If you have read my previous post on five tips for a relaxing flight, I have two things to say to you. 1) you are awesome, and 2) by reading the following you will assure yourself a totally smooth and healthy journey from your origin to your destination, and crack the trials and tribulations of sleeping in the airport.
As I have said before, I spend an awful lot of time on long haul flights, and thus I also spend an awful lot of time sleeping in the airport. My most recent airport sleepover involved a ten-hour layover in Bangkok International Departures. This is not a particularly high-tech airport; there are no sleep pods, so I was therefore forced to plan ahead to make sure that I had the essential resources for a ‘pleasant’ sleep (as pleasant as can be expected when you in an airport under those disgusting fluorescent lights). Below, I have specified how I go about creating the perfect little dormouse nest for myself in the airport, to try and catch as many of my 40 winks as possible, although I think that we can all agree when I say that it will most likely be more like 27 winks, if you’re lucky.
Hibernation Gear for Sleeping in the Airport
Firstly, it’s all about the attire. Most seasoned travelers amongst us will have a set ‘flying outfit’. Mine consists of a t-shirt and a nice thick jumper (which is easy to take on and off, and tie around my waist). On my bottom half I wear the baggiest and softest trousers you ever will meet – and this is essential. Whenever I see people wearing jeans on a flight I am flabbergasted, absolute mentals. In terms of footwear, I go for comfortable trainers, which again are easy to slip on and off. I’m the kind of person that likes to curl up like a small rodent, so the shoes need to be able to come off. However, hands down the most important choice you have to make is underwear. If you wear a bra, avoid super tight, push-up, underwired things that are so padded they will make you sweat and stink: who are you trying to impress anyway? I always look and smell like a semi-decaying rat when flying anyway, so nobody’s looking. Personally, I would opt for a bra with minimum padding, which sits well and doesn’t rub. For your knickers (or boxers), make sure that they are loose enough: there is nothing worse than feeling like your life is being squeezed out of your nether-regions. The ultimate underwear tip I can give you, however, is that of sock choice. If you are in the habit of taking off your shoes, you must have socks that are soft, warm (but not so thick that they make your feet sweat and everybody around you despise you), and long enough to provide acceptable warmth. Basically, you want to feel as though you are in your pyjamas, without looking like you are in your pyjamas.
Hibernation Prep for Sleeping in the Airport
The excitements of Duty Free can get to the best of us, so remember to try and avoid eating anything super sugary or caffeine based. I usually find a café and get myself a fruit tea, to warm the cockles of my heart. If you are the kind of person that gets sleepy with alcohol, why not get yourself a little tipple? However, remember that needing to pee once you have set up your nest is going to be the most annoying thing ever.
Nesting Area for Sleeping in the Airport
Secondly, you need to find your napping area. If you are on the plane, my last post gives you tips on choosing the right seat for your journey. If you are in the airport, you will need to sniff out a little corner somewhere. Some people prefer to find seats to lie on, however take into account how busy the airport is. You don’t want to be that guy who takes up a full row of seats by your gate. Personally, I actually prefer the floor. There is less concern over being woken up by an angry fellow passenger, you are more likely to find the space to sleep, and people tend to take less notice of you. So find a corner that is not too far from the announcement boards, as we all have the fear of oversleeping and missing our flight. Once you have found your nesting spot, now you need your nest.
Nest Materials for Sleeping in the Airport
Bring a coat. This can then act as either your mattress, or your cover, depending on how cold it is. I often find that if you are napping near your gate, it is a lot warmer than the main part of the airport. Additionally, the gate floor is often carpeted, which adds that extra 5mm of comfort. For your pillow, you will be using your hand luggage bag. Therefore, your bag choice is pretty important. Try and choose one made of soft material, although if this is unavoidable it’s not the end of the world. To avoid the hard bag = broken neck situation, also pack yourself a scarf. If you have a soft bag, you can bundle it up inside the bag to soften the blow, and if it is a hard bag then it can be bundled and put between your head and the bag. The scarf can serve a double purpose here, as if you are like me and struggle with the fluorescent lighting; you can use it to cover your eyes. The added benefit of the bag-pillow method, , is that you are keeping your hand luggage close to you, and you would definitely feel it if somebody tried to make off with it – although I’m not sure where they would go in an airport. Some people recommend those neck pillows, but I think they’re fairly crap, and actually just give me neck ache. If you’re lucky, when you are on flight they will provide you with a pillow and/or a blanket, but it is always worth having the scarf and coat combo in case you are flying a budget airline that scrimps out on those luxuries.
As I have mentioned, try to keep close to the announcement boards, so that you don’t miss your flight. If you think that you might slip into a sleep akin to Sleeping Beauty, then set an alarm on your phone that will wake you with plenty of time to spare. Often, you will find that you don’t exactly sleep deeply, and you might wake up every time they make an announcement over the tannoy.
Have you ever had a horrible (or great) experience when sleeping in the airport? Have you got any gems of advice for me? Let me know in the comments section, and good luck sleeping in the airport!