Airports are definitely one of the top five areas for people watching. The ever-changing view combined with restaurants, bars and shops give airports a great place to kill some time between flights. However, travelers are frequently faced with a situation where a one night adventure becomes necessary.
Whether stuck due to the ever-so-common (annoying) delays or thriftily making a voluntarily choice to cut travel expenses, frequent airport sleepers know what to expect. I’ll tell you right now, roughing it in the gate of an airport for an evening isn’t going to leave you feeling as well rested as your last five-star hotel visit. Airports are designed for two purposes: first, to get people in and out of town, and second, to discourage sleeping. Let’s look at the facts:
* Even if you could find a way to sleep on the rows of chairs (which is nearly impossible due to the armrests which block the typical human body from lying horizontally), the furniture in airports is probably the most contaminated furniture that you’ll find in nearly any venue across the world. Hence, catching a cat nap could run you the risk of contracting a skin disease.
* Look around. Ever see any plush carpet? No. Tiled floors are very common and feel about as warm and inviting as an icebox.
* Dim spots exist, but are very rare. All lights are kept on all night, never dimmed. No mercy.
* Announcements are made at least every two minutes throughout the night. The later it gets, the louder they seem.
However, if you do decide to sleep in the airport, you’re guaranteed to make your early flight out, unless you were ever nominated class clown. In addition, you’ll be glad you didn’t fork over $200 for a four-hour stay in a hotel and a too-long cab ride.
I once thought I was an experienced airport sleeper. I’d pack my toothbrush, music player and an extra sweatshirt on my carry-on. But not until my last one-night stay in the Discomfort Inn did I realize I was an amateur. Here are some tips to cope with the airport conditions to better enjoy your next overnight stay.
1.) Get there early.
Obviously you’re early for your flight, but be sure you show up at a good hour to select a good campsite. Good spots are scouted and occupied quicker than you’d expect, so be prepared to hunt down sleeping quarters away from walkways. Look for places like behind ticket counters, under escalators, a corner with a burnt-out light bulb or on the luggage conveyor belts. Keep in mind some terminals may be more sleep-friendly than others.
2.) Bring your gear.
The essentials include a music player with flawless headphones, deodorant, eye shades, a toothbrush, six extra sweatshirts (three hooded), a snack and water. A book is also a great idea incase the sleeping plan doesn’t pan out.
3.) A large piece of paper and a Sharpie. In case you slip into a deep sleep (highly unlikely), you’ll want to write a note to give other travelers an opportunity to be a Good Samaritan and wake you up. A quick note with a simple request “Wake me up at 6:30” should get the job done.
4.) Remember you’re not a welcomed guest.
Airport officials likely have no sympathy. Normal people check into a hotel, and here you are exploring your inner homeless person, even though you obviously can afford round-trip tickets to Honolulu. Do what you can to act innocent. Even if you’re thoroughly enjoying your adventure, try to appear as if you wished you could be anywhere other than spending the night in the airport.
Good luck travelers. You may not realize it, but some of the greatest memories of your trip are had in the airport. If this isn’t the case, start checking into a hotel. You may have become too well-rehearsed.
Shootin’ the Wit is a weekly column about everyday life that should never, ever be taken too seriously.