense, just enough to get your heart pumping and oxygen flowing. 

For long-haul flights I generally am wearing workout tights and runners so this is perfect. If you’re dressed in business or more restricting attire, consider packing an outfit change into your carry on. 

3. Yoga

Before setting foot onto another 12 hour flight, let’s get your body back in alignment. Yoga for hundreds of years has been practiced in order to properly stack bones and muscles in preparation for meditation. If it can work for monks before hours of sitting on the floor without moving an inch, it can work for you. 

You can find millions of free videos online and stream to either your computer or phone. If you're a newbie to yoga, watching the video may be best so you can see visual cues. If you have tried yoga before, I prefer to play the video on my phone, plug in my headphones and tuck it into a pocket so I can let the instructors voice guide me. 

LAX has free wi-fi (hallelujah!) so you can easily search for bodyweight exercises and yoga lessons that are suitable for you. The biggest hurdle will likely be getting over feeling silly doing this in front of other people, but take a word of advice - no one cares what you do an an airport. It’s like an other-worldly dimension, so go ahead and do your thing.

 I’m a personal fan of Vinyasa Flow.

4. Coffee and Cookies

Caviar and champagne not in the budget? How about just sticking to good ol’ tea and/or coffee and some baked goods. You’ll get a nice caffeine boost and let’s be honest, you deserve that treat, travelling can be stressful after all. Get a spot right by the window and watch the planes land, or open up a newspaper or magazine. I got a free magazine with the purchase of some snacks from a little general store which ironically, was all about Toronto. 

5. Make New Friends

When all else fails, make new friends. Aside from napping, this is the easiest and most entertaining way to pass the time. People are always more open and friendly when they are on the move. I often give my mom a hard time about striking up conversations with random people but sometimes, it is actually quite interesting. She’ll go to buy a water bottle during a layover in Germany and find out that the cashier has a niece who lives up the road from the family cottage back home. 

I became fast friends with this lovely couple, Tim and Nancy, when we were getting off the plane at LAX and realized we were both on the same connecting flight. Unfortunately since our boarding passes weren’t printed in Toronto we had to check-in at the counter, which of course didn’t open for several more hours, so we went on an adventure to find a little bar that was open so we could relax for a little while. 

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There are many other things to do of course, like window shopping or card games, but the point of all of the above is to prepare you both mentally and physically for another potentially painstaking flight. If you’ve got any travel tips of your own, let us know in the comments!