In the past year I’ve been on 67 flights across all six continents. With that comes many nights sleeping in airports. When you fly often sometimes it’s just much easier and cheaper to find a place to curl up for a few hours of shut-eye at the airport rather than getting a hotel or hostel room for all of a few hours and then having to get a taxi or other transport to the airport in the middle of the night. I am not one who particularly sees the sense in paying for a full night stay somewhere and then only staying for a few hours. Add to that the fact that in most places the public transit options that usually take you to and from the airport shut down at night and taxis typically charge higher rates in the overnight hours, it just doesn’t make sense financially.
Sleeping in Airports Website
The single best resource I can share with you when it comes to sleeping in an airport is:
I had spent many nights in airports before coming across this comprehensive site detailing many of the airports that people are likely to spend a night at. Before that it was a matter of scouring Google for any info and reviews I could find on airports. This site is great because it has a huge selection of airports that have been reviewed as well as first hand accounts from people on the WI-FI situation (or lack thereof), the power outlet situation, food options and most importantly, the best places in the airport to find comfy seating or a quiet corner to lye on the floor and sleep.
Another big benefit I’ve personally come across with the site is that it even mentions things you might forget to research on your own such as whether or not the airport closes up shop at night. It may seem crazy to us, but believe it or not there are international airports around the world that close down in the overnight hours to save money and due to a lack of flights servicing that location in those hours. It’s not just third world countries where this happens either. I’ve experienced it in Cairns, Melbourne and Maui as well. Let me tell you, unexpectedly getting kicked out of an airport in the middle of the night because they are closing up for a few hours is a very off-putting experience to say the least, especially when you don’t even know it is going to happen. However with the Sleeping in Airports website, people mention things like this so you can be prepared and not be blindsided by airport security
If you are planning a trip where there is the potential to be spending the night in the airport, I definitely recommend checking out and using this site. It’ll save you a lot of time and hassle on researching your airport stay.
Starbucks, McDonalds and Burger King
If you are going to be spending the night in an airport and looking for a good place to sleep, I’d recommend heading over to the nearest Starbucks, McDonalds or Burger King. A lot of times these places close up after, say, 10pm and as i’m sure anyone who’s ever been to one knows, they have comfy bench seats. These establishments are often open on the terminal floor rather than behind a gate/doors that can be locked meaning that you can get to the seating area at all hours of the night even if the kitchen facilities have closed down.
Some more benefits of these places are that they are usually located on both land and air side of the terminal so even if you need to wait around for several hours at night on the land side before check-in opens, you can still find a nice place to sleep. Furthermore, these restaurants usually always offer free WI-FI even if the airport doesn’t and if they don’t but the airport does, the airport signal pretty much always covers inside these places as well.
While I do not like Starbucks at all for their food or beverage, I LOVE them when it comes to sleeping overnight in an airport. If I have to spend a night in an airport and they have a Starbucks, I feel like I’ve won the jackpot! It is honestly a great place to curl up with very comfortable seating, free WI-FI and lots of power outlets to charge your devices at. Lets face it, for backpackers my age, WI-FI and power outlets are the highest priority no matter where we stay so if you can save a few dollars and get all that at the airport for free why not!?
Let me warn you, sometimes you may get kicked out of some of these places so just be warned. It doesn’t happen all that often but it does happen so just be advised. Have a couple of backups in mind of other places in the airport to go in case that happens. Even some sections of a terminal close at night which can be even more odd. For example, the Virgin Air section of the Melbourne terminal closes at night and re-opens around 5AM. I was taking a Virgin flight early in the morning so naturally I was going to sleep at my gate but was surprised when it closed and I got kicked out of this portion of the terminal until morning.
If you’re young, in good shape and not picky then by all means take that cheap middle of the night flight and save some money in the process on your overnight sleep as well. After all, my motto is that i’d rather spend money on experiences and those once in a lifetime memories rather than on a comfy bed for the few hours that I sleep anyways. Keep these pointers in mind next time you may be spending a night in an airport on your travels and you’re sure to have a more enjoyable experience.