Your Flight Leaves at 6 AM and You’re On a Budget: How to Spend the Night in the Airport Like a Pro


Chances are pretty high that on your next big backpacking adventure around Europe you will probably try and cut costs by scheduling flights that either arrive at your destination very late in the evening or are the first ones out the next day. Not only will you save money by taking the cheapest flight to your destination, you will also save money because you won’t have to spend the night in a hostel or motel, nor will you have to pay exorbitant taxi fees because public transportation is shut down for the night (and even if it’s not, your mere appearance screams “FOREIGNER-I AM VULNERABLE,” so it’s probably worth avoiding). Since my family resides in San Diego but I studied and subsequently worked in Boston, I have made more cross-country 6 hour flights than I can count. Most of the time I usually slept overnight in Boston’s airport before taking the first flight out, so I have a few ideas on how to make the most of your night in the airport.

Make a Tent, a Luggage Fort, or Something Else Cool to Sleep In.
Even after hours, airports, train stations, and bus depots keep their lights on, which means that sleep is going to be hard to come by. All you need to create a makeshift tent and dim things down a bit is a sheet, a large towel, or even a jacket. Find a bench or a couple of stanchions (those poles that tether together to create a queue) and drape it over. Voila! You have a tent! If you have a particularly big backpack, use it to create a cozy nook for yourself. And for extra points, you can always bring a hammock.

Take a Long Walk.
Even though an airport terminal might seem like nothing more than a shopping mall with airplanes parked around it, you never know who or what you might see in the middle of the night. I once saw the proverbial fat police officer order three donuts from a Dunkin Donuts in Boston’s airport…after midnight. And after you finish your long walk, you’ll probably be able to get some sleep.

Bring Food.
Chances are, you’re probably going to be hungry at some point, and the only thing worse than being stuck in an airport for the night is being stuck and hungry to boot. While there are occasionally venues (like the aforementioned Dunkin Donuts) that offer food at just about any hour, you are guaranteed to overpay for whatever sad morsel of food you purchase. Before you show up at the airport, take 10 minutes to hit up the local grocery store.

Catch Up on Stuff You’ve Put Off.
If you’ve been on the road for a while, I bet there are a hundred things you have postponed because you’ve been too busy having a good time travelling. Upload your photos onto Facebook/Flickr/Imgur/whatever. Write a new blog posting, because the one from two weeks ago is starting to smell. If you have an entire season of your favorite show that you ABSOLUTELY CANNOT MISS sitting in your Netflix queue (and assuming you’re in a country where you can watch it), start streaming. And if you have family and friends on the other side of the world who miss you a lot, maybe log into Google Chat and actually show them your haggard, travel worn face. They’ll be delighted to see it.

I hope that you find these tips to be useful, and the next time you find yourself in an airport for the night, it’s more restful (and exciting) than you thought it could be. If you’d like some more ideas then I highly recommend checking out When you find yourself staying overnight in an airport, what do you do to make it more comfortable?

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2 thoughts on “Your Flight Leaves at 6 AM and You’re On a Budget: How to Spend the Night in the Airport Like a Pro

  1. Totally agree to all this! Only thing worth buying in an airport was this one bagel pizza thing @ 4am @ Charlotte airport… beyond epic

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