Producer’s note: Someone on Quora asked: What can you do when you are unexpectedly stuck in an airport overnight? Here is one of the best answers that’s been pulled from the thread. Thank you to the team at Quora for making this happen!
Sleep: If it is night time, honestly, the best thing you can do for yourself is to get a decent night of rest/sleep.
I’ve had the unfortunate knack for being stuck at airports over a dozen or so times during my life (each almost 10-12 hours plus of wait at the very minimum), so I have a few preparatory steps that make unexpected overnight stays at airports more bearable and accommodating.
- Always travel in comfortable clothes, ones in which you can sleep for 24-hours or so if required.
- Have wheels with your luggage.
- Clothing items should be as such, so that minimum ironing is required.
- I always carry a complete change of clothes with me in my carry-on. You never know. This includes socks & underwear.
- iPod. Enough said. It’s a lifesaver. Make sure you have some soothing music on it.
- Honestly, if you can, wear Roman Sandals (or other really comfortable footwear) without any metallic buckles, etc. and you can whizz past airport security fast.
- If you are travelling for over 12-18 hours (including layover), your goal is to find a hot shower. I cannot stress how rejuvenating one feels after it. It does wonders for the body aches and fatigue.
- Always research in advance if the airport(s) you will be travelling and/or transiting through have hotels, inns, sleep rooms, sleep lounges, etc. [Be sure to check if you would be allowed to leave the airport, depending on the country you are in, and/or passport you hold, valid for international travel]
- Find out if specific airline lounges in the airport are available. If so, check them out.
- Most lounges offer food, sleep, work areas. Most will allow you to enter the lounge (even if you are not flying with them), for a fees. Just plead and charm your way in – most people manning these lounges will sympathize with you and let you in.
- Chargers – take them with you, and a universal adapter.
- Always carry enough cash so as to factor in a cab ride back and forth, food, one-night at a reasonably priced hotel, and some ancillary money.
- A book and a magazine are great resources to have for passing time.
- Get to know if Wifi is available at the airport. Some airport lounges offer premium wifi.
- Avoid alcohol.
- It is a great investment to have a jacket (windbreaker or cardigan type), you just never know when you will be feeling cold in all that air conditioning or weather. They also double as great pillows to tuck under your head when sleeping on the benches / floor, etc.
- Always carry bags (carry on and check-in) that are sturdy and secure enough, so that if you nap, you are not worried.
- Important contacts & emergency – Write them down on pen and paper (you remember pen and paper don’t you?)
- If you can afford and have one, an extra (fully charged) simple cell phone (you can load it with another regional/local SIM) or have one in case your smart phone, etc. gets stolen.
- Never keep your ID in your wallet and your wallet in your bag. Keep your ID separate and on you at all time.
- Sleeping Eye-Patch and ear buds (trust me, you want this).
- Also make sure you pack one of each: a pen, a few stick-on notes, a hair-brush/comb, mint chewing gum, a bottle of water (not easy to find water when you need it and don’t want to walk miles in the terminal), a chocolate bar (or something to get your sugar levels up and nutritionally up and running), travel tooth-brush/paste, spare eye-glasses (prescription), wet tissues (small pack) and some regular Kleenex.
I manage to put all the physical items listed above in a regular backpack. It is light, convenient and won’t wear you down, and still has space to put in a few items (sometimes if I want to, I can even fit my laptop in it)
On how to kill time, well, there are literally 100s of ways to entertain yourself. The number one method is to watch movies or something on your computer. There is only so much chatting/texting you can do on your phone or tablet. Soon enough, the battery becomes an issue and your hands/fingers will get tired.
A book is a great way to short-circuit a couple of hours. Talk to people, roam about (it gets you a bit of exercise as well). Sitting in one place all throughout the night, etc. makes you stiff – only to find out that in your morning flight, you will be sitting in the plane in more confined space. So move around. Do a bit of window shopping (if available). Get some fresh air if you can.