I as a budget traveller usually end up booking flights operated by low cost airlines, which usually have if not two then one stop-over somewhere on the way. These stops usually tend to be at night time for several hours. On my way to Morocco I either take a flight that allows me to spend two days somewhere in Europe on the way or then I just take a flight that requires spending 6-8 hours at the airport. I've been airport sleeping who knows how many times and so far it has never been pleasant as I always end up cursing myself for not booking a hotel for the night, but then again thanking myself later for surviving (and saving.)
Sleeping in the airports is a way to keep your travel budget on control. Airports that budget airlines use are usually surprisingly far away from the closest city, which means transportation can cost more than your flights, so if you are like me, you don't want to spend on that on top of the accommodation.
After numerous nights alone at the airports around Europe I have few tips worth sharing so that you are prepared for your next night in the airport.
If possible, get to the airport early, meaning before 9PM because there might be other airport snoozers looking for comfy seats to conquer. Especially if you are departing from airports where many low cost airlines operate, then you need to get yourself ready for the battle.
No, not WIFI, why would you use it while you take your beauty sleep? Connect yourself to your belongings somehow, for example, use your bag as a pillow or put a string that connects you with your suitcase fron your angle or your wrist. You don't want to wake up to find out that you lost your bag which of course, had your passport and tickets inside. Rule number one; Never ever leave your baggage unguarded!Even when you are awake. There are terrible stories about people hiding illegal things inside your bag and then innocent people getting huge problems because of it.
Let's imagine that you found pretty nice connecting double chair from the terminal and you got all comfortable (well in a airport sleeping scale) but then you can't handle the need of toilet and you have to give up your seat. Bummer! Well no worries, I feel pretty comfortable to guarantee that you will find some space from the floor (though I heard that there are few airports that doesn't allow you to take naps on the floors.)
Just to let you know, the floors are usually quite cold. Sleeping on the cold floor might ruin your travel plans as it easily makes you sick so if you have any plans on crashing the airport terminal floors, take a big scarf, jacket or cardigan with you, it also makes sleeping a little more decent.
In my opinion they do help, I always include inflatable neck pillow and eye shades with me to the airplane and the airports. I tend to sleep in most weirdest positions and waking up to crucifying pain in the neck isn't that fun. So why torture yourself! Eye shades are essential in bright places, such as airports, because as we all know they block the light making your brain think it's night or ...sleeping time! - You can even go ''extreme'' and take a planket or blow a swimming gear to sleep on. Anything that makes it more enjoyable.
''I love sleeping in the airports'' said no one ever. If you never tried it, trust me it's not fun. I try to avoid sleeping in the airports as much as I can, but time after time I find myself doing it due to my budget.
- I usually manage to sleep only few hours after struggling for quite some time. If you feel it's impossible to fall asleep, take a book or a diary or plug your headphones on and play some zen music.
In Milan Bergamo airport where I wasn't sleeping but saw some fellow travellers taking a morning nap, I witnessed pretty angry Italian guards waking up not that gently these sleepers while the other guard was blowing whistle. When guards decide it's time to wake up, it is. Unless you want to get in trouble. Therefore, think about the place you plan to camp for the night, if it is somewhere that you think people has to walk in, it's probably not the best place. Choose a place near the walls somewhere near the check-in desks or windows for example.
As we know eating makes us sleepy! So make sure you give your tummy some yummy yummy. But hey, don't drink any fizzy drinks like coca cola or coffee well before your night at the airport, unless you want to have a all nighter. They usually have caffeine or other substances that keep you awake. I usually take some snacks with me from the country I'm departing/arriving to save some money, as airport snacks are ridiculously expensive. Also take in consideration that most if not all restaurants and kiosks close for a night.
Take it as a experience
Believe me or not, I had some interesting moments that I won't forget for a while while airport crashing. It's a great way to bond with someone new in the same situation, just make sure he or she is not sleeping because usually people are not in the chitty chatty mood when awaken up.
I actually made a really nice friend at Helsinki-Vantaa airport last December. We shared one of the most uncomfortable wooden bench together for the night. She was originally from Hong Kong going to Finnish Lapland so she was waiting for the morning train and I was waiting for my morning flight to Amsterdam. We spent good 7 hours together sharing our travel stories and plans and then complaining how terrible the bench actually was. We are still in touch and I hope our paths cross one day in the future! Shout out to Jenny, if you are reading this!
If you have any experience of sleeping in the airports, let me hear your stories!