It took a while to develop our airport sleeping skills. My first time of ‘airport sleeping’ (surviving the night or transfer at an airport as comfortable as possible without booking a hotel) was on my birthday. It was in New Zealand, Auckland. We were prepared and had great fun indulging the airport dynamics. There was even a birthday cake at 12 midnight. I remember a haka dance performance for someone that had just arrived and it felt like my birthday song. I will remember this special night forever. Looking back this was the kickoff of our airport sleeping adventures.
Nowadays people from all over the world fly to everywhere. Flying is easy, cheap and it is super efficient. It makes people able to travel, work and have friends all over the globe. Cancellations and – very long – delays are part of the flying experience too unfortunately. You might have to sleep in an airport yourself some day.
We stayed over at airports all over the world multiple times. We learned some tricks and we want to share those airport sleeping tips with you. This is your airport sleeping roadmap. Follow the steps and you will be fine. We promise you airport sleeping can be quite interesting in the good way.
Did you know some airports have cots available to sleep on? Find out here which airport can provide you with an cot to stay over at an airport comfortably .
Why we sometimes sleep at airports
The times we were sleeping at an airport we choose to sleep in that particular airport on purpose. In case we have booked an early flight we always sleep in the airport. And early means that our boarding time is between 06.00 and 08.00 AM. It saves you a ride from downtown in the middle of the night and saves a lot of money. We don’t need to pay for an expensive cab ride and we don’t have to pay for a night in a hotel or hostel.
We will tell you how to optimize your night at the airport in 5 steps.
Step 1 Prep before you head to the airport
Do you know those preppers who store dozens of cans with food and many liters of water in their homes in case the world gets destroyed? You have to be a very light version of them.
I think one of the best hacks we adapted during our travels is to bring your own food to an airport. This is for three reasons. The best reason is that airport food is not the nicest food and we love food too much to eat terrible food. Reason two is that the shops are not always open at the moment you want to eat (grumpiness warning). And reason number three is – eating at an airport is very expensive and isn’t the biggest bang for your buck foodwise.
We like to bring local food with us to the airport so we eat like kings and we avoid to pay 6 dollars for a lousy sandwich, which is great. If you fly with a lowcost airline it can be nice to bring your breakfast and a snack or meal for your time flying as well. Don’t forget to bring enough water! You can always bring a empty water bottle with you and fill it up after customs (otherwise you have to throw it away).
Also, bring a few essential necessities with you. Welcome to step 2.
Step 2 Make sure you bring the airport sleeping necessities with you
Our airport sleeping necessities:
- eye mask
- yoga mat
- toilet paper
- bottle of water
- liner / very light sleeping bag
- toothbrush and tooth paste
- own food
- a lot of very warm clothes
- a padlock for your bag is optional
Our yoga mats are among the basics we carry with us during our travels. This is not only to stay fit, they are multifunctional. At airports – to be more specific; airport floors – they operate as our beds. It is so much better than sleeping in a chair or on the cold hard tiles. There will be always – to our experience – nice and clean bathrooms available where you can change clothes, brush your teeth and refresh your face.
Step 3 Pick your favorite airport sleeping spot
First of all, we advise to pick your arrival time carefully. Late enough so you don’t have to kill too much time before you can close your eyes. But early enough to beat the airport sleeping crowds and therefore to have a chance on a good spot. Also schedule some time for your preparations and finding your perfect spot. We noticed that the quietest hours at airports are between 23 – 24h at night and 5 – 6h in the morning. Most airports have a gap of a few hours that barely a flight departs or arrives. That is your ‘chance for a nap’ time slot. Make sure you get it.
It is worth it to take some time to pick a good sleeping spot. Since the main purpose of your visit is to have a little sleepover you better pick the best spot available. You need to feel comfortable, safe and sometimes some privacy is even possible. Have a careful look at the first picture of this blog. We were in some kind of secret hole in the wall at Cancun airport, it was like our own private double room. Nobody noticed us. And it took a bit to discover it.
Airport sleeping rules
For a good night of airport sleeping you need the best spot. These are our self made airport sleeping rules for the best night at an airport:
- Try to sleep as dark as possible. You can darken up your spot by wearing an eye mask. A nice side effect is that a dark spot is most of the time also a quiet spot
- Don’t sleep close by an air conditioning
- It can give a secure feeling to team up; different travelers sleeping not too far away from each other provides (a feeling of) extra security
- On the other bit a little bit of privacy doesn’t hurt either, make your choice!
- Pick a spot with a minimum level of noise
When I am about to sleep at an airport I know it is not going to be the best rest in my life. I can not change that. I experienced enough of airport sleeping to know I will be a little bit cranky the day after. That is my personal response.
But I have some influence on reducing my crankiness by reducing the noise around me. It is very simple; cover your eyes and stuff your ears. Try to stay away from the airport intercom as far as possible. You don’t want to lay under a intercom that wakes you up multiple times during your sleep. One time at Auckland International Airport we made that mistake. That was a quick learn. Nowadays we always first locate the announcements fountains before we pick our spot.
Always avoid luggage belts, air conditioning, food corners, announcement speakers and check in counters (unless they are closed for a few hours) to minimise your noise nuisance for a good airport sleeping experience.
Step 4 Make your airport sleeping as safe as possible
You don’t want your airport sleeping turn into a bad experience. You don’t want to wake up with the surprise of missing some personal belongings. If you want to feel safe you can sleep in the range of a surveillance camera. So if something happens to you it is recorded and probably the muggers aren’t that stupid.
We always sleep in our liners. This is the perfect place to keep important stuff close by. I strap on my money belt and my backpack functions as my pillow. Things like an tablet, laptop and other valuables are right under my head or in my liner. You can also put small valuables in your socks or inner pocket. Try to keep valuable stuff as close as possible to your body and somehow attach it. The chance people will rob you is small because of the effort they need to put in and the high risk of waking you up.
Step 5 Dress up for your night at the airport
Sleeping in airports is cold. The air conditioning is on fridge temperature which means you better dress up warm. We always sleep in our warmest clothes and in our liner. Sometimes it was so cold we needed our beanies as well.
The funniest thing we saw at an airport were people who packed themselves as a tasty warmth wrap. The only thing we could see of them were their feet and their beanies. The rest was covered in aluminium foil. I guess they had a nice warm night opposite from us.
I hope you like our tips for sleeping at an airport. This airport sleeping strategy works out great for us. It is up to you to figure out what works for you. We believe that if you follow up a couple of our airport sleeping rules you will have a good start ahead.
Curious as to how we stay fit during our travels? Read our blog about the best travel exercise.
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