Nobody enjoys sleeping at the airport, but sometimes flight plans leave us no option. An overnight layover, a strange departure time, or terrible weather delays can all lead to an overnight stay. When this necessary evil happens, it’s best to have a plan in place so that your sleepover can go as smoothly, securely, and safely as possible. Who knows, you might actually catch some shuteye too.
Do Your Research
A night at the airport can go a lot easier if you’ve developed a strategy ahead of time. Will you be sleeping before or after security? What are the rules for spending the night in this particular airport (some close overnight). What’s the best place to park yourself. Use a website like SleepinginAirports.net to learn expert tips from past travelers.
With research you’ll learn that some airports are more accommodating to overnight guests than others. Singapore’s Changi Airport, for example, provides plentiful power outlets, reclining rest chairs, and even a spa for passenger comfort. Other airports, like New York’s LaGuardia, are less coveted due to poor amenities, uncomfortable chairs, and unfriendly staff.
Dress in Layers
While most airports will tolerate your presence, many don’t love having overnight guests. One way they discourage this is by making sure the terminal buildings are absolutely freezing at night. If it’s winter, they’ll leave the doors open; if it’s summer they’ll pump up the AC.
Combat this by dressing warmly (even if your final destination is tropical). If you really want to be comfortable consider bringing along a sleeping bag. Headphones and earplugs aren’t bad ideas either.
Keep Your Belongings Secure
It’s hard to fall asleep when you know you need to keep your guard up, and it’s so important to keep your belongings safe from would-be thieves. How do you keep an eye on your bags while still getting some shuteye? By keeping everything drawn closely to your body. Learn to sleep hugging your luggage, sprawled on top of it, or by using it as a pillow, so that any tampering would immediately rouse you.
If you don’t trust yourself to sense any disturbance, you have a couple of options. One is to see if the airport has luggage lockers where you can lock up your things before trying to sleep. Another is to bring along a companion and sleep in shifts. The last is to pull an all-nighter (more on this below).
Finding a Place to Sleep
Finding a comfortable place to sleep is the biggest challenge of all. If you’re lucky, the airport will have benches or chairs that you can spread yourself across. Sometimes though, these chairs have sharp handrails to discourage this very practice.
Take some time to explore the airport. Look for a spot monitored by a security camera or near a guard. If possible, try to figure out where other overnighters are sleeping and find a spot near them.
Try to find a spot near other sleepers, and possibly near security. If the airport staff seems friendly, try to ask them where you might be able to bed down.
Be Prepared to Stay Awake
Even with the best-laid plans, there’s a pretty good chance that a night’s sleep inside an airport won’t be very restful. You may spend your entire night propped against a wall, watching the minutes tick by (and they’ll tick by extra slowly, you can be sure). Prepare for this possibility by bringing along snacks, water, and some form of entertainment like a book or an ipad. Find a comfortable spot, settle in and wait for morning.