Have you ever thought, ‘hey I want to sleep in the airport tonight!’ Yeah no, you probably haven’t wanted to but maybe you’ve needed to, or need to in the future. I certainly have, for both convenience and budget sake. But I’ve got some tips and tricks that will make the experience a tad bit better if you too find yourself in a situation where you have to sleep in an airport.
Last year when I was living in Northern France and spending my weekends globe trotting to as many countries as I could, a way to save some serious money was to sleep in the airport the night before my morning flight left. Let’s just say that I got really good at it by the end. And this summer when I’m backpacking Europe again I’ll be spending an additional two nights sleeping in an airport (Brussels Charleroi I’m coming for you for like the 100th time).
And since I’ve been asked this before. No as a solo female traveler I’ve never felt uncomfortable sleeping at an airport. Just stay alert like you normally would and if you want sleep near another person/group who is spending the night.
First things first if you’re contemplating sleeping in an airport check out Sleeping in Airports. All you have to do is Google “Sleeping in (whatever airport)” and their website will come up with an Overview, What to Expect, Good to Know and Where to Sleep. All their content is created by people like you who have actually slept in the airport. Personally, as a newbie sleeping in airports what I learned from their website was invaluable.
So once you check out their website to get all the information you can the next thing to do is make a game plan.
- What time is you flight?
- What time will you be arriving at the airport?
- Will security be there when you arrive?
- Can you go into the secure part of the airport?
Those are just some of the questions you’ll have to think about. Though you might not find out the answers until you actually get to the airport and that specific terminal, as security varies depending on when flights are departing.
I always got there the night before my next morning flight, usually sometime around 9pm so security was normally still there for any last minute stragglers for the last flight out. Like at Paris CDG Airport the Terminal used by EasyJet, their security leaves around 9:30 because the last flight out of there was around 10pm. BUT at Brussels Charleroi Airport they don’t let you sleep in the secure section of the airport so it doesn’t matter what time you get there at. What I’m saying is that it really just depends on the airport and the terminal and if in doubt you can always ask an airport worker if you’re allowed to sleep there.
When you get to whatever part of the airport where you’ll be sleeping (though the secure section is better, cause of security, if that is an option) take a look around.
- Are there other people there that look like they’ll be spending the night/sleeping already?
- Are there chairs?
- Or better yet couches?
- Where are the bathrooms?
In Paris CDG they have nice couches to sleep on, as did Brussels Zaventem, but at Brussels Charleroi your only option is the floor. I also always sleep semi-close to where the bathrooms are in case I have to go in the middle of the night.
Now some other things to think about:
Airports get very cold at night, even if it’s the summer, and especially if you’re sleeping on the floor. I always had a thin blanket in my bag that I could put underneath and around me to keep me warm. I can’t sleep when I’m cold. So having a scarf or a jacket or wearing long pants/shirts, whatever you have, will help in your efforts to sleep.
The lights are also always on at night in airports. I had a hat with me that I pulled down over my eyes to block out some of the light. It also helped with the cold.
And airports can be very noisy at night as well. I’ve never used headphones to block out the noise but I know people who have.
Something else I always did was sleep with my head on my bag with the part that opens directly under my head. That way if anybody did want to try to steal something they’d have to move my head, waking me up to do so.
Another good thing to have is some melatonin. It will help you fall asleep, though maybe not stay asleep because of the cold, lights or noise. But really any sleep you can get on the floor of an airport is good sleep.
If you get 3-4 hours of sleep you’re doing good. At Charleroi they come around waking everybody up, because a lot of people sleep overnight there, at 3:45am. But when I slept at Zaventem I slept nearly six hours because I was on a couch and there was no one waking me up. Remember you can also sleep on your flight to get a few more zzz’s.
And one thing I always like to do the next morning when I wake up is to wash my face, brush my teeth and change into some other clothes. That way I don’t feel as if I’ve spent the night sleeping on an airport’s floor.
I hope these tips and tricks helped! And if you ever find yourself sleeping on the floor of an airport just think of me.