So, you are going to crash at the airport?

I am not a huge fan airport sleepovers. It’s not comfortable. It’s not fun. It’s loud.

But, sometimes turning the airport into your own personal sleep sanctuary is the only option. Plus, it’s my favorite backpacker word: FREE.

Late-night arrivals, early morning flights, even running out (or being out) of money, makes overnight stays at these transport hubs a viable option.

Here’s what you need to have so you don’t spend the night wishing you were asleep:

1. Something to keep yourself warm. The floors of the airport get cold. Make sure you have warm clothing, a towel to drape over your body or (even better) a sleeping bag.

2. Headphones or earplugs. Airports echo, and other people staying overnight don’t really care if you are trying to get rest. They will talk. They will laugh. They will be loud. Drowning out the sound means a better night’s sleep.

3. Food and drinks. Most airports shutdown in the middle of the night, so if you don’t have food or drinks, you will be hungry and thirsty. Grab some bread, a jug of water, some snack bars … anything to hold you over until the gates come up in the morning.

4. Something cushion-y for your head. Sweatshirts, towels, bags … anything to serve as a pillow can help in your quest for sleep.

5. A book. In case you can’t sleep, read a book for a little bit to make those eyes heavy. Bonus if you have a guidebook — then you can read up on your next town and kill time.

6. Locks. Just because you are sleeping in an airport doesn’t mean you should let your guard down. Lock your bags.

7. Toiletries. Nothing is worse than waking up in the morning and realizing your toothbrush and toothpaste aren’t easily accessible. Keep ’em nearby in a carry-on. Just remember to stow them into your checked luggage before you go through security. Otherwise, bye-bye toothpaste.

8. Hours. Make sure the airport is open at night. Some airports (not many) will kick you right on out.

9. A laptop. If you have it, bring it. Many airports have free wifi so you can check e-mail, watch movies online and write.

10. A smile. It isn’t always fun. But, smile. You’re in an airport, headed to someplace (probably) pretty awesome. Keep your wits about you, be friendly … even if your back is stiff, you have dark circles under your eyes, etc. No one wants a meanie boarding their flight.

Do you have other suggestions? Leave a comment!

16 comments

  1. Something to cover your eyes is also a must, those florescent lights burn through your eyelids and it can be impossible to sleep. Number 7 is also crucial because you will feel disgusting the next day!

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  2. Well, you covered everything you need. If you gotta sleep in the airport, being prepared is the best thing. We’ve been stuck in many an airport during long layovers and it’s not fun. Sometimes it is worth it to pay the cash for one of the airport lounges. They are so much more comfortable and with snacks included and a comfortable couch or lounge chair you feel far more refreshed.

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    1. Makes me feel like a complete wooz. I griped, kicked & screamed when I missed my connection to San Antonio & had to wait an additional four hours!

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      1. Hahaha!!!! Try waiting 12 hours!!! Or more! The worst is when flights are delayed/canceled because you can’t mentally prepare for it ahead of time. I’ve always been the grumpiest when that happens. Otherwise, so long as I now I am doing it, I am OK with killing time/sleeping in an airport.

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