I love sleeping in the airport! Said no one ever. Unfortunately, travelers often find themselves in these situations where this might be the only option. We are here to help provide an overnight sleeping guide at the gate!
Maybe you missed your flight because of traffic, your connecting flight was missed, your flight was canceled or delayed, or you have a long layover. These things, unfortunately, come with the territory of traveling, so it is best to be prepared in advance in the event one of these things happens to you!
If you have a long layover, you can read our guide for best ways to kill time during a long layover.
If you happen to find yourself in an unfortunate circumstance where you need to spend the night at an airport, make sure you know these tips, or are at least prepared with a few of the following top tips to actually fall asleep in an airport!
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Finding a place to sleep
This is perhaps the most important top tip on our overnight sleeping guide at the gate. Without the right location, you can kiss sleeping at the airport goodbye.
Take a moment to ask airport employees for some advice on sleeping at the airport. There may be a dedicated area for airport sleepers that you would not have known about otherwise. They can also advise you on sleeping options, as many airports now have sleeping pods or in airport hotels for rent!
Some airports may not have anything to offer you, but you won’t know without asking!
If you must sleep somewhere in the terminal, find a spot near other people, especially others who are sleeping. Safety in numbers!
Try to find an area where there is not a lot of foot traffic (as the noise can wake you up easily), but still monitored by airport employees or security cameras.
Another great sleeping option is to find a wall to sleep against, preferably with an outlet. Try not to sleep next to a window, as they can be cold and let a lot of light in when you are trying to get some shut-eye!
Another option is to find seats at a gate without armrests, so you can lay down! However, be sure there are no flights leaving from that area so you will not be disturbed.
A question we hear a lot from travelers wanting to sleep at the airport is what to do with their luggage. Thankfully, many airports have luggage storage rooms or lockers you can use to keep your belongings safe while you sleep. Simply ask an airport employee if you need help finding one!
Otherwise, you will need to hold onto your luggage. Lay by a wall, and place your important bags between your body and the wall. Try using your bags as part of your sleeping arrangement, so if they are moved or someone tries to take them, you will be woken up.
Aim for sleeping spots near other travelers, who will help keep an eye on you while you are sleeping. If you have a bag with a handle or strap, try sleeping with your arm through it if it doesn’t interfere with you sleeping.
Some travelers recommend using luggage locks, so you can wrap your bag around a pole or seat leg and not have to worry about it! This is perhaps the safest option if you came prepared with a lock.
Find a cot/mat
Unless you are an avid yogi or went on a yoga retreat, chances are you did not bring a yoga mat with you on your vacation. However, if you did bring one for whatever reason, lucky you! You have something to lay on!
While the ground may be carpeted, let’s face it: it’s not comfortable, and sleeping is terribly difficult on hard floors.
Ask an airport employee if they provide cots for travelers needing to stay overnight. Some airports do provide them, so it can’t hurt to ask! If they say no, they may have some other advice for you that you wouldn’t have known otherwise.
Additionally, many airports now have fitness centers or yoga studios. Ask if you can borrow a mat to sleep on! Most of the time, these centers are not in use, so there should be plenty of mats to spare. Maybe even take two for some extra cushion!
If you cannot seem to find a cot or a mat anywhere, don’t panic! Try to build your own cushion with items you already have. Maybe you have a beach towel that can give you a little extra padding. Did you bring a travel blanket? Use that for a mat! You can always ask airline staff if they have any extra blankets or pillows from the flight you can use!
Use the Lounge
Almost every airport has a VIP lounge, and you should use it! While they may be expensive, there are things you can do to help cut costs. Refer to our guide of the best hacks airports don’t want you to know for more information on saving money at the airport lounge! You can also check Groupon, as they often have discounts for airport lounges.
Why should you use the airport lounge? Why shouldn’t you is the better question! At the lounge, you have access to buffet-style food for every meal, plus snacks and drinks! For sleeping, there are couches and comfy chairs to nap in, and some even have beds. You can also take a shower when you wake up!
