Tips for Staying Overnight at an Airport

Tips for Staying Overnight at an Airport 

If you’ve traveled enough, you’re bound to have a layover one night at an airport where you’re stuck for 5, 6, 12, or even 18 hours (yikes!). Here are some tips for staying overnight at an airport.

My best tip is first, to get lounge access.If you find yourself ever having a long layover, having access to an airline lounge will make an enormous difference. It’s a lot simpler than you think with just a bit of research and planning.

How do you get access to a lounge? Here are the most common methods:

  • If you fly business class, your business class ticket will automatically give you access to a lounge.
  • Have a Priority pass membership. Priority pass comes with certain credit cards (The AMEX Platinum card or the VISA Sapphire Reserve card). You’ll have access to over 1,000 lounges around the world.
  • If you have airline status from flying a lot, you’ll have access to their alliance lounge (e.g. For American Airlines status, you get access to One World Alliance lounges, For United Status, you get access to Star Alliance lounges, etc).
  • If you don’t have any of the above, you can also purchase lounge passes usually at most lounges anywhere from $30-50.

I will preface this with knowing that a lot of airline lounges do close at a certain time. Some lounges do open 24 hours. The best way to find out is to use an app called Lounge Buddy. Or check online the airport you will be staying at.

Tip #1: How to go out and visit the City

If your layover is at minimum 5 hours, I would say it is worthwhile to look into going out and visiting the city. Yes, you will have to go out and come back in security. Yes, it is absolutely risky if you get lost or don’t get back in time. But often, it is worth the risk to see a City and will pass time very easily.

First, check the airport if they have baggage drop off (a lot of airports will keep your luggage for a small fee). This will allow you to be a lot more mobile so you can walk around as you wish without lugging luggage around.

Second, do some due diligence in researching transportation options. Can you take a train? Are there buses? Can you call for a ride share (Lyft or Uber?). This will be one of your heavier expenses for getting out so you want to make sure you know how much you’ll be paying before you leave the airport.

Third, have an idea of what you want to do or see once you’re in the City. Spontaneity is great but having a plan and allowing room for spontaneity is better. At least know the area where you want to spend your time in or some of the major attractions you want to see.

Last, but certainly not least, ALWAYS have a return plan and be conservative with it. How will you get back to the airport? Remember to always give yourself at least an extra hour to account for unexpected things to happen (traffic, missed rides, getting lost). On top of that , you’ll need time to check back into the airport (usually at least 1 hour).

Tip #2: How to Sleep in the Airport

If the time is too late or you don’t want to leave the airport, sleeping in airports is usually something a lot of travelers will have to do. It will save you money from booking a hotel at the airport. but I would note that sometimes it is worth checking prices of nearby hotels. Particularly if you’re traveling in Asia, hotels may not be as expensive as you think.

If you have lounge access, check the lounge to see if there are any time restrictions first. Sometimes lounges will have napping rooms which will make it a lot easier to get some shut-eye. But if not, here are some ways I have gotten sleep inside a lounge.

If there is a couch space, couches are actually expected to be used for sleeping travelers. It’s not uncommon so slip off your shoes and ask for a blanket even to get rest on their couch!

If there are no couch spaces, find a workspace that ideally is enclosed. Make yourself a pillow with your backpack or just lay your head on the desk. If you’re tired, you’ll be surprised how easily it is to get some rest that way.

If all else fails, recline back onto a comfortable seat and close your eyes. Even if you can’t fall asleep, just relaxing and closing your eyes will work wonders to give you much needed rest.

Tip #3: How to Not Go Hungry at the Airport

Honestly, this is the easiest tip and not anything revolutionary. But the fact that you’re in a lounge usually means you have access to their buffet of food and refreshments. The only thing to note is their food may be put up at a certain time so be sure to stock up on dried food if you’re planning to stay overnight.

Don’t forget to grab a couple drinks to keep with you so you don’t have to pay $5 for a soda or juice out at the airport.

