So, You Have to Spend the Night in an Airport

The fantasy of spending a night away from home while traveling typically includes things like plush bedding, spa access, a balcony overlooking a sandy beach and room service. However, it doesn’t always look like that. We sometimes get stuck in airports overnight. Factors like inclement weather, natural disasters and mechanical issues can quickly turn an airport terminal into a makeshift hotel room. Of course, some people actually plan to spend the night in an airport ahead of time when booking a layover. Your first instinct might be to become grumpy if you find yourself stuck in an airport for the night. However, there are certain tips and tricks that can actually make your overnight airport experience more tolerable. Check out some things to keep in mind if you’re considering the idea of living like Tom Hanks in “The Terminal” during your next trip.

Ask About Cots

You may not have to spend a night slumped over in a chair inside an airport terminal. Most travelers are unaware of the fact that many airports actually provide cots to travelers. The only catch is that you typically have to ask for them. The airport you’re visiting may also be able to provide you with things like pillows, blankets and coupons for restaurants within the airport. You may have a hard time getting these perks if you’ve intentionally booked a layover. However, airport representatives are typically pretty generous with extras when travelers are stuck due to weather or mechanical issues.

Plan a Whirlwind Sightseeing Adventure

There is the potential to see a city after dark if you’re going to be stuck somewhere overnight. This can be a good idea if you’ll have a long flight the next morning that will provide plenty of time to catch up on sleep. In fact, you’re practically throwing away an opportunity to have the adventure of a lifetime if you’ll be stuck through the night in an airport in a spot like Paris, Las Vegas, Munich, Vancouver or Seoul. The big thing to remember is that you’ll need to make sure you’ll have plenty of time to catch up on sleep during the next leg of your journey if you do decide to stay up all night.

Pack theĀ Essentials

The right gear and accessories can really help to make your overnight airport experience a little more palatable. In fact, you sort of need to pack and plan for your long layover the same way you would pack and plan for an actual flight. Here’s a quick checklist of must-have essentials if you’ll be roughing it in an airport overnight:

  • Earplugs.

  • Eyeshades or sunglasses.

  • Bottled water or refillable water bottle.

  • Laptop or tablet.

  • Chargers for all of your devices.

  • Toilet paper.

  • Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.

  • Floss, toothpaste and a toothbrush.

You should also choose your airport outfit carefully. The temperature inside an airport can change depending on things like crowds and each terminal’s heating and cooling systems. Layering is wise. You should also consider wearing a hat, scarf and gloves inside to keep warm when your body temperature drops in your sleep.

Choose a Safe Area

You should never put yourself in a vulnerable position when you spend the night in an airport. In fact, you might want to consider finding a spot located within view of a security camera if you’re planning to fall asleep. You may feel tempted to find a quiet corner to stay in if you’re looking for some peace and quiet. However, you’re really going to want to go against your instinct to seek solitude in favor of staying near the crowds. It is simply safer to be around people if you’ll be falling asleep.

Grab a Cheap Hotel Room

Sometimes you have to know your own limits. Sleeping in an airport terminal isn’t going to work for everyone. In fact, you may find that the lack of sleep and soreness from trying to rest in an uncomfortable position are simply too problematic. The good news is that most airports have hotels that are either connected or close by. Your airline may be willing to reimburse you for hotel costs if your flight was delayed or canceled due to mechanical issues. However, you may need to simply do some last-minute hunting for cheap rooms or see what your rewards points can do for you when it’s time to book a room at an airport hotel.

Try to Find a 24-Hour Lounge

The truth is that this is a hard one to pull off. Most airport lounges close for the night. However, it is definitely worth checking out the list of lounges in whatever airport you’ll be staying at for the night to see if anything is open around the clock. Paying a one-time fee for lounge access will be a lot cheaper than booking a hotel room. This option would have been impossible just a few years ago unless you had some type of elite-level membership in a loyalty program. The good news is that many lounges now offer the option to simply pay for one-time access.

Keep Your Ticket and Boarding Information on Hand

You should be prepared to prove that you have a flight booked if you’ll be getting cozy in an airport overnight. There’s a chance that security officers may ask for proof that you’re at the airport for a legitimate reason. Most airports don’t have an issue with overnight sleepers if they will be boarding flights in the morning. However, you must accept the fact that you could be asked to leave for security reasons at any point.

The Big Takeaway

The big takeaway is that you’ll need to take steps to be comfortable, safe and respectful during an overnight stay in an airport. Never put yourself in a dangerous position or ignore the rules of an airport when staying through the night. In addition, you’ll need to be comfortable with the idea that your plans may need to change in an instant if you’re asked to leave a specific area or get out of the airport. Of course, there’s a good chance that you’ll leave with a crick in your neck and a great story to tell the grandchildren someday if you do spend the night in an airport!

Source: frugal travel guy

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