A long layover may seem like a travel nightmare, but with a little planning, you can transform those lost hours into an unforgettable travel adventure.

What is a stopover?

More than your usual, hours-long layover, a stopover is your chance to explore a new city and make fun travel memories. Rather than spend four hours or more staring at the tarmac, step outside of the airport and take in a “bonus” destination. Stopovers can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days, but it will take some research and planning to get everything right.

Booking an extended layover or stopover

Turning an ordinary layover into a stopover can be a spontaneous adventure but typically, some preplanning is required. Online tools like Skyscanner, Google Flights and AirWander can help you navigate the process when planning a stopover or extended layover. Use these apps to do a multi-city search and get the best possible price for all legs of your trip.

Many airlines also are making it easier for passengers to plan a stopover. Carriers like IcelandAir, Thai Air and Copa Airlines in Panama incentivize passengers looking to turn a layover into a stopover by offering special travel packages and deals.

Enticing you to spend a little time and money in Lisbon or Porto, TAP Air Portugal offers special discounts on hotels, restaurants and attractions in the popular layover destinations. For a small fee, starting as low as $40 per person, passengers flying with Singapore Airlines receive a one-night hotel stay, free transportation from the airline’s Hop-On Bus and deals on local attractions and sights.

Planning a stopover is often easiest – and cheapest – when flying through a major city or airport hub. Stopover trips can be more difficult to plan with major airlines like United and Delta, but regional airlines like FinnAir and Qatar Airways are often more accommodating.

Thinking twice about booking that direct flight? With the right amount of planning and foresight, savvy travelers can often get two trips for the price of one with a strategically planned stopover.