Tip #4: How to Exercise at an Airport

Sometimes getting some exercise might just be the best idea if you’re stick overnight at an airport. Ask the lounge desk if they can hold your luggage (most lounges will at least have an area for luggage to be kept with security cameras). Just be sure not to leave any super important valuables (passport, money, IDs). Once you have most of your heavy luggage at the lounge, you’re free to walk laps around the airport!

From personal experience, this is one of the most exciting things to do at an airport – walking around freely exploring while getting some exercise and getting those legs going!

Have you ever had to stay overnight at an airport? Share your tips with us!

If you enjoyed this post, you may also find the below articles useful:

How to Maximize Travel and Earn Credit Card Points

5 Best Things to Do at an Airline Lounge

101 Travel Hacks & Ways to Save Money and Travel Well, for Less

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How to Get 500,000 Miles in About 1 Year

At the beginning of the year, I had a little over 500,000 miles. But it was through a couple years of my company’s business expenses (amounting to over half a million dollars) that got us to that amount. We primarily used just two cards – the Chase Business Preferred Visa and the AMEX Business Gold. Those miles had a cash valuation of over $7,000 but I chose to use it a lot more effectively through travel and airline redemption. The two biggest redemption purchases I used it for was a trip around the world (all on business class flights) that would’ve cost about $16,000 and three round trip international tickets for my family that would have cost about $4,000. Those two purchases amounted to about 350,000 miles. 

Half way through the year, I’m close to having around 400,000 miles again. Here is how I got half a million miles a lot quicker and for a lot cheaper…

I will preface this with saying you need pretty good credit in order to get a lot of miles. If not, you may still be able to get a significant amount of miles but it may not amount to the same amount someone with excellent credit can get.

I will also preface this with a caution to make sure you’re always able to pay back debt – especially if it’s on credit. You don’t want to be stuck paying high APR’s nor risk ruining your credit score. If paying off credit cards is difficult, I would suggest you not read on and instead use all cash to avoid some of the pitfalls of credit cards.

Lastly, there are limits to how many credit cards you can open – how credit card companies determine your eligibility is a complex factoring of your total available credit vs used credit and credit history. In a nutshell, they want to know what’s the risk of you paying off your debt. In general, don’t open too many cards all together; I’ve opened one every 3 months healthily.

That being said, here is how to get a lot of miles for cheap and relatively quickly.

#1 Plan Your Spending

The key to getting miles is not just accumulating through regular spending but rather through bonuses.

Credit cards constantly offer high bonuses up to 70,000 to even 100,000 points with a minimum spending requirement usually within 3 months.

The requirement is not unreasonable though. For example, the most common minimum is $3000 in 3 months which is only about $1000 per month. If you just pay regular bills like electricity, internet, phone, insurance, and food you’ll probably easily go over that amount each month.

Obviously, this requires opening several credit cards throughout the year. But contrary to some myths, opening multiple credit cards really have very little effect on your credit score. Having had several credit cards, my credit is still excellent.

Once you have a pretty good understanding of the available cards out there, you want to plan which bonuses to get and make sure you get that bonus. 2-3 weeks before you anticipate reaching the $3,000 mark, go ahead and apply for another card with a similar bonus. As soon as you get the bonus, stop using the card and start using your new card.

Now you’re probably asking about the annual credit card fees. A lot of cards waive the first year’s annual fee so you won’t get dinged if you cancel it before the year ends! But even if the card does have a fee, the bonus is normally significantly more valuable than the annual fee. For example, a 50,000 chase points bonus is equivalent has a valuation of $625 but if you transfer it and use it strategically you can stretch those points even more! That’s way more than a typical $95 annual fee.

At the end of the year, it’s also important to evaluate which cards you want to keep.

So where do you start?

