When I was 20 years old, I spent the night in Paris’ Orly International Airport. I had a flight out to Athens, Greece at six in the morning the next day, and I didn’t trust myself to wake up in the middle of the night and make it to the airport on time.
So, I packed my bags, met up with my travel buddy, and arrived at the airport at ten o’clock the night before. We knew we wouldn’t miss our flight—which was a major stress reliever—but now we had to get through the night.
Folks, there are a whole bunch of reasons why you might find yourself in an airport overnight. You might be planning ahead for a sadistically early flight, like I was, or you might be trapped during a layover or delay. Either way, you’re going to need to get some sleep.
So, here are some awesome nap hacks to get you through this—let’s admit it—hellish experience. It’s not going to be fun. OR IS IT?
1.) Find a good spot.
We have to state the obvious—find a good napping nook. First stop, check out the seats. Is there a long row of empty benches you can spread out on? A big, smushy chair you can curl up in? Jump on that.
If the airport you’re in only has those awful, plastic, bucket seats—Geneva is notorious for these—check out the lounge. Typically reserved for the fancier folks, budget travelers can get in on this action too. You may be able to buy a single day pass for as little as $20, and we guarantee you’ll have some cushy furniture to snuggle on.
If you don’t have access to the lounge, ask an airport official if they have cots available for overnight sleepers. Some do! Ask and you may receive.
2.) Get comfy—but maintain contact with ALL of your belongings.
This one’s especially important if you’re traveling alone. Snuggle into that big chair you found, but keep your luggage nearby. You don’t want to wake up to find your iPod’s been stolen. Or worse, wake up to the TSA inspecting your abandoned, suspicious suitcase.
If you have a bag, use it as a pillow, or wrap the straps around your arms or legs. If you’ve got something clunkier, like a suitcase, lay it under your feet with the zippers face-down against the floor.
3.) Keep track of the time.
It would really defeat the purpose of sleeping in the airport if you—ya know—overslept and missed that flight. So! Make sure you set an alarm on your phone or iPod to wake you up when it’s time. Or, for a more fun and social alarm system, take a pad of Post-It notes, write, “Wake me up at…” whatever time you need to get up, and stick a whole bunch of them all over your body and luggage.
People will wake. You. Up. This legitimately works. And maybe you’ll make some new friends!
4.) Embrace the beauty of airport sleeping.
Ok, so maybe getting stuck in an airport overnight is pretty lame. But! Embrace your inner nomad. You don’t need fancy sheets and posh hotel rooms—you just need yourself and your bag, venturing out into the great unknown.
And, if all else fails, you’re totally miserable, and can’t possible catch any shut-eye while trying to huddle in a plastic bucket seat (sorry, Geneva), you can always make a viral video like this guy did.
What airport nap hacks work for you? Blow it up in the comments!