Cheap and easy layovers can be a real trip

Stuck at an airport this summer while waiting to connect to your vacation destination? Let the vacation start right then and there, using your layover for a cheap mini-adventure.

Let's face it: airline service probably won't get cheaper or better, so chunks of time between transfers are more likely. You might even get bumped. The hours can provide leisure instead of frustration. Just make sure that if you leave the airport, reserve enough time to get through security again and catch your flight.

Robert Reid, the U.S. travel editor for Lonely Planet, pointed out to WalletPop that many airports are far from city centers, but are close to smaller villages. By all means, explore them. Reid even suggested that you pay attention to which connecting airport you'll be landing at, to ensure you can spend time in an interesting place outside of the airport limits.

"A great choice is Narita in Tokyo," he said in an e-mail message to WalletPop. "Too far to go into Shinjuku for shopping, but near a great town in itself. A couple years ago I was there for about eight hours, and took a commuter train to nearby Narita village. There's a historic temple there, botanical garden, a free museum. Then I got a weird stuffed animal for a niece's birthday and stopped by a traditional eel restaurant. I was the only non-Japanese person there. I watched the chef up front -- slicing up fresh eel -- and had a nice meal for about $10 to $15, then watched Japanese baseball at a small teahouse by the train station. I spent about $25 in all -- and had a great few hours."