Has anyone slept in an airport overnight? Tips to make it more comfortable?
I’ll be arriving around midnight and leaving at 9:30 the next morning so it doesn’t make sense to get a hotel.
I thought of a lounge but they seem to close at 10pm. I won’t be bringing a sleeping bag. But will have a small travel pillow.
Yes unfortunately I have been in several situations where I have had to sleep in the airport, train and even a ferry station overnight. For me it’s all about “black out” so I always travel with an eye mask and comfy layers…but I’m also older now since the days I slept overnight in stations…so I did a simple google search and found this cool website that gives loads of suggestions on how to make it more comfortable. I didn’t even know that some airports have cots, they have a list of those airports. They also had this suggestion which is certainly an option if you can make it work.
If you are travelling on a budget and do not want to pay for a room at one of the airport hotels, head over 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. The great part about this is that you can recline on padded seats and there will be no annoying security announcements or rattling luggage carts whipping past your head throughout the night. On the negative side, car horns and screeching tires may jolt you from your slumber. Sure the car rental staff may look into your car wondering if you’ve had a stroke and the bathroom may be an issue depending on the location of the nearest toilet, but hey, you’re saving money here! Very important – remember to check the drop-off hours to ensure a staff member will be there when you “drop-off” the car before your flight the next morning! This is easier at larger airports.
Some airports (I think mostly the smaller ones) actually kick people out…so double check with your airport and plan as best as you can. Some airports also have meditation area/or a church and if they don’t close them for the night those can also be the quietest areas to get a good nights sleep. Safe Travels!
When I was younger, I had a 2-3 nights in layover - once at an airport, once at a train station, can’t remember the other. It is not comfy, so don’t think you’ll be getting a good night’s sleep! But if you can convince yourself you just need some relaxing down-time, not insisting on sleep, it might work fine. Black out mask, and (for me) definitely earplugs and/or noise cancelling headphones. Be very sure to drape your body over your luggage, and keep your little personal bag wrapped around your arm/leg so that someone can’t grab and run. And yes, not all airports stay open during the night - be sure to check this.
As others have mentioned, definitely google if the airport has a ‘soft’ or ‘hard’ close. In the UK near me, Southend Airport closes between midnight and 4 AM and everyone must exit while Stansted stays open if you are already inside but closes to entry from midnight until 2 AM. Technically Stansted says that you are not allowed to stay overnight but plenty of people do in the area near the check in desks if they are already inside.
I once took a late bus to Heathrow while got me there at 330 AM. I had a 6 AM flight from London to Lisbon and figured check in would open at 4 and I’d be able to park myself near the desk and then the gate to wait. The terminal for Europe flights actually wasn’t open but everyone lined up inside the other open terminal in front of the doors to the Europe terminal. Then they didn’t actually open the terminal until 445 AM so it wasn’t great having to stand in a line for that time.
So I’d recommend sleeping in or taking a nap on the day prior to your overnight day in case you have zero chance to sit and doze off. On the plus side I napped on the flight so that one went quick.
I had a few memorably uncomfortable overnights in my young backpacker days. A train that got in early to Avignon…at 4 a.m., I was forced to sit in the empty square until the town came to life. (My booked accommodation for the night was an hour away by bus.) It was also late October so was pretty chilly!
I’m all about the comfort now, so in the case of the OP, I’d book a hotel for those hours.
Sadly, I think many of us have been in the situation. I would research the airport ahead of time, many airports have meditation rooms, chapels or similar quiet spots, where you can sleep for a few hours. I usually take a very small sleeping mat that blows up with air, but fits in my backpack just for some extra comfort. It also might be worth looking at getting a day pass to one of the lounges if they stay open 24 hours. They’re usually less than $50 and typically have good couches etc, a shower and you get food so in the bigger international airports, these can be a good deal if getting a hotel doesn’t make sense plus, I feel like my belongings are a bit safer if I fall asleep in the space. Many of them have lockers as well.
We had this experience last year in Miami airport. We’d originally booked a flight to Miami from Mexico, for a Christmas sit which then got cancelled. The flight was non refundable but we were able to use it anyway as we landed another sit- in Spain- and found a spectacular cheap flight to Malaga from Miami! The layover time in Miami was 10 hours- we arrived 12.30am- and the hotels at last minute started st $250!! So we resigned ourselves to sleeping in the terminal and found a quiet corner. We only had a yoga mat and a few sarongs to lie on and no warm clothing, so wore multiple layers & used our bags for pillows. It was a horror night!! Flashing lights & noisy on and off. The flight to Malaga was a multi stop marathon!- first stop Detroit - 2 hour delay- . Therefore when we got to Paris we had missed the connection to Malaga! After going from pillar to post we got rerouted via Geneva to Malaga but ofcourse all the luggage got left behind in Paris! So we arrived in Malaga with only the clothes we were wearing & small hand luggage! What a nightmare! To add insult to injury Air France took one whole year to cough up when we claimed our expenses!! An experience we hope never to repeat - But we survived it at nearly 60! Just one of those more colourful life experiences!
The guide that @Edith has attached is brilliant. We’ve been through 7 of the top Europe ones in the last few months & all were good. Which airport is it? Copenhagen was particularly impressive with large, soft trampoline like things you could stretch out and sleep on. If it’s Changi then it will be a pleasure. Definitely ear plugs, a mask, a small pillow and a sarong/scarf to put over you. A roll mat if you have room. Fingers crossed it’s somewhere good.