Sleeping in Airports

Sleeping in Airports

Having completed a Gap Yah where I earned well below minimum wage, I like to think of myself as some sort of pro when it comes to sleeping in airports. This includes instances of long stopovers, cancelled Tiger Airlines flights, catching the Easyjet 4am flight to save £10, landing at 11pm and waiting till the first bus at 7am, or just those final nights of a holiday when you’ve spent your last £10 on cider and can’t afford the hostel. Admittedly, most of mine have been in and around Europe, but I’m sure my tips could be handy for any continent.

  1. Scout out early for chairs. Unfortunately some airport architects have been real dicks and decided to put arm rests between chairs. If you’ve got an eating disorder, you can fit between these poorly placed pieces of plastic, but for the rest of us, look for maximum consecutive seats WITHOUT arm rests and perch yourself there. Now don’t feel bad if your chosen snoozing area coincides with a departing flight’s gate. My motto is just pretend your asleep and don’t move even when someone tries to wake you. This is your beauty sleep we’re talking about.
  2. Take some sort of blanket. I prefer a sarong as it has multiple uses (clothing, blanket, shoulder scarf for the Vatican, extra padding on bike seats… the list goes on) as they tend to crank up the aircon.
  3. Attach your luggage to you. My preferred method was to put my main bag under my legs, tie my hand luggage around my wrist with a ribbon or hair tie and put my handbag/wallet with passport, credit cards, camera and phone under my head.  For really dodgy places, I put my handbag under my shirt, which makes me look pregnant but prevents it from being stolen. You may think these measures are extreme, but I have a friend who went to sleep in Madrid airport wearing sandals, only to wake up without them.
  4. Try and get early check-in and go through security or alternatively, don’t leave customs if you’re already through. It’s generally a lot cleaner, warmer and has much more seating through security.
  5. Pack earphones/earplugs. Unfortunately loud speakers at airports don’t take into consideration the poor sleeping folk, so announcements such as, “Unattended luggage will be TERMINATED!” are guaranteed to wake you up.
  6. Perch yourself at a restaurant if seating can’t be found. Generally they make you buy something every once in a while, so if you’re in a group choose the cheapest restaurant (i.e. McDonald’s) and take it in turns to buy a 30c cone or $1 cheeseburger every hour.
  7. Males – sleep inwards against the wall/chair. You never know when you’re going to wake up with a pre-breaky erecky, and airports are pretty public places.
  8. Take disinfectant wipes to use as your “shower”, and lock yourself in the disabled toilets to do a full-body wipe down. This is especially important if you didn’t have time to shower before getting to the airport/are meeting a hot boy or girl the next day. I’ve had friends who have done a full body shave and Brazilian wax in these toilets to prepare themselves for a special someone that they might meet at the next destination. Alternatively, just use the soap and toilet paper provided and maybe douse yourself with duty-free perfume afterwards.
  9. Take midnight snacks. A lot of the restaurants close down overnight and we all know vending machines can be such a rip-off, so take some midnight munchies if you’re bored and can’t sleep. Alternatively, don’t, and be super super skinnnayyyy the next day.
  10. Tell your parents you’ve got accommodation booked. From my experience, parents tend to freak when you tell them you’re all good and are sleeping in an airport that night. It doesn’t tend to help either when you try to calm them by explaining that you do it all the time.


A few of the airports I highly recommend sleeping in are:

  1. Singapore Airport. Such babes whoever designed that place. They have fully reclining chairs with a view of the runway.
  2. Athens Airport. Highly recommend the McDonalds in their International Airport. Comfy padded chairs for the cheap price of €1 chicken and cheese burgers every hour.
  3. Gatwick Airport. Although they have the loudest announcements every 15 minutes about terminating unattended luggage, they are generous enough to provide some pretty comfy chairs.
  4. Taipei Airport. Provide general seating – not the comfiest, but doesn’t have arm rests so I can’t complain (this is only through customs – not sure about outside).
  5. Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. There are “rest zones” with reclining chairs – amazing.

Airports I recommend avoiding:

  1. Stansted and Luton Airports. Such a bitch to get to, and then no sleeping area is provided. Selfish.
  2. Milan airport. Their floors are really cold and there was a reversing truck beeping the entire night!
  3. Charles De Gaulle. Soooo shit.
  4.  Bali. Didn’t sleep here but when I arrived, I was very glad I wasn’t planning on it. Minimal seats looked free.
  5. Brunei. No food, booze or seating.

If you want any more information, visit – they’ve got the lowdown on most airports so you can prepare for your next trip.

Sweet dreams!

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