It happens eventually to anyone who travels regularly. Maybe it’s a planned occurrence during an awkwardly timed connection, or it’s your strategy to save money. Or maybe it’s just a last-minute bummer thanks to bad weather.
The outcome is the same: You’re stuck trying to sleep in an airport, a place not exactly known for its relaxing vibes.
Unless you’re a masochist, it’s never fun. But there are ways to make it easier. Here are 10 tips for sleeping in an airport.
1. Gear up.
Before you leave home, tuck a wrap, eye mask and earplugs into your carry-on, in a pocket that’s easy to get into. You should have these handy anyway for your flight.
2. Scout out your spot.
The exhaustive airport reviews on SleepingInAirports.net explain which corner of which terminal has the best, most comfortable and safest benches for sleeping. If you can’t get online — or your airport isn’t covered — follow the backpackers. They’ve probably done this before.
3. Don’t rule out the lounge.
While most lounges keep disappointingly daytime hours, some — especially in 24-hour airports like Dubai, Singapore and Delhi — stay open ’round the clock. You won’t necessarily get a bed, but at least you’ll get quiet and a comfortable recliner. And you don’t always need high-roller status: Many lounges sell day passes.
4. Ask about proper sleep options.
Some of the better-serviced international airports have sleep pods, cabins and even suites that can be rented by the hour. Barring that, ask the friendliest, happiest-looking airport worker for directions to the most comfortable armchairs.
5. Go with god.
An increasing number of airports have yoga and meditation rooms, complete with mats (though they’re not necessarily open overnight). Longtime traveler Bruce Northam, who writes the American Detour blog, points out that the prayer rooms can be decent places to sleep — just be respectful.
6. Seek out security.
Especially if you’re traveling solo, sleep near other people. And look for an area with some security presence, whether it’s night guards, cleaning crews or even just cameras. Ask an airport employee to suggest a safe place, and consider giving them a nice tip in exchange for keeping an eye on your and your stuff.
7. Watch out for traffic.
If the first flight of the day is going to be out of gate two, you don’t want to be near gate two.
8. Lighten your load.
Some airports have storage lockers, where you can stash everything but the bare essential. If not, be sure to stuck your bag under your legs or use it as a pillow.
9. Set an alarm.
It may be optimistic to imagine that you’ll sleep too much in an uncomfortable airport, but don’t take any chances. By not worrying about a missed flight, tou’ll sleep better (if you can sleep at all).
10. Behave yourself.
As Sleeping in Airports points out, airport officials don’t really approve of their facilities being used as hotels. Even if it’s part of your travel plan, don’t get too comfortable or cocky. And, of course, be chill. Funny airport-overnight videos may go viral, but security may not be amused.