Sleeping In Airports For The Stranded And Frugal Minded
Whether it's an unplanned layover, a means of making an early flight, or simply an attempt to save money on accommodation, the season of sleeping in airports is upon us. I know, I am doing it.
As I type this article, dozens of other weary holiday travelers are hunkering down in chairs and on the floor inside Albany International Airport. Sure, the lights are bright, the cleaning crew loud, and the temperature cold, but it could be worse. There is pleasant classical music coming from the ceiling, the chairs, if you are in one, are comfortable, and it is warmer in here than it is outside.
Sleeping in airports is a basic skill for frugal travelers. I say skill because with some experience and preparation, it is not something that must simply be endured, but a way to save money and time.
Here are some tips:
Know before you go
Research is key to a comfortable night in any airport. First off, you must know if you will be allowed to sit there after flights have stopped for the night. Beyond that, you want to know the basic layout of the place, what facilities are available, what the temperature, noise, and light levels are, and how many other people will be trying to do the same thing.
The first place to go for this information is the airport's website. This will provide you with a map, list of services available, and likely some rules pertaining to overnights. For more information, check to see if your airport is listed in the helpful Airport Guides series. After these resources, it is time for more specific details and no one has more than The Budget Traveler's Guide to Sleeping in Airports.
Pack for sleeping
Lots of packing guides tell travelers to fill their carry-ons with things like toiletries and changes of clothes. Not me. I say, bring what you know will make you comfortable, not what you think you may need.
If you are planning to sleep in an airport (or fear you may be), this means packing to sleep. The big three concerns for the airport squatter are light, noise, and temperature. Must haves include headphones or earplugs, a scarf or eye mask, and a blanket or light-weight sleeping bag. It sounds obvious, but having these things means the difference between a great night's sleep and starring blankly across the terminal for 10 hours.
After you have found a place for these items, you might want to consider bringing something to soften a hard floor. A blanket, thin, partial-length, sleeping pad, or a pillow could all help prevent bruising and soreness.
Don't forget these luxuries
Be sure to leave room for a timepiece, specifically one with an alarm, and anything else that might make the time pass more gently. My recommendation is the ever-useful deck of playing cards.
I know what you are all thinking: "playing cards? what about hooking up the laptop you hypocrite?" Fair enough. For those, like me, looking to get their interwebs fix there are several guides and maps that will help you find WiFi wherever you go. There is even a wiki to help find power outlets in airports around the world.
Eat, drink, be merry
Going too long without food will only leave you cranky. There are numerous ways to anticipate what kind of inflight meal you will be served. You can even share pictures of your meals and write reviews. Even can join in. But the sad truth is that lately, you will not be served any meal on the airplane at all. This only makes airport eating more important.
And don't forget to have some kind of water. I know the bans on liquids make carrying water bottles around airports a crime. I also know that an airport is drier than a desert. By a bottle of water if you must, but please, stay hydrated.
If slumber parties in museums can be so much fun then why can't we enjoy our nights in airports? With a little planning and preparation, your next night in the airport will be more comfortable and fun as staying in the dingy hotel across the parking lot. I promise.
Have any other tips for staying in airports? Any stories of success or failure? Do you love airports as much as this guy? Let us know in the comments.