Here is one way I would approach it:

In general, Chase miles and AMEX miles have the most flexibility in terms of what you can spend the miles on. You can transfer to airlines if you want to save on flights. You can transfer to hotels if you want to use the miles to book hotel nights. You can also use miles for car rentals.

Generally, product or gift items have the worst transfer value so you want to avoid using miles to pay for product. But if you needed the cash, of course you can also use those miles to get cash back. 

That being said, I would start with the Chase Card. The Chase Sapphire and Reserve card will get you over 100,000 points alone. These points can be transferred to several airline partners including Southwest, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, United, and more. It would be pretty easy to get the bonuses if you plan your spending in 6 months or less.

If you have a business, you can also qualify for the Chase Business Preferred Card which will get you 80,000 points alone.

Once I’ve exhausted those three Chase Cards, I would move onto AMEX Gold or Platinum Cards that are easily over 100,000 points as well.

AMEX points are also very valuable and can be transferred to a number of airline partners.

If you were to get all three Chase Cards (Sapphire, Reserve, & Business Preferred) and both AMEX Cards (Gold & Platinum), the bonus points alone would be over 300,000 (and that’s not counting the points you get from spending and the bonus point categories you get with each card).

After the Chase & AMEX cards, there are literally dozens of other Cards you can get with awesome bonus mileage (e.g. Chase United Explorer, AMEX Starwood, AAdvantage Mastercard, Hilton Honors, etc.). 

Some cards are more limited in what the bonus miles can be used for. But you’ll begin to learn what perks you get with each bonus and how to maximize the value you get from it.

I don’t consider myself a high spender (I average less than $2,000 a month) but in less than a year, I’ve obtained the following bonuses:

Chase Ink Business Preferred – 80,000
Chase Reserve – 100,000
Chase United Explorer – 70,000
AMEX Starwood – 40,000
AAdvantage Mastercard – 60,000

With the miles I get from spending and bonus categories, I’ll easily hit 250,000 miles this year. If you want to know what you can do with 250,000 miles, you can visit the article I wrote on 5 awesome ways to use 250,000 miles here.

For a list of Credit Cards and its bonus offerings, you can visit – http://milecards.com/1031/top-bonus-mile-offers-with-credit-cards/

(Note* a lot of these websites do get commission for sign-ups through their links. That said, although it’s a good resource, I would still do due diligence to search around for the best bonus offering).

What are some ways you have racked up a lot of miles? Share with us below!

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5 Awesome Ways to Redeem Credit Card Points for Travel

5 Awesome Ways to Redeem Credit Card Points for Travel

This is the second series in my post about Credit Card points. This post will show you creative and awesome ways to redeem credit card points.

1. Travel around the World on Business Class

This past January, I used 240,000 AMEX miles transferred to Kris Miles to go on a once-in-a-lifetime trip around the world to over 10 countries all on business class seats. Not only did I experience some of the finest seats and experience in the air, I also got to work & relax in incredible lounges, see all the countries I’ve always wanted to visit, and experience something I would have never had an opportunity to do.

The flights alone would have set me back over $16,000 had I paid in cash. You can read more about my trip here.

It was quite an experience and an awesome way to redeem credit card points!

2. Fly your Family Round trip back to Asia

Earlier this year, I spent 210,000 Chase Credit Card points transferred to United to book three round trip tickets for my family to go back to Asia to visit family. Though the flights weren’t business class seats, they were still on my family’s preferred airline – Eva Air. The tickets would have set my family back over $4,000 had they spent cash.

It’s incredibly rewarding to redeem credit card points for other people – especially when it’s for loved ones.

3: Stay in Excellent Hotels for Free!

Just a few weeks ago, my family and I were able to travel cheap to San Antonio where I used my Starwood Points to book a few nights stay in the Four Points Sheraton hotel. The accommodations were very pleasant with a pool, fitness gym, and a beautiful room for our short vacation/work trip. After two free nights, I still have enough points for 3-10 nights in another hotel, depending on how nice the hotel is we decide to book next!

