How to Sleep in an Airport

Last Updated on December 6, 2023

How to Sleep in an Airport

Have you always been jealous of Tom Hanks in the movie ‘The Terminal’ but never tried sleeping in an airport?  Then here’s a guide to sleeping in one!

How to sleep in an airport

If you have a massive layover and can’t be bothered finding a hotel, which costs the earth for a few hours sleep, then sleeping in the airport is the way to go.  It could save you at least $50 and if you’re on a tight budget and are a backpacker then this means a lot of money.  That could be a couple of days in Asia or it could be half the cost of a bungee jump.  If you‘re prepared then it’s not that bad.  Plus if you are young then make the most of it because when you get to a certain age you won’t be able to just sleep in an airport.

My sleeping in airport kit:

  • I always take my puffer jacket (similar to this). It’s practically a sleeping bag and makes a comfortable pillow as well!
  • Wipes, in case there are no showers to freshen yourself up with
  • I take headphones because sometimes it’s too noisy to go to sleep
  • A bottle of water and snacks so I don’t have to move and lug my stuff around everywhere
  • Sunglasses to block out the light
  • Comfortable clothes

How to Sleep in an Airport

Research beforehand about the airport

Do a little research beforehand about what the airport might be like and what hours it is open.  Quite a few are open 24 hours but some are not, so make sure you check out the airports’ website to find opening information.  Google can be your best friend!

 The top 5 airports to sleep in are:

  1. Singapore Changi airport
  2. Seoul Incheon
  3. Amsterdam Schiphol
  4. Hong Kong airport
  5. Helsinki Vantaa

Top 5 worst are:

  1. Ninoy Aquino (Manila)
  2. Bergamo (Italy)
  3. Kolkata Airport
  4. Benazir Bhutto, Islamabad
  5. Paris Beauvais

How to Sleep in an Airport

How to sleep in an airport

Find it hard to sleep anywhere other than a bed?  Well it might be a little more difficult for you but there are ways.  Search for the perfect place to sleep by checking all of the terminals.  Usually, the arrivals hall is much more comfortable to sleep in than the departures.  If you find it hard to fall asleep then try a sleep app.  I use the Sleep Well app and it knocks me out in less than 8 minutes!  If worst comes to worst then just try drinking instead!

Where to put your bags when sleeping in an airport?

Some people actually chain their bags to their legs.  You could do that or you could look less psychotic and just simply sleep on them.  I usually will wear my backpack or put my legs over it so if someone does try and touch it I will wake up straight away.  A good tip is to put all the zips away from the open and put them closest to you.  Make sure your bags are locked as well.

make sure you have travel insurance just incase!

Are you on a transfer or separate flight? 

If you are on a transfer then you will be stuck in one the transfer lounges and have no option of going to different terminals.  This is usually a little more comfortable though!  If you are entering a country and then have a flight the next morning, then think about how you won’t be able to get into the departure lounge until 3 hours before your flight.  Go check out the arrivals hall in that case.

Where to find a good spot to sleep in an airport

As mentioned above check out the arrivals hall rather than departures, it is usually a lot comfier.  To hunt out the best place, see where other travellers are sleeping.  Check out security cameras and sleep where one is overlooking you in case something does happen.

Want some other great tips about airport sleeping?

  • Set your phone alarm and make it loud and put it on for more than once. Always double-check the time as well because you do not want to miss your flight!  If your phone is going to die or you don’t have access to an alarm, write on a piece a paper wake me up at 5 am and stick it to you so people can wake you up.  Another trick is to say the time you need to wake up 5 times before you go to sleep.
  • Find your sleeping spot early. There will be a few other travellers with the same idea as you!
  • • Blue light from devices can impact the quality of your sleep so make sure to turn off your laptop and phone 30 to 60 minutes before going to sleep.
  • I once heard a trick that if you hire a car for the night from a rental company, you could sleep in that if worst comes to worst. I’m not sure if this is a great idea because usually, cars are freezing to sleep in overnight but if you’re stuck then there’s that option!

Well, that’s your complete guide to sleeping in an airport.  Hope you found some handy tips in there for your next long layover!

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The Comments

  • scar
    September 11, 2015

    Agreed on all points! I had my first ever airport sleeping experience in Geneva a few weeks ago and it wasn’t as bad as I’d thought it would be, but I wish I’d taken a bottle of water. I also took a long dress out of my bag and draped it over myself entirely (including over my head), which shut out some of the airport lights and helped me get to sleep. I probably looked like a total freak but I think it helped!

  • Kirstin (thetinberrytravels)
    June 17, 2016

    Checking times is key. My other half and I ended up sleeping in Sydney Airport but turns out only the International Terminal is 24hr and the Domestic closes and so everyone is crammed into a tiny corridor. I’ve also slept in JFK after a late night flight as even a hostel is so expensive and often have a late night charge. Definitely not worth it for a few hours so airport floor for me.

    Check out sharing stories, adventures and travel related nonsense as I explore the world bit by bit

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > Kirstin (thetinberrytravels)
      June 21, 2016

      Yes, that is definitely a key factor!

  • Lisa Elford
    March 14, 2017

    Slept in a few airports myself, sleeping eye masks are invaluable and small enough to pack. Oh just thought of an invention…skin coloured ones with open eyes on the front to deter thieves…opps that might not be such a good idea at deterring others wanting to chat though!