There may come a time in any travellers life that the perfect travel day just is not possible and you may have an overnight layover or a super long layover at an airport. Perhaps you left booking too late, there were no good flight connections, you had to book with different airlines or it’s not a major flight route. Whatever your reason, you are here, reading this post. You have a decision to make. This day has come for us on a few occasions. Each of these experiences were very different, but one option meant that we got to our destination fresh and jet lag free. So here are our tips for the overnight layover…
Overnight Layover Definition
Overnight: For the duration of a night.
Layover: A period of rest or wait before a further stage in a journey.
Overnight Layover: Waiting for the duration of the night before a further stage in a journey.
What Are Your Best Options And Alternatives For An Overnight Layover
Ok, so if you’re considering booking flights with an overnight layover, you still have some alternate options.
Firstly, don’t do it. Kidding. Well, kind of. If there is a way you can avoid the overnight layover, it will obviously make your holiday that little bit better. Check all flight options with different airlines, search different dates if possible, even search different flight paths. Once you’ve done all that and it looks like an overnight layover is inevitable, try these options next…
If it works, make it a Stopover, rather than an overnight layover. Stay in the ‘layover destination’ and make it part of your trip. When you are booking flights and if the destination you have to layover in interests you, make it part of your trip. Spend a few days there. This may not be an option or a first choice but consider it. I would say a two-night minimum to make the most of it.
If this doesn’t appeal to you or look possible either, then you may just have to book your flights with the overnight layover. But this doesn’t mean it has to be horrible. You have a few choices here. Having experienced a few overnight layovers and doing them all differently, we can safely say that our absolute first choice is definitely to stay in a transit hotel if possible. Another option is to sleep in the airport terminal. Sometimes they may have sleeping chairs or pods, sometimes it’s just about working with what you’ve got and being creative.
Airport Hotel Vs Sleeping In Airport Terminals
If you are deciding whether to book into an airport hotel or sleep in the airport chairs or rest areas please read on. Some airports are more setup than others and some do not have airport transit hotels at all within the terminal (only on the outside and public side of the airport). Some airports, on the other hand, are well prepared for travellers spending the whole night sleeping, with sleeper and relax chairs and 24 hour food. It is truly dependent on the airport in question. A good place to start when it comes to sleeping in airports and planning an overnight layover is SleepingInAirports.net.
After deciding to save our dollars and spending a horrendously uncomfortable night sleeping at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on metal chairs, feeling the jet lag effects for days, we never wanted to do that again. So this year when we were in Singapore, faced with the same decision, we booked into an Airport Hotel in Singapore, within the transit area of Changi Airport. When affordable this will be our option from now on.
Pay For An Airport Transit Hotel For Your Overnight Layover
A proper shower and bed. Perhaps a pool. Business Centres with snacks are great after you ‘check-out’ to still enjoy the quiet setting, maybe even with coffee and snacks. Check-in, sleep, wake up, have a shower and leave fresh. As soon as you walk through the airport and see a tired soul that slept in the terminal, you will justify any cost away. If the price is right, this is our pick for an overnight layover and sleeping in airports.
It will cost you and you may only be able to buy a block of hours (this may be a pro too). In Singapore, we paid for 6 hours, as they came in 6 hour blocks. Not exactly a full night sleep. If your airport hotel choices are expensive or you can’t get to sleep, you might wish you saved your money and had that extra cash to spend on your trip or on something more important to you.
Sleeping in Airports In The Terminal On Your Overnight Layover
It’s free. Some airports may be well set up for overnight layovers, with comfy chairs or sleeper chairs. It is an experience (not always 100% positive but some of the most memorable experiences are often more of an adventure).
It’s uncomfortable, usually. The best chairs and areas fill up quickly. If you miss out on these then you are in for a long night (speaking from experience). I know you are in a secure place, and there are always security patrols at night, but I can’t truly get to sleep whilst worrying about my belongings. Not all terminals or airports have 24 food outlets. Most shops shut overnight too.
How To Decide?
It may not seem like a big decision but it could be. If you have a super long travel period and only a short trip, you may take days to recover from a mammoth travel leg. It may seem worth what you save, and it may be worth it. But it also may not be. If you decide to sleep in the airport terminal on your overnight layover, here are our top tips to make this slightly better…
15 Tips For Spending The Night In The Airport
- Research the airports rest areas and sleep areas. There may be nothing in your terminal, but for a little sleep, it may be worth an adventure to the next terminal.
- Once you know where to go, head straight to the rest area when you arrive. This may be crucial, the best spots are always highly desired no matter what the airport.
- Besides from airports that have some 24-hour food outlets, the majority of shops shut overnight. Have some snacks and supplies if you get the nighttime nibbles.
- Sleep to the timezone of your end destination, so when you arrive you are almost time adjusted to the local time. This may even mean staying up all night at the airport and sleeping on your flight. So what to do in an airport overnight if you’re not sleeping? Well, that will entirely depend on the airport, but if you’re lucky, there may be some 24 hour food establishments open or even a 24 hour movie cinema (hello Changi Airport!).
- Set an alarm. You do not want to spend hours and hours waiting for your connecting flight to miss it.
- Try to always keep your phone charged. This may mean the difference between that alarm you just set going off. Also, you may need to access your e-tickets or directions to your hotel once you arrive.
- Some airports are bright at night, think about bringing an eye mask.
- Airports can be cold. Have a spare jumper.
- Keep your belongings and valuables safe. Every sleeping scenario and airport is different. Pay for luggage storage if it’s available. Alternatively, keep your stuff connected and locked. Don’t make it easy for someone to take anything quickly. Sleep with your arm or leg through your backpack straps, or wedged between a chair and a wall. Improvise.
- If possible, stay in the international transit area of the airport. Generally, the plane side and international area of an airport have more facilities, is nicer and more secure to sleep than the public side and domestic areas of an airport. This may be impacted by whether or not you have checked luggage or whether or not you need to collect and re-check-in your luggage.
- Know what is happing with your luggage. We try to pack light and fly carry-on only as much as we can. This allows you to stay in transit and still have all your stuff. If you do check luggage, find out what you need to do. It may be able to be forwarded on to your next flight or you may need to exit, collect your luggage and re-check-in for your next flight if flying with a different airline.
- Some time will go slow, but some hours will fly! Don’t get caught out. Leave enough time to get from where you sleep to where you need to fly. Watch your time and be careful with timezone changes. Wearing a watch is a perfect, just adjust it to the local time whenever you change places. This way you don’t need to worry if you phone time automatically adjusted when you signed into the wifi or not, you can check your watch ;).
- You may need to go through immigration. Remember! Chances are you should be able to do this in international transit (if you did not on your first flight) but ask your airline first or ask as soon as an information desk is open.
- Know how to get your boarding passes or find out how. If you are in transit and using a different airline than the initial flight, know how to get a boarding pass. We have found you should be able to do this at the boarding gate desk or airline desk. Just get there as soon as they announce the gate and show your documents or online check-in boarding pass.
- Go for a walk. If you are in an airport for a long time, it can get stale and uncomfortable. Go for a walk and get your limbs moving again and your circulation happening.
These are 15 tips to spending the night in the airport. If you do have an overnight layover and will be spending the night at the airport, remember your options. You can stay in an airport hotel both within transit or on the public side, you could sleep or rest in the airport terminal itself. Out of these choices, we would recommend an airport transit hotel when affordable and available. Alternatively, you could stay a few nights in the city you layover in, make it a part of your trip and get a later flight another day.