First of all check if the airport is not closed for the night as some, especially smaller ones, do that. I know that for example Eindhoven airport does that and there’s no other way but finding a different solution. Believe me, you don’t want to find yourself outside the closed airport in the middle of the night.
If the airport is indeed open then the very first thing I do when I know I have a night to spend there is checking the really useful website about sleeping at the airports. It covers probably every airport in the world and besides people’s reviews (with some best spots where to sleep etc) it also has useful informations, such as if the wifi is available and if it’s for free.
If the return flight is at ridiculously early hour (and I had lots of 4am flights lately…) before leaving the airport after arriving I look around to find some good spots I might need later on. This way I can save the precious time and sleep without changing uncomfortable spots too many times. It’s good if the place to sleep is next to the electricity outlets – you can charge batteries for your camera or mobile phone in the meantime.
Very often airports have cafes or restaurants in the public area before the security check that close for the night. You might get a nice and comfortable chair or sofa if you’re lucky. That’s how I slept in Berlin last night or in Starbucks in Liverpool airport. And these were one of the best of my airport sleeps! If there’s no such place check if there’re around any seats without the armrests – you can lie down on these seats comfortably too.
Be sure that the spot you’ve found is not under the air condition output – I guarantee you will get hardly any sleep there as it’ll be simply too cold. I’ve notticed the best places to get some sleep are under some kind of stairs or behind vending machines – not only it’s quiter, darker and warmer but it also gives you some kind of privacy.
If you have a chance take the small sleeping bag with you – it can make the whole airport sleeping experience so much better. You simply lie on the floor in some corner and don’t care about anything and anyone. That’s how I slept almost in the middle of the Doha airport and I was surprised to see that it’s really busy when I woke up at 8 am ;) Other things that might help you with sleeping are: some clothes with the hood (to protect you from the light and noise), a scarf (to make a small pillow from it), earplugs (the annoying security announcments can go every hour or even more often).
And remember that on busy airports best spots are taken very quickly so arrive to the airport as early as you can to save one for yourself!
Airports really make a nice alternative to expensive hotels. They’re also very safe as there’s always the security or airport workers around as well as other travellers waiting for their flights, I’ve never seen any random people wandering there in the night. Just don’t think you may look stupid or people may look strangely at you – first of all – you don’t know these people so who cares, and second – you’re not the first person in the history sleeping at the airport!
So far during my travels I spent the night at following airports: London Stansted, London Luton, Glasgow Prestwick, Liverpool, Berlin Schoenfeld, Doha, Beijing, Tbilisi, Larnaca, Yerevan. And it really wasn’t all that bad!
Have you ever stayed overnight at the airport? Do you have any tips?
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