Have you ever missed a flight, had a canceled connection, or somehow – anyhow – ended up sleeping in an airport?
It’s not the most unusual thing to happen to any traveler. Whether you spend your every weekend on the road, or take a trip once a year, you could find yourself in this situation. I’ve spent several hours in airports over the years – far too many, if you ask me – but despite my travels alone, my night in Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport was a new experience for me.
Paris is one of those destinations that still haunts me. It’s one of the world’s greatest cities, but also one of its most expensive destinations for the young traveler. The entire trip was tainted for me, with my budget constantly on my mind. As someone who can’t – or doesn’t want to – hand over hundreds of euros for a night of luxury, I decided to forgo any nearby hotels the night before my 7 am flight. While it’s not something I mind doing, I chose not to disclose this to too many loved ones. After all, traveling alone is dangerous, right?
The night I spent in CDG ended up being surprisingly boring for it being an adventurous proposition (on paper). Though it seemed odd, to me, to arrive at the airport alone, I definitely wasn’t alone. One quick look around confirmed this for me – several other young travelers were there, also alone, trying to sneak in a nap before their morning flights. I never expected to feel as secure as I did, nor to spend my night next to another young female traveler.
While I would have preferred leaving Paris at a decent hour, it wasn’t in the cards for me. Of all the cities I’ve been to, Paris has the most inconvenient system set in place for those traveling to and from the airport. Not only is it (sometimes) 10x more expensive to do so than in other European cities, the option to do so is only for daylight hours. This means that if you have an early morning flight, you’re out of luck – there’s no train or metro (or even shuttle bus) for you! In addition, Madrid isn’t the most well-connected major city in Europe, thus meaning good flights are harder to come by should you be less willing to spend a lot of money. And, well, I wasn’t going to double the price of my flight to make it easier. Was it horrible? Not quite. Did I sleep? Barely. Would I do it again? If I had to.
In the end, this experience has taught me something. Some travelers value comfort above all – I don’t. Some travelers value a strictly tourist experience – I definitely don’t, hence why I chose to live in a foreign country. Your travels often aren’t as glamorous as they may seem, but that doesn’t make them any less rewarding. I plan on making this upcoming year a little less damaging on me, but I don’t regret my ever so slightly painful night in Paris.
Have you ever done this? Would you?