5 best ways for airport travellers to decompress

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Business travelers often spend more than their fair share of time stuck in airports waiting for connecting flights or biding their time through lengthy delays. Thankfully, airports in larger cities are catching on to the fact that travelers need a quiet refuge to decompress, relax or get some work done, and today's frequent fliers can find everything from spas to gyms as soon as they make their way through security. Although the options aren't always cheap, they can add a level of comfort or much-needed productivity to an otherwise stressful travel experience.

Check out the five best ways to get away from it all before you make it to your final destination:

1. Get a stiff drink

The bar will always be a popular spot for travelers looking to decompress, says Bob Diener, co-founder of Hotels.com and Getaroom.com.

"People love getting a drink, and they love sports," Diener says. "Sports bars in airports are really building out. Standing around, drinking and watching the games is an excellent way to pass the time when you're waiting for your flight."

Also, premium bars at airports are growing in popularity just as premium restaurants have done in recent years, says Gary Hayward, brand ambassador of Bombay Sapphire gin. The Bombay Sapphire Lounge at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York frequently welcomes business travelers looking to decompress, Hayward says.

"What we're seeing today is that people want a place where they aren't rushed, where they don't have to stand around three-deep at the bar," Hayward says.

Bars are also a great option for travelers with a little time to kill -- but not a lot. Even travelers with a 45-minute layover can usually find 15 or 20 minutes to have a drink, he says. "It's one of those things you can do in a short period of time, relax for a few minutes and then get on with your travels."

2. Go to the spa

Spas that offer quick 15- or 30-minute treatments are popping up at airports nationwide, says Orbitz Senior Editor Jeanenne Tornatore.

"You're getting that relaxation, but you're also getting it in 15 minutes so you're in and you're out," she says. "Also, in many cases people really need to get that manicure done before they make it to their meeting or wedding they're headed to."

At the exhale spa at the American Express Centurion Lounge in the Dallas/Fort-Worth International Airport, weary travelers can get a 15-minute long manicure, facial or massage. The majority of visitors to the spa are business travelers, says Laura Benge, national spa director at exhale, adding that manicures are the most popular service offered -- for men and women.

"A lot of people just run out of time preparing for a trip and didn't have time to get their nails done," Benge says. "For people heading to big meetings or presentations, it's great to be able to clean up a little bit and decompress from the stress of carrying luggage or sitting at a computer. More travelers are realizing the importance of taking care of yourself when you're on the road and finding that moment of zen."

3. Burn a few calories

"We're seeing a lot more fitness centers coming into airports," Diener says. "Some are actually inside the terminal, while others may be at nearby hotels, and you can just pay a one-time fee to access them."

At the Dallas/Fort-Worth International Airport, the gym at the Grand Hyatt hotel can be accessed for $30, and at San Francisco International, Terminal 2 boasts a "yoga room" where travelers can work their way through their favorite poses or simply stretch for a while. Airport gyms are so common these days, there's actually a website devoted to finding them -- AirportGyms.com.

Of course just walking to your gate or making a few laps around the terminal is often good enough, Diener says.

"You can take a fast-paced walk through the airport -- sometimes that's all you really need. Just stretch your legs and work up a little sweat. Some of the Delta lounges coming into JFK will have showers," he says. "Overall, travelers are seeing the importance of getting in a good workout to improve the rest of their trip. We expect to see more and more airports with fitness centers."

4. Grab a nap

To save on airfare, many travelers opt for flights with longer layovers, but longer layovers mean more time to kill, and thus sleeping and relaxation "pods" are becoming more common, Diener says. The pods, arranged like small rooms, often contain a couch, a desk and a pillow. One company, Minute Suites, offers small rooms for $34 an hour at several airports nationwide.

"It's a place to stretch out and rest up a little bit between flights," Diener says. "Sure, people still leave the airport and go to a hotel room, but if you just need a couple of hours, a hotel is going to be much more expensive, and if you stay in the airport you don't have to navigate your way back through security."

Small rent-by-the-hour rooms are ideal for the traveler who needs a nap but doesn't want to stretch out on a bunch of chairs at the gate, Tornatore says.

"Maybe you are on a business trip and you have to go straight from your flight to your meeting and you need to get some shuteye," she says. "It's the perfect option for people who want to be somewhere quiet with a lot of privacy."

5. Check out the business center

Although a lot of people may pay for admission to club lounges when they need to get work done, Tornatore advises checking to see if your airport has its own business center.

"Look for a business center. It's not something you're going to see publicized right next to the food court, but if you go to the information desk they can give you a directory so you can see what's available in your terminal," she says.

Business centers are perfect for travelers who need to get online, print documents or hop on a conference call, Tornatore says. Although not every airport will have them, they are on the rise.

"It depends on what you're looking for," she says. "Many travelers love getting work accomplished while they're on the road. If you can do that while sitting at the gate waiting for your flight, that's great, but if you need a real desk or access to a printer, check out the business center."

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