If all else fails, consider the lounge. Getting a good night’s sleep and feeling rested is important when traveling, especially when switching time zones. Make sure you check the times of the airport lounge, to see when it opens and closes. It may not be worth it to only get a couple of hours at the lounge for the price.
Prepare for Bed
One of the most important top tips on our overnight sleeping guide at the gate is to prepare for bedtime, as close as possible to how you would at home. Take some time to go to the restroom to wash your face, brush your teeth, take off your makeup, brush your hair, etc. Following your bedtime routine will help signal to your body that it is time for bed. You will also feel refreshed, as traveling all day can certainly make you feel icky!
One of the top carry on items is a personal health pouch. Here you will find all the products you need to wind down and feel relaxed. Here are some examples of what you can put in yours:
Pack any travel-sized item in your carry on that you like to use when getting ready for bedtime, so you have all your favorite products on hand. This will help you relax, feel refreshed, and hopefully ready to get some sleep! This kit will also come in hand when you wake up in the morning!
Find a Pillow/Blanket
I don’t know about you, but I find it very difficult to sleep without a pillow and a blanket. Many travelers have a neck pillow with them on their travels, which can easily be used as a regular pillow if need be. However, a better and more comfortable way would be to find an actual pillow.
Ask airport employees and flight crew if they have any extra pillows or blankets from the flight that you could borrow. They might have some you can use!
Another option is to buy a travel blanket beforehand. These foldable travel blankets are small enough to pack in your carry on, and can be used as a pillow if you don’t unfold it! It can easily be used as a pillow or blanket, depending on which one you need!
You can also use a packing cube from your suitcase as a pillow. Simply stuff them packing cube with soft clothing items until it is full enough to your liking. While it may not be the most comfortable pillow you have ever slept on, it is certainly better than the floor!
If nothing is working for you, buy a pillow or blanket from the airport gift shops before they close.
If you are unexpectedly planning on staying at the airport for a while, chances are you are going to need some things! Start preparing early enough while stores and restaurants are still open in the airport.
Take inventory of what you have, and see what you will need to get through the night. Stock up on snacks while you still can, and fill up your reusable water bottle at the water fountain to save a few bucks on drinks.
Try to claim a sleeping spot early, for better chances are a good area! Again, aim for areas where there are other sleepers or places where there are airport employees and security cameras.
If stores and restaurants are already closed, you can always leave the terminal to get Uber eats or get food delivered to you. You will need to go back through security, but it is worth it if you are hungry enough!
What Items do you Need?
While you may not need all of these items, they will certainly help you get the best sleep possible if you have them! Many of these items are also very useful for how to actually sleep on an airplane, so stock up early if you can!
With these items, you should be able to sleep pretty much anywhere! It doesn’t take much to sleep with the right products, so prepare ahead of time before your flight in case there are any unexpected delays or cancellations. You can also reuse these items once you are on the plane to get some more sleep, as they are easily packable in your carry on bag.
Airlines are pretty good about providing you with hotel vouchers if the delay or cancellation was their fault. If you simply missed your flight, you are usually out of luck. If you missed your flight, still consider speaking with airline staff as they can usually book you on the next flight to your destination for a discounted price, and may offer you a voucher. Remember- always be nice and polite, to up your chances of getting more out of the deal!
If there were delays due to mechanical issues or weather, follow up with the airline’s desk to see if you can get a hotel voucher. With this, you should get transportation to and from the hotel, and usually get a meal voucher!
Even if it is your fault, it is worth asking for a voucher. Be kind and understanding, and you might get at least a meal voucher out of it!
Sleep in your car
Our final top tip for overnight sleeping guide at the gate is to sleep in your car! If the airport is very far from your home, and you don’t want to drive all the way back, consider sleeping in your backseat for the night. It might not be comfortable, but if you have a 3 hour drive back home, it might be worth it.
Another crazy idea if you don’t have a car, is to rent a car, just to sleep in. Crazy? Maybe. But desperate times calls for desperate measures, and cars are cheaper than hotels!
We hope you enjoyed reading our overnight sleeping guide at the gate! What advice do you have for travelers who are stuck at the airport? Leave a comment below, we would love to hear from you!