4: Book a Flight for Two Adults + 1 Infant from U.K. back home

I recently had the opportunity to redeem credit card points to book 2.5 (2 adults, 1 infant) round trip flights from London to DFW on British Airways for family. It was about 95,000 miles + a little over $1,000 in fees. It’s been a couple years since they’ve been back to Dallas so it was a joy to do so.

The flights would have cost about $4500 in cash so it was a great value for the mileage used. The total cost even with the mileage was a little more than it could have been namely because of the infant flying.

Because of the baby, I had to make sure the flights were direct and ideally on a better airlines for infants.

For solo travelers or travelers without babies, I’m sure the RT ticket could have been a lot cheaper.

5. Limitless Options

If you haven’t already noticed, I find the most joy in being able to use mileage to help family and friends travel. Especially when it saves them money and gives them the best possible travel experience that I know I was able to book. But really, the beauty of having a lot of miles is the world opens up to you.

Suddenly, you’re able to go anywhere, live anywhere, see and experience almost anything your heart desires traveling on the best airlines, living in the best hotels, and doing all of it without having to dig into your cash.

From personal experience, this is one of the most exciting things to do at an airport – walking around freely exploring while getting some exercise and getting those legs going!

Have you ever had to stay overnight at an airport? Share your tips with us!

 

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5 Costly Travel Mistakes You Want to Avoid

Having traveled extensively across the U.S. and around the world, I’ve compiled 5 of the most common travel mistakes you want to avoid.

Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way but I hope through my mistakes, you won’t have to go through the same headaches I went through.

1. Not Planning Enough

There is lots of room for spontaneity when traveling and you really shouldn’t have every single detail squared away but unfortunately there are also some consequences for not planning enough.

The most critical consequences usually comes from lack of planning in what essentials to bring, how to get to places, and not taking into account what to expect at the destination you are headed to (whether it be culture, weather, or safety hazards).

2. Overpacking

Not only will it cost you money sometimes on oversize pricing, but the bigger cost (in my opinion) is having your options weighed down. Remember, the more you have with you, the more you are responsible of and need to carry with you.

I would recommend you consider what you absolutely cannot go without and then identify anything in your luggage you can simply purchase if you really needed it on the road. I’ve written a post on what I consider essential when traveling here (link to 5 Things You Absolutely Need When Traveling).

If possible, have a piece of luggage that is heavier and can carry the bulk of your belongings but one that you are ok with losing (I usually store clothes, shoes, toiletries in this bulk bag).

And then have a separate smaller bag (usually a backpack) where you can comfortably take with you 1-2 backup clothing and everything else that you can’t afford to lose (passports, credit cards, electronics).

Why do this? So you can be mobile as much as possible. So you can explore, walk, go to places without worrying about your other set of luggage.

And that is an invaluable blessing to have – to be able to go wherever you want, explore whatever you want with everything you need right with you.

3. Getting Scammed

So many destinations these days are getting flooded with tourists and locals are eager to prey on unsuspecting victims. This can happen in the form of thieves on the street, cab drivers, food and vendor stands, and more. We’ve seen so many forms of scams and the sad reality is scammers are getting more and more creative and deceiving.

The best way to avoid scams in general is to always agree on a price before rendering service or product. This will at least allow you to know what you are paying, even if it is above market value. The other tip is just to always be alert and on guard. The worst mistake is to be unsuspecting and ignorant of the fact that the reality is there are people everywhere wanting to prey on tourists.

4. Getting lost

It will inevitably happen to all of us. At some point you will get lost and will need to pay for a cab to get back or a hotel to stay overnight.

The key is not to panic but to take a few minutes to come up with a new plan. When you act hastily, the consequences will be worse and you may find yourselves in a deeper hole than you started with. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – more often than not, locals and people are willing to help. Just be weary of asking cab drivers to assist your situation as in many places they are not afraid to scam unknowing tourists.

