Sleeping at the Airport: 4 Survival Tips

by  Wendy Helfenbaum | Oct 15, 2019
Father and son at airport
Father and son at airport / YakobchukOlena/iStock

If a raging snowstorm blows through town just as your family is leaving on vacation, you might be facing long delays — followed by a nobody’s-going-anywhere experience if your flight gets cancelled. Since nearby airport hotels fill up quickly in severe weather, you might become stuck at the airport. Here's how the entire family can prepare for this unexpected adventure. 

1. Research Your Airport

Believe it or not, airports aren't always a terrible place to be stranded. Some have onsite gyms, spas, daycares, and sleeping pods. In fact, a website devoted to the art of sleeping in 800 airports worldwide recently named the top 25 for "sleep-ability" and related amenities. The top five: Singapore, Seoul, Estonia, Vancouver, and Kuala Lumpur. Airports in Amsterdam, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Newark, and Paris, for example, provide stranded travelers with cots; some even hand out bedding, basic toiletries, and food vouchers. 

2. Use Your Carry-On Luggage and Clothing as a Survival Kit

You may already know about dressing in layers, but choosing the right travel clothing pays off big time when you’re stranded at the airport. Jackets from companies like Baubax, for example, feature built-in travel blankets, inflatable pillows, and footrests, making your unexpected delays much more comfortable. Everyone’s bag should also include a change of clothing, basic toiletries, wet wipes, tissues, headphones, chargers, and spare batteries for electronic devices — plus children’s books, toys, and activities to keep kids entertained.

3. Pack More Snacks Than You Think You’ll Need

While most airports have restaurants and vending machines, inflated prices can quickly bust your budget. Also, many food concessions shut down overnight. Avoid hunger by stuffing TSA-approved snacks into your carry-on (including baby food, cereal, cheese, chocolate, crackers, dried fruits, vegetables, nuts, pizza, and sandwiches) – just don’t pack any liquids exceeding 3.4 ounces. Tuck a collapsible water bottle such as this one from Genius Earth inside your bag, too.

4. Live it Up in the Lounge

If possible, purchase a lounge day pass, which usually run between $50 and $75; many include food, drinks, wifi, and even shower facilities. Apps like LoungeBuddy, Skytrax, and Lounge Guide provide information about lounges worldwide, and some allow you to buy passes. Pro-tip: Most airlines offer travel alerts in real time via text or email messages, so sign up for those to be sure you don’t miss your re-scheduled flight the next morning.

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