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Sleeping in Airports? 5 Ways to Do It Like a Boss

Sarah Lempa

Chicago, IL, USA

Sleeping in airports should be considered a sport. Hell, for our purposes, it pretty much is. Maybe your flight got cancelled because of a monster snowstorm, you decided to take vouchers to be bumped from an oversold flight, or you have no concept of time and missed it altogether.

Whatever your story is, one fact rings true: you are a citizen of the airport for the night and it’s time to make the most of it. While this may seem like an arduous or perhaps downright uncomfortable task, there are a few things that can help you handle it like a complete boss.

Travel With Items for Success

Airport snooze.

Most people travel with a standard set of toiletries. Other people travel with a shockingly sub-standard set of toiletries. Some people bring a whole freakin’ spa to the airport, and personally, I find that a tad excessive. Find your happy medium.

What’s the advantageous thing about bringing a standard set? Well, my friends, there are a few items that can save you from some strife when you’re curling up on those luxurious faux-leather terminal seats.

  • An Eye Mask: Seriously, those fluorescent lights are just trying to dry your eyes out. Traveling with an eye mask is great for flights and unexpected terminal slumber parties.
  • A Travel Towel: Aside from the obvious purpose, travel towels are lightweight and can be used as blankets, or rolled up into a makeshift pillow. Apologize to your neck in advance, however, it’s better than nothing.
  • Ear Plugs: They’re minuscule, highly effective, and block out the screaming army of children by Gate B6.
  • A Steady Collection of Podcasts: For when you get tired of listening to the intercom hour after hour. Check out Vulture’s list of the 10 Best Podcasts of 2018.

Get Creative With Your Clothes

DIY hat face mark. Photo by Sarah Lempa.

You’d be surprised how multi-purpose some clothing items are…and I’m not even talking about umbrella hats. Sometimes it takes an interesting situation, like sleeping in airports, to bring out that creative flow.

  • The Sweatshirt Pillow: Surprisingly, not that uncomfortable.
  • The Oversized Shirt Luggage Cover: If you’re worried about someone digging in your bag while you snooze, put an oversized shirt or sweatshirt on your backpack or small suitcase. It’s not a lock, but it makes access more difficult — not to mention looks pretty funny.
  • The Headband Eye Cover: An underprepared traveler’s eye mask.

Plan Your Snacks Accordingly

Early morning airport snack.

Most airport food courts and convenience stores close down before midnight. Traveling with dry snacks is always a good idea — such as scrumptious granola, a mystery assortment of nuts, or your favorite cereal. Airports are notorious for overcharging travelers for just about everything.

I’ve seen the horrors of $14 sandwiches and $6 bottles of water, and I never want to succumb to their lure again. Please, in my honor, Save some pennies and bring your own pantry.

Scope Out Your Bed

A quiet place to crash. Shanti Hesse /

Each airport is a different animal. Depending on where you are in the world, you could be set up for a fairly comfortable experience, or total run-down hell. One resource you can check out is Sleeping in Airports. This tell-all guide covers airports worldwide, dishing out detailed facility guides and reviews from airport floor sleepers themselves.

There are a few key considerations you should keep in mind when looking for your 5-star airport accommodations:

  • Check the times of flights leaving from nearby gates: You don’t want to get woken up at 4:30 am by the Hawaiian shirt-wearing vacationers on the redeye to Orlando, Florida. Check the monitors to see which gates will be free until you have to wake up.
  • Spoon your luggage, preferably facing a wall: This is a way to ensure that no one is going to mess with your bag. Give your bag a big bear hug- it’s pretty unlikely that someone will try to pry it out of your arms.
  • Sleep halfway beneath the chairs, if the carpet is clean: This may sound a bit gross, but it’s going to give you more privacy. Besides, some airports keep their carpets pretty clean!
  • Sleep by a security camera, or other travelers: Strength in numbers and security cameras.

Have A Sense of Humor

Airport fun.

At the end of the day, all you can do is accept your situation, so you might as well make the most of it. Hit up the airport bar and see who else is stranded. FaceTime all of your friends and show them your sweet digs for the night. Make a music video. Dance with the janitors. Start a band. The possibilities are endless.

Think of the bright side: by sleeping in airports, you’re saving money on a hotel, and you’re going to have a great story out of it. If it’s not so funny at the time, it probably will be in a few days once you’re back to the comforts of a regular bed.