Let's say I am leaving for a place and, since there is a huge traffic hassle in my city, I am leaving 2-3 hours earlier.

Can I use the following sentence to describe what I am going to do?

I am going to the airport with the buffer of 2-3 hours.

Does this expression sound odd to the natives? If the answer is yes, what would a more natural way of describing it be?

6 Answers 6


I think that the word buffer is perfectly appropriate, but a more natural phrasing would be

I'm giving myself a 2-3 hour buffer to get to the airport in good time.

  • Sorry for off-topic disturbing! Can we say in a good time too? I have a bad habit in adding an "A" before many things in my sentences. I want to know if it is correct or not in this sentence to add an "A" before good time. Commented May 1, 2013 at 22:53
  • 2
    @PersianCat, the "a" wouldn't be used, typically, in that sentence. "In good time" is idiomatic where "in a good time" would mean something different - like in a good time period, I believe. Commented May 1, 2013 at 23:13
  • @KristinaLopez Thanks! So I have to break this habit! :I Commented May 1, 2013 at 23:19

I'd probably say margin rather than buffer:

I'm giving myself a two- or three-hour margin to get to the airport.

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    Hey, we're practically twins! :-)
    – Hellion
    Commented May 1, 2013 at 22:27

Yes, it does sound odd. A more natural way of saying it would be "I am going to the airport 2-3 hours early".

  • This may have answered OP's question, however I am still interested in the question in the title - natural phrase instead of 'buffer period'. What would it be: "I am going to the airport 2-3 hours early. These 2-3 hours is my ______"?
    – NS.X.
    Commented May 1, 2013 at 21:53

An alternative to Tristan's excellent answer is:

I'm going to aim to get to the airport with 2-3 hours to spare.

  • That's another good way to say it.
    – Tristan
    Commented May 1, 2013 at 22:34
  • Although I think the point is not to arrive 2-3 hours early, but to allow 2-3 for traffic such that you arrive at the "normal" time.
    – Jim
    Commented May 2, 2013 at 1:12
  • @Jim: In which case you could say "I'm going to leave for the airport with 2-3 hours to spare".
    – Matt
    Commented May 2, 2013 at 11:42

One of my father's familiar phrases was always: "you have to budget for delays!" So I would say something like, I have budgeted in an extra two hours of travel time for possible traffic/security delays.


In the UK, while 'buffer' is a reasonable name for the period, the names I'm most familiar with would be either 'extra', 'margin' or 'leeway', as in "I'm giving myself 2-3 hours extra to get to the airport" or "I'm giving myself 2-3 hours leeway to get to the airport".

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