Posted by: eureka | June 12, 2008

How to Sleep in an Airport

If, for some strange reason, your browser has been acting up again and you ended up on this site (that’s how most of our visitors arrive), you may now be curious about this odd idea of sleeping in airports. You are probably asking yourself one (or all) of the following questions: How do I do it? What should I bring with me? What tips do you have to share with us airport sleeping newbies? Well, here are some ideas that will help you get started in your airport sleeping adventures.
 

Tips

1. Always Have a Backup Plan: This is the most important tip for anyone who voluntarily sleeps in airports. Airport officials are not totally supportive of the airport sleeping idea. Although in 95% of the airports you won’t be kicked out, you will be asked why you are there, why you are not in a hotel like normal people and they will ask for proof that you are flying out the next day. So BE PREPARED to answer those questions! They seem to not appreciate us using these massive wastes of space as our personal hotels — go figure!?!? 

2. Expect your flight to be cancelled and be prepared:  If weather or a schedule delay cause you to sit in the airport for longer than you had hoped, it would have been better to have been prepared.  Wouldn’t it have been?  Your emergency airport survival kit should include: 

  • a cheap inflatable pool raft (they fold up nicely and make the hard floor a lot more comfortable).  However, keep in mind that in some airports sleeping on the floor is a no-no.
  • eye shades
  • ear plugs
  • bottled water
  • snacks
  • books/magazines
  • personal music device with large headphones.  You’ll want full coverage to block out loud announcements.
  • an alarm clock or a pen and post-it pad.  If you are travelling solo, write a “Wake me at 5:00 AM” note and stick a few on and around you — it works.  People will wake you.
  • an airline blanket and/or pillow (borrowed – NOT STOLEN!!!).
  • disinfectant wipes.  Cleanliness is a problem in some airports, so these handy wipes will make your “bed” for the night a little less germ and grease covered.
  • tissue/toilet paper.  Remember, in some third world airport bathrooms, you will be forced to pay a King’s ransom for two single ply sheets of toilet paper.
  • tipping money if you forgot to pack aforementioned toilet paper
  • a package of potpourri or a Glade Plug-In for those special airports where odour is an issue.  The Glade Plug-In has not been tested on this site yet.
  • Entertain yourselves, A Twister mat and spin card are light and take up little room in your carry on.  Travelling in a group, pack Survivor: The Game.  Both will provide endless entertainment.  If these are unavailable to you, luggage carts and airport wheelchairs have also brightened a few faces around here.

3. Bring something comfortable to sit on: If you have read any of the entries on this site, you’ll probably have read about those pesky chairs with the arm handles and curved seats. These seats are not only uncomfortable, but also unfair to airport sleepers’ rights (we have a right to be comfortable when we sleep, don’t we?) and should be made illegal! Not everyone has a sleeping bag with them, so if you have the aforementioned inflatable raft, a towel or something else that is cushiony throw it down on the floor and try that method. In some airports bringing out your sleeping bag might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Please remember that if you take advantage of the free lodging too much, the airport officials will “crackdown” on airport sleepers making it more difficult for us to obtain reasonable sleepage.

4. It’s better to arrive than depart: The Arrivals lounges are usually more comfortable than the Departures lounges.  It’s amazing how different the two areas can be in some airports.  Of course 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.  While the arrivals lounge aims to make all those family members, who are waiting for your flight to finally arrive after a four hour delay, a little more comfortable until you and your bags finally show up. 

5. When sleep is Impossible: In Geneva (one of those airports with plastic, arm handle, bucket seat chairs) I could not sleep. There was absolutely NOTHING to do and nobody around to talk to. If I didn’t have my journal, walkman and book with me I would have died of boredom. If you bring something to entertain yourself, the night will go faster.  See entertainment ideas listed at the end of item # 2.

6. Act Innocent: Even if you sleep in airports on regular basis — Do Not Act Like A Professional!!! Act like you REALLY do not want to be there and that there is absolutely nowhere else to go.  I find crying helps.  Remember, in the airport officials’ eyes “the airport is not a motel.” Ha, little do they know….

7. When you are FORCED to sleep in the airport: When you forced to stay over in an airport due to airline problems, make sure you are granted access to their lounge. This is especially recommended for the airports with uncomfortable chairs out in the main transit/departures lounge with the usual riff-raff. It is possible (unless you are a westerner in Karachi), so act determined and use your imagination!

8. Single Travellers Listen Up: Travelling solo can be a pain in the ass, especially when you are an airport sleeper. Remember that in the airports where few, if any, other people camp out in, 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 just leave your stuff sitting there. If you do you may see the bomb squad taking apart your bag by the time you return from the washroom.

9. Dress for the occasion:  Dress in layers.  Have clothes that will make you comfortable if it is unbearably hot or sub-arctically cold in your airport. We beg of you to please apply deodorant and we also remind you to pack a surgical mask to wear when the travellers around you have not applied deodorant.

10. Dealing with airport bribery: In some airports you will be asked for a bribe just to pass through a metal detector, enter an airport or to use the bathroom.  When approached, suddenly speak a new language.  Learn Klingon if a real language doesn’t interest you.   Although you understand you are being asked for money, be bubbly and happy, but confused by your tormentor’s actions.  When the offender holds out his/her hand for money, thank him, bow out of respect, shake his hand and smile.  Be incredibly dense and show no fear, unless the individual has a gun or other weapon pointed at you.  The object is to drag it out as long as you can until he hopefully gives up.  Unfortunately, this does not always work and it’s better to just pay the bloody “fee” – with lots of coin.    

11. Write us and give us the Lowdown: This is actually THE MOST IMPORTANT thing to do! Share your story with us by letting us know what the airport you camped out at was like. By submitting your experiences, good or bad or just general good to know information, you are helping to keep this site as up to date as possible.  And you’ll be thankful someone else’s contribution the next time you need to know about an airport.  We look forward to reading about your airport experiences!

12. Have Fun: Sleeping in airports is an adventure. Enjoy it! Have fun. From someone who has done it to save money or as a result of a layover, let me tell you that it can be fun and it adds an extra element of strangeness to your trip.

Sweet Dreams!

 


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