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!
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