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The Traveller's Magazine
  •   3 min read

Imagine it is the end of your trip. You are almost out of money and your flight home leaves early the next morning. You have only a few options: sleep at an airport hotel or sleep in town and try to figure out the night bus system to get to the airport in time OR sleep at the airport. Desperate and grimy? Maybe but if you do it right, its not that bad.

We realize it sounds a little extreme, a last resort. The idea of putting your therma-rest on the airport floor and snoozing away in your sleeping back with your knapsack under your head might seem frightening but more and more travellers are vouching for this option to save money and time. It’s not recommended to just sleep in any airport anywhere in the world, but there are few that we would say thumbs up! And a few that we would say thumbs down!

It is always best to research your airport before if you are going to choose this option. There is a great resource available, The Guide to Sleeping in Airports, which has reviews and comments which can be very useful. Here we’ll give you the best two and the worst two.

At the top of the list is the Changi Singapore Airport. There are two lounge areas with couches and alarm clocks but some comments made it very clean that airport staff like to lounge there themselves, taking up all the room. But it is generally quiet during the night and there are free internet kiosks, free massage chairs in the Oasis Lounge as well as a pool, sauna, movie theatre, 24 hour restaurants, and showers for a small fee. It almost sounds like a hotel. If you really want some privacy for a few hours to catch some shut eye, the airport hotel rents rooms by the hour.

Another airport that is easy to sleep at is the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. Although there have been some incidents of stolen laptops and wallets, if you fall asleep with it sticking out of your pocket its no doubt this will happen. If you are afraid of theft, check your luggage in a locker and head to the comfort chairs that recline and have foot rests as well. Unfortunately there are often announcements made during the night and the lights can be bright but if you have a pair of ear plugs and a sweater to cover your eyes this shouldn’t be a problem. If you are looking for a free bed, head to the First Air Office. Wake up call is at 5:00.

The worst hotel according to the reviews on The Guide to Sleeping in Airports is Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. Since the airport is connected to the extensive transportation system many homeless people also head to the airport for a warm place to sleep at night. Many travellers are pestered by them asking for food and money. The staff is generally unpleasant and rude if you do not speak French. The main seating areas have plastic or metal chairs, each with armrests, making any chance of spreading out impossible. There are few couches and sometimes very few chairs, even at boarding stations. Some areas have wireless internet. Terminal 2 is the best bet since it is much newer and much cleaner.

For those travelling to Russia it is good to know in advance that Moscow has one of the worst airports to sleep in. Shermetyevo is very dark and dim. The staff has generally been reported as unhelpful. The different terminals themselves have little seating and there are also limited amenities so it is helpful to bring food along with you for the night. A few reviews suggested finding one of the sleeping rooms for babies to sleep in. If you want to avoid the crowds and being disturbed, head instead to the second level away from the main counters.

We are sure it isn’t all that bad and many travellers do have good experiences sleeping in airports. Research ahead to know what if offered, keep your wallet and valuables on your person and well hidden, sleep in groups if you can, set an alarm and don’t worry. If you don’t sleep well that night there is always the chance once you get settled on the airplane.

Tell us your stories about sleeping in airports! We’d love to read them!

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