What's Edward Snowden up to?

So Edward Snowden is still stuck in a Moscow airport.

As a fellow traveller you can feel his pain. You might not have had the added stress of a world superpower hunting you down for committing treason, but we've all experienced the eye-bleeding boredom of an extended stay in an airport. It's not what you'd call fun.

Snowden has so far spent a couple of weeks wandering the halls of Sheremetyevo Airport, trying to figure out what to do with himself. A few weeks ago I spent nine hours in Christchurch Airport, so I have at least a slim idea of what he's going through: the constant boarding calls, the uncomfortable seats, the expensive coffee, the stale air.

As a public service, therefore, and going under the assumption that Snowden reads Fairfax Media and hasn't topped 30 page impressions this month, I thought I'd share my airport time-wasting tips with him. Chin up Eddie, you'll be in Ecuador in no time.

Sample the local beers

Watch other travellers walk by in the terminal and see if you can pick the Ugg wearers without looking at their feet.

It might be just an airport, but it's still a foreign country, and provided your assets haven't been frozen by the CIA you can always afford to try a couple of local brews. In Christchurch I went for Speight's and Mac's. Snowden, presumably, could tuck into a few Baltikas or Yarpivos.

Find the tackiest souvenir imaginable

Airport souvenir shops generally have more tack than an America's Cup race, so rather than fight it, embrace it. Trawl around for the most ridiculous item you can find. Maybe make it a competition with friends. At least you'll have a story when you arrive in Ecuador with the St Basil's Cathedral snow globe.

Play "spot the Uggs"


Somehow Ugg boots have become acceptable outdoors and travel wear, despite the fact that they're clearly glorified slippers. As a fun game to pass the time, watch other travellers walk by in the terminal and see if you can pick the Ugg wearers without looking at their feet. It's surprisingly easy.

Sit in a coin-operated massage chair

But don't pay for a massage. Who actually does that? Instead just perch yourself in one of the few airport chairs that wasn't specifically designed to make you want to get up straight away and go shopping.

Divulge state secrets

OK this one's just for Snowden. Come on, what else have you got?

Try on some fancy clothes

Even with the absence of sales tax, few of us can actually afford to shop at all of the high-end stores that seem to populate most airports. But why not try instead of buy? Size up some Ralph Lauren, drape yourself in Burberry, go wild in Chanel. And then hand the clothes back and leave.

Play "I've been there!"

Given Snowden is American he may not be much chop at this game, but I've found a great way amuse yourself and enrage fellow travellers is to wait for a boarding call to, say, Seoul, and then smugly say, "I've been there!" Now boarding, flight to Nairobi. "I've been there!" And so on. It never gets old.

Google yourself

Probably much more fun if you're, say, Edward Snowden than, say, Eddie McGuire.

Read foreign versions of magazines

You can't understand what they're saying, but it's always fun to flip through the pages of Russian FHM, or some of the gossip mags, or a home and garden tome, and realise that they're pretty much the same the world over – with the addition of a few oligarchs. If you're in Japan, however... Prepare yourself.

Plan your next holiday

Just stare at the departures board and read through the list of destinations. If that's not enough to get the travel bug scratching then I don't know what is. Apparently Ecuador is lovely this time of year.

How do you waste time on long airport layovers? What do you think Edward Snowden should be doing?

Email: b.groundwater@fairfaxmedia.com.au

Instagram: instagram.com/bengroundwater