AIRPORT SLEEPING TIPS
Are your curious about sleeping in airports? It is always somewhat of an adventure, but I have slept in airports all over the world. When your flight arrives at midnight and your next one leaves at 8, it seems only expedient to sleep in the airport – transportation into that cheap accommodation in the city and back only consumes good sleeping time – and costs money. www.sleepinginairports is an invaluable resource.
1. Always Have a Backup Plan
Some airport officials are not totally supportive of the airport sleeping idea and you won’t be kicked out of a large majority of the airports, so most importantly, make sure you have a backup just in case. You might be asked why you are there, why you are not in a hotel like a normal person and they will ask for proof that you are flying out the next day. Us www.sleepinginairpots.com for information on the availability of airport lounges, WiFi, transit hotels, 24-hour food options, showers and much more at over 800 airports around the world.
When reports of an upcoming snowstorm, hurricane or erupting Icelandic volcano are in the news a few days before your trip, you really have no excuse but to go to the airport prepared for a longer than expected airport stay. Here are some recommended items for your airport survival kit:
2. Be Prepared.
Have eye shades, ear plugs, bottled water and snacks tissue/toilet paper, sleeping bag, pillow case that can be stuffed with clothes and entertainment: personal music device, laptop, books, magazines.
Final Tip: If you are travelling solo take a pen and some post-it notes. Write a “Wake me at 5:00 AM” note and stick a few on yourself and the seats around you – it works. People will wake you.
3. Be Safe.
Know where security is. Know where their office is located and look for video cameras in the spot you decide to stay the night. They’ve probably seen many airport sleepers before you and they will direct you to a safe spot. If you are travelling alone we recommend that you sleep near other travellers. Make sure they are actual travellers and not homeless people – it is sometimes hard to tell in certain airports. While there have never been any reports of attacks against airport sleepers, there have been a few bum fondlings. A few iPods and laptops have also gone missing! Be smart and be safe!
4. Get There Early.
If you are staying at a busy airport overnight, you’ll have to get there early if you want a good spot, especially during the summer season (peak airport sleeping season).
5. Scope It Out.
Finding a good spot may be your biggest challenge. If the situation looks dismal, explore the airport and various terminals. Take the terminal shuttles and go terminal hopping. Even if you are flying out of terminal A, you may discover that terminal C has better accommodation. In airports where there is an international and a domestic terminal, the domestic terminal closes at night so head over to the international terminal as it may remain open. Consider seating, temperature, announcements and people traffic when finding the best place to spend the night. You may need to be creative such as sleeping behind ticket counters, under and behind seats, in wheelchairs and on luggage conveyor belts. Your best source of info will be security, airport and airline staff. If you are nice, these people will likely direct you to a nice spot!
6. Just Park It.
If you are uncomfortable and unhappy with your surroundings in the terminal and do not want to pay for an airport hotel, go to the car rentals hall to find out the cost of a car rental and (assuming you can keep the car in the lot at no cost) sleep in the car. You can recline on padded seats and there will be no annoying noise. It is important to check the drop-off hours to ensure a staff member will be there the next morning!
7. Protect Your Bags.
A major concern when sleeping in the airport is obviously getting robbed while you sleep! If you can’t keep your bags in the left luggage office overnight (check our airport guides to find out if your airport has one), you’ll need to come up with a way to make sure someone can’t access your bags. How you do this really depends on where and how you sleep, so there is no right answer. In my experience, I have always slept with zippers facing either myself, the ground or the wall. This makes gaining access more difficult and potentially noisy. There have been times when I have slept with my arm or leg over or on top of the large bag, so that if it moves, I will wake. Some people have chained their bag to their leg. I’ve never had to go that far, simply because I’m generally a light sleeper and usually wake up if I sense someone near me.
8. Act Innocent (and Behave).
Act like you REALLY do not want to be there and that there is absolutely nowhere else to go. Crying helps. In the airport officials’ eyes “the airport is not a motel.” On the other hand, don’t abuse the system and abuse the airport’s hospitality. This advice is for people who want to save money on the cost of one night accommodation at an airport hotel. Staying at an airport for days, hanging your laundry in the terminal and cooking on a gas stove only ruins it for others who really need to sleep in the airport.
As many food concessions shut down at night around the time of the last flight, you’ll want to stock up on supplies (water and late night snacks) before everything closes.
10. It’s Sometimes Better to Arrive than Depart
The Arrivals lounges are sometimes more comfortable than seating near the Ticket Counter area. Airport logic seems to be that people who are departing immediately go to their gates, they don’t sit around the ticket counters for hours. 11. Dress for the Occasion. Dress in layers. Have clothes that will make you comfortable if it is unbearably hot or cold in your airport. Pack a hat, gloves and fleece blanket in your carry-on!
11. Single Travellers.
You will have to take your luggage with you wherever you go. Even though you don’t have to worry about people stealing your belongings, you can’t leave your stuff sitting there unattended. If you do you may see the bomb squad taking apart your bag by the time you return from the washroom.
12. Perks of Being a Stranded Traveller
Some airports have a supply of cots use for stranded travellers during snow storms and other weather delays? Some will even throw in a pillow, blanket, toiletries and food vouchers.
You no longer need to be flying first class to receive first class service and comfort. There are many wonderful pay-in lounges that economy ticket travellers have access to – for a relatively small fee. The fee includes buffet style meals, drinks (including alcohol), wifi, showers and comfortable chairs. Some lounges even offer massages. A few lounges are open 24 hours, but most are open early morning. Most lounges (even the pay-in lounges) have a dress code, of sorts.
To freshen up the next morning, some airports even have shower facilities that can be used for small fee that will cover the cost of the towel rental and shampoo/soap. Try the airport hotel attached to the airport to use their gym/pool area for a fee. Another option is to use a pay-in lounges sometimes with shower facilities. And finally, as a last, and free resort, some less modest travellers use the public washroom to wash in the sink. If you choose this option, try not to make too much of a mess!
15. The Early Morning Wake-up Call.
If you are sleeping on the seats or if you are in the way of airport traffic, you should expect to receive an early morning visit from airport security doing the rounds to wake-up overnight sleepers around 5:00AM. If you are in a less conspicuous location, they may not bother you.
16. Airport Hotels.
While one of the objectives to sleeping in the airport is to save some money on hotels, you may need to pay for a room – more comfortable and with a shower, but no adventure. Case out the location of the nearest airport hotels. Sometimes they are cheaper online but often you can deal for a lower rate at the front desk.
17. Have Fun!
While there will be times when you can’t sleep, sleeping in airports is not only extreme budget travel, it can be an adventure. Enjoy it! Have fun! Explore your inner homeless person. Most importantly…. make the most of the situation! The best memories of travel are the offbeat experiences.