5. Overplanning

Yes, there is the other side and extreme of not planning enough – over planning. This is not so much a loss financially but more so purposefully. Don’t forget to live in the moment, allow some room for spontaneity, and embrace where you are traveling. Sometimes we get so caught up in schedules and details, we lose out on one of the greatest joys in traveling – just simply being able to immerse yourself in a totally different place and culture and take all that in.

 

 

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My Top 6 Travel Hacks

For over half a decade, I traveled around the U.S. putting on events 3-4 times per month. Half of those years I worked for a startup that gave me a limited budget. The other half I operated under my own startup and gave myself a limited budget. Here are some of the lessons I learned in traveling that might save you from breaking

1. Harmonize the Big 3 Expenses

The 3 biggest expenses in travel will almost always be – flights, accommodations, and transportation. Unfortunately, you won’t always find great deals on all 3 but if you’re able to find good options and harmonize all three, you’ll find travel really doesn’t need to be that expensive.

Flights:

Getting cheap flights is all about knowing where to look and knowledge of different airlines and airports. It’s also helpful if you’re flexible with dates. I usually start out my search using flights.google.com. Google has an awesome flight aggregator that searches most of the major airlines and the pricing on any given date. Sometimes you may find some really cheap deals on Spirit, Frontier, or United flights but keep in mind the low budget airlines will have a lot of hidden fees – namely baggage fees that can make the flights as expensive or even more expensive than some of its competitors.

As a general rule of thumb, I would say if you need to check-in baggage, it is usually easiest just to stay away from low budget airlines like Spirit or Frontier.

Be sure to also checkout Southwest.com for their rates as flights can sometimes be pretty cheap on Southwest. Southwest also includes two check in luggages and have one of the more outstanding services in the airline business.

Also, always look for nearby airports (e,g. I have saved over $100 on flight to Oakland Airport instead of San Francisco airport and the drive to the different airports is only about an hour away).

Once you’ve found some great flight deals, don’t book the flight just yet. You want to make sure you can find reasonable accommodations for your travel dates. I have found amazing flight deals before and booked only to find out moments later the cheapest accommodations I could find were hundreds of dollars per night. It’s always safer to have a complete plan before booking all 3 of the major expenses.

Accommodations: 

For accommodations, I actually recommend finding a decent airbnb on (www.airbnb.com). These days it is not only cheaper than hotels, but you also always get a more local experience. We have had a lot of incredibly awesome hosts and of course airbnb has reviews that you can do your research on prior to booking. The only real advantage we have found from hotels is daily house cleaning but if you’re able to keep relatively clean a few days yourself, it is worth more to clean up after yourself than to pay much more for cleaning service.

If you absolutely need a hotel or just want a more luxurious experience, I would recommend priceline.com and try their express deals program or their bid program to get great rates at discounted pricing. Just note those programs are non-refundable.

Transportation: 

Lastly, consider transportation and how you’ll get around your destination. Will there be public transport to take you wherever you need to go? Or will you need to rent a car? More often, you will probably need to rent a car. If you have a Costco card, Costco has a great car rental program that is often cheaper than priceline or the car rental site itself. I would recommend checking both and comparing prices.

Once you know how much you will be spending for the biggest 3 expenses and you are satisfied with it, then you can go ahead and book. Often, the best harmony in all 3 will lead you to not only saving money but having the best possible experience wherever you go.

2. Learn from Others’ Experiences

The easiest way to have an idea of what to expect at your destination is to learn from other travelers experiences by reading tips and blogs. This doesn’t take as much time as you may think and it has proven to be invaluable every place I go. The 2 tools I mainly use are TripAdvisor.comand wikitravel.org.

If you enjoy visuals, YouTube also has plenty of resources with vloggers and travelers who have filmed their experiences at virtually any major destination you can think of. Watching travel videos of destinations has actually been as helpful as some of the other resources on TripAdvisor or WikiTravel.

