Survival Guide: 9 Tips to Surviving a Night in the Airport
by Francesca Esce
If you are spending a semester abroad, chances are, you’ll have to take a plane or two; unless there’s a group boat trip across the Atlantic that was organized by the Office of International Programs that I wasn’t filled in on. There’s also a good chance that you will become more acquainted with flight while in Europe, or wherever else you might be studying. Cheap flights within Europe, for example, are much easier to come by than cheap flights within the United States. With apps like Hopper and Skyscanner, it’s easy to find the best deals to shell out some dough to get to a place you’ve always wanted to go. In fact, just last week for Fall Break, I visited 3 amazing European cities in 6 days. Which, by default, means I was on 4 flights in 6 days. Which means, coincidentally, I spent a lot of time in airports. The unfortunate truth is that often times, the more flights you take, the greater probability there is of something going wrong and perhaps leaving you no choice but to sleep overnight in the airport. Maybe the coach bus (*cough* National Express *cough*) you booked a ticket for was an HOUR AND A HALF LATE and you missed your flight to ROME, so you had to pay an extra £50 to spend 16 HOURS in LUTON AIRPORT instead of the cozy AIRBNB THAT YOU BOOKED IN THE HEART OF ROME and MAYBE NATIONAL EXPRESS WOULDN’T EVEN GIVE YOU A REFUND…(ok, calm down, Chessie.) Anyway, there’s always a chance that this may happen to you, so here’s some tips that I’ve picked up that might help you stay sane for whatever amount of time you may have to spend in an airport.
1. Set-Up Camp
If you don’t have enough room in your luggage for a pop-up tent or a hammock of some sort, I’d recommend taking the time to scan the airport for the comfiest chairs you can find. This will be key. Don’t be afraid to lurk around seats that are already occupied, you are going to want to comfy chairs. Chances are, you will be at the airport longer than whoever is currently occupying the chair, and you will be able to snag it as soon as they get up. Finders keepers. Once you’re in the chair, mark your territory. This chair is yours now. Maybe even hiss at passerby so they know not to mess with you and your chair.
PRO-TIP: Combine two chairs into a bed for maximum comfort.
2. Find An Outlet (And Protect It With Your Life)
In a small airport like London Luton, wall outlets are like a watering hole. All the unlucky people who would rather spend the night at the airport than stay at a cheap hotel are gonna want an outlet at some point. Be warned: if you have your chair-bed set up near an outlet, chances are you will befriend 3 Italian men, one of which only speaks Italian and keeps talking to you in Italian even though you literally cannot understand him at all. This may continue for 4-6 hours, but he might buy you french fries from Burger King, which is a huge plus.
PRO-TIP: Invest in a portable battery USB charger in case no outlets are available near you.
3. Find a Way to Watch Netflix
I don’t care what you have to do, get the Netflix app on your phone. Not enough storage space? Delete useless things like old photos or your entire contact list. You can also stream shows on your browser if you’re really desperate. This makes the time go by faster.
4. Pack a Book
Always be prepared, if you are taking any sort of transit, to have to wait. Always having a book on you is a good way to combat boredom and to keep others from talking to you while you are in your chair-bed at the airport in a bad mood.
5. Make Sure You Eat
Airports aren’t always the cheapest options for food, but you’re bound to find a meal deal of some sort. Make sure you eat something, and hope that something isn’t a burned, over-priced cheeseburger from Burger King. Your best bet would probably be a £3.79 meal deal from W.H Smith and maybe a package of gummies to get you through your Grey’s Anatomy marathon.
6. Make Sure You Snapchat Excessively So Your Friends Feel Bad For You
If your friends are going to send you snaps from their fall break destinations, best be ready to send them some “I just cried in the airport bathroom” selfies. Maybe even send out a tweet that explicitly says “feel bad for me” so everyone will.
7. Try and Travel With a Buddy
Having a friend with you is really helpful to keep watch over your campsite if you need to use the bathroom or go cry to your mom on FaceTime in public. They are also good subjects for creative Snapchat stories and you can set up both your chair-beds to create a blockade around YOUR outlets. Airports can be lonely, and having a friend with you is always a plus. *(Thanks for being my rock, Eunice.)
8. Beware of Thieves
Always have your stuff nearby. It’s sad to say but you really can’t trust anyone. Sleep with your valuables if you need to sleep and you’re on your own or sleep on your luggage. Otherwise, take turns sleeping with a friend, so one of you can keep watch. If you are really worried, there are always security guards around airports. Know where they are and ask for help if you need it.
9. Keep Things In Perspective
This may seem like the worst thing that could happen, but just remember that you get to travel to these amazing cities and experience wonderful things. This doesn’t mean you don’t get to be annoyed or angry, ‘cause let’s be honest, spending the night in the airport can suck.
On a more serious note, in the midst of the Syrian Refugee Crisis, millions of people have been displaced from their homes due to the conflicts in Syria. Many of these people are making homes in train stations and transit, trying to find their next connection, and sadly, many nations aren’t welcoming them. For me, I knew I would be able to get on a plane after my 16 hour endeavor at the airport. There are so many refugees who don’t know when their waiting will end. Please consider donating and learning about the refugee crisis here.