The blaring lights burned my retinas, making me feel like I was at a hospital. I shivered, digging my hands into my armpits for warmth. My teeth chattered softly against one another as if in constant conversation. I brought my knees towards my chest, hoping that it would do something to make me warmer.
The same announcement played over and over again as if I was stuck in this same segment of hell for the rest of eternity.
I rolled over, my neck at an awkward angle because of the height of my dirty backpack. I saw an assortment of brown and pink gum, some obviously fresher than others, stuck to the bottom of the seat as if it were an artist’s idea of a hidden painting.
The thin carpet smelled like a mix of mildew and feet with a hint of dirty diaper. Brown stains were spread sporadically on the floor, making the carpet look like an inside out giraffe.
Fast forward two weeks: Same airport, different situation.
I woke up in a startle as the loud hum of dozens of suitcase rollers rolled passed me, pushed by a worker.
The tile floor had left a cold feeling in a very specific location on my ass and back. I wrapped the towel around my shoulders, thankful for this thin piece of cloth that was keeping me much warmer than before.
I sat up rolling my shoulders, noticing how stiff my neck was. There was a large divot in my backpack from where my head had been. Looking at it made me feel more uncomfortable, knowing my chin and chest had basically been making out all night. Ouch.
I put my head back down as my bruised spine dug into the tile floor. My friend and I weren’t allowed to pass through security yet, since our flight was the next day, so we were stuck in limbo between changing flights and the gate.
The money, Monica, think about how much you’re saving.
It was a long night.
These were my first and second times sleeping in an airport, more specifically, Miami Airport.
As I learned, there are a lot of ways to make your “stay” much more comfortable. After all, the host isn’t going to necessarily provide you with much comfort! Think about how many other guests are sleeping there?
Although some airports may have reclining chairs or rows of chairs without bars in between them, I’ve written a how-to guide for one of the worst types of situations you can be in. A freezing, loud, overly bright airport, where you have no choice but to sleep on the tile floor.
Here are tips on how to sleep in an airport:
Bring a blanket
I used a beach towel, because why would I bring a blanket to a country where it was 90 degrees Fahrenheit? If you have a blanket, and are sleeping in an airport, bring it. Extra points if you can roll it up into a neat little ball so it barely takes up any space in your bag.
Airports are very cold, and if you’re laying on a tile floor not moving, chances are, you’re going to be that much colder. Wrap yourself up in a nice blanket that traps your body heat and puts a buffer between you and the soulless feel of an airport.
Bring a pillow
If you have a small pillow, bring it. They even sell pillows that you fill up with air like a balloon. It’s a much better alternative to using a chunky, dirty backpack with odd angles and strange items poking out in peculiar ways.
Bring a sleeping bag
Have room in your bag? Bring a sleeping bag. I saw a few people wrapped comfortably against a wall in a sleeping bag, and wanted nothing more than to run over and rip it off of them.
Okay, maybe not, but it would have been great to have.
Check to see if your airport gives out free blankets and pillows
This was the biggest mistake I made. At 4 a.m., the second time around, as I was passing through security, one of the women said, “wow, you look freezing!” I looked at her, half asleep and delusional. She laughed and said, “you know they give out free blankets and pillows upstairs, right?”
I laughed for 7 minutes, and then gave her the death stare.
For your sake, check to see if they give out free blankets and pillows. It will save your body temperature, neck, and morale.
Okay, so you have a blanket. Make sure you’re also wearing pants, a sweatshirt, socks, and many other layers. You can always take them off.
Find a secluded corner and claim it
Privacy makes all the difference. My friend and I found a bunch of covered snack and news stands which we hid behind. There are some corners and hidden areas that are perfect for spending the night.
The first time around, I hid against a wall and under some chairs. It wasn’t ideal, but I didn’t want to be in the middle of the airport for everyone to gawk and stare at.
Bring headphones or ear plugs
The radio was on 24/7 in Miami Airport. I don’t know why they thought it to be a lovely idea to have it on at 3 in the morning, but I dozed off to a man’s voice repeating the same thing over and over, who then made it into my dreams.
Try listening to music or putting in ear plugs and shutting out the world.
Hold on to your valuables
Put them inside of your shirt, your pants, whatever. Hide them. Put them close to you, so that if someone comes over and tries to take them, they can’t without waking you up. I put my phone and passport in my pants and my GoPro and wallet inside of my shirt.
I slept on my backpack which I had also turned upside down and against a wall, as to prevent anyone from coming over and grabbing it.
Bring an eye mask
Or even a hat. I wore a hat and pulled it over my eyes. Even sunglasses work.
Closing my eyes did not get rid of those blaring lights. The darker it seems, the easier it will be to fall asleep.
It was 12:30 am when we arrived in Miami Airport the first time around. Everything was closed. Everything. I thankfully had a sandwich to get me through the night until the stores opened.
Some airports will have 24 hour stores, but where we were sleeping, it did not. Although we probably could have taken the air train to another gate to find food, we were pretty tired and not up for the adventure.
Even having something to snack on will make you feel that much better. It’s hard to fall asleep to a rumbling, angry stomach.
Do you have anymore tips for sleeping in an airport?
Top Photo Cred: Kayla Gray