Often, not only will you have a much better idea of what to expect at your travel destination, travelers also are eager to give tips that will help future travelers navigate through the place better.

3. If at all possible, only bring a carry-on (and backpack)

There are various reasons why – you won’t have to worry about lost luggage, you won’t have to wait for checked baggage. But the biggest reason why you want to travel with just a carry-on is – so you can check-in early. In fact, you can check in 24 hours before your departure.

Why is this so important? Well, if you’re flying business class- you’ll have early access to the lounges (often, multiple lounges under the partnering alliance program).

This is really a lifesaver; particularly if there are times when you just want to work/relax at the lounge for a longer period of time. Lounges are like an oasis in the hectic and tiring world of travel. You get access to premium food, showers, comfortable seating areas, wifi, and even sleeping areas sometimes.

If you have checked luggage, you will have to wait outside the gate until 3 hours before department (when they start checking in people) and will NOT have this luxury.

Believe me when I say, this is a very overlooked luxury you will be thankful you have. Particularly when there are days you don’t want to rush to the airport or even book a hotel; you can stay in the lounge ALL day, work, relax, eat for FREE, shower, rest, and enjoy the features of a lounge when you need it for as long as you need it.

Lastly, in your carry-on: keep things you can afford to lose (clothing, toiletries, extra shoes). In your backpack, keep your valuables + 1-2 pairs of clothing. Why? So you can drop off your carry-on at airport overnight storages, your accommodations, or wherever you need to so you can be more mobile.

And why do you want to be more mobile? So you can move around and embrace more of the destination and culture without having to lug big suitcases around :).

4. Bring an ATM card instead of cash

Everyone has their own preferences in either using credit card, debit card, or cash. But when you travel (particularly abroad) you will inevitably always need local currency.

Credit cards and debit cards often will incur high fees which you don’t want to pay for. And if you bring cash to exchange, you will almost always get bad rates at most exchange places unless you want to go through the hassle of trying to exchange with a local bank.

To combat the challenge of getting local currency whenever you need it, I recommend getting a Charles Schwab account and ATM card. Not only is it free to open an account, but you also get $100 for opening a free account. The best part is you can use your ATM card to withdraw local currency from almost any ATM machines worldwide without any fees. Charles Schwab reimburses all fees from ATM withdrawals worldwide.

This little tip proved to be invaluable when I traveled around the world and needed local currency in each place. This way, you won’t have to carry a lot of cash around with you and you can withdraw just the amount you need. This is important because drawing too much cash creates a problem of exchanging the local currency back to whatever currency you normally use.

Just be sure to keep your ATM card safe.

 

5. Know How to Get Around

This may be more of a tip than a hack but one of the most important things to know once you get to your destination is how to your accommodation.

Once you’ve checked into your hotel, airbnb, or hostel, you’ll have a lot more flexibility to move around as you wish and you won’t have to lug all your luggage around. But you’ll still need to know the best mode of transport so you’re not paying for expensive cabs everywhere.

Walking & Public transport is always the most economical means of transportation. On the flip side, cabs & ride-sharing is not only expensive but in a lot places you are more likely to get scammed.

To get around, even without knowing the local transit, Google maps is an incredible tool that will not only tell you exactly where to go and what to take but it normally gives you a fairly accurate estimation of total transit time with traffic.

If you get stuck somewhere, ask people around you. More often than not, people are usually willing to help – particularly if you are nice about it.

6. Be Respectful and Kind

On the onset, this also may not really seem like a travel hack, but it’s one of the best advices I can give./

Having traveled extensively around the world, the one thing that remained constant was no matter where you are or what culture you are in, people will always respond well to respectfulness and kindness.

You may not always know how to honor someone else’s culture but if you treat everyone you meet as human beings deserving respect no matter their race, you will find much more joy in embracing people from all walks of life around the world.

And that’s one of the best things about travel – to see, learn, and understand more of someone who is different from you.

 

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