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?
Ugh, sleeping in airports, yes, I have had to do this at the Amsterdam Airport. It wasn’t too bad but it was a looong night!
It’s not fun! Although, Amsterdam’s airport is amazing – it would be the one I’d choose to spend a night in, if I had to do this again.
I know I had it lucky compared to other airports to have to sleep in out there! 🙂
I’ve slept in London Luton (which was FREEZING in November with the revolving door nearby constantly turning) and Madrid Barajas (which actually wasn’t too bad). Both were for early morning flights where between transportation hassles and the cost of a hostel for a few hours made it worth it. It’s kind of frightening, but it definitely helps that there are other people doing it too.
That’s too bad about Madrid! There are early morning trains that take you to the airport, sometimes starting at 5am (or a bit earlier depending on the station). London, I imagine, would be more of a nightmare to get to at an inconvenient hour.
The good thing about Madrid is that it’s really safe. London is a bit less so, but it’s a public space. As you said – other people do it, and there’s usually security around. The part of the Paris airport I was in had guards walking around all night.
The issue with Madrid was that I was starting in Salamanca (the city 2 hours away, not the Madrid neighborhood), and the only bus/train I could take got to Madrid around 1am. London actually had a bus that ran every hour, 24 hours a day, but my flight was so early that staying in a hostel didn’t make sense.
I felt VERY safe in Madrid (and safe enough in London), though I’d like to avoid doing it again if I can help it.
Ah, I see. That makes more sense. I forgot about the Luton shuttle system – I think it’s the one that’s best connected with that if I’m not mistaken (I’ve only flown through Luton and Heathrow, don’t know as much about Gatwick). Thankfully you got through it!
I’ve slept at the airport in Bangkok. It was my first time travelling abroad. It was really cold. I felt lost.
First time abroad! Now, that’s incredibly brave.
thanks. that was 4 years ago. i was still 21 then. my flight back home was at 6:00 AM.. I haven’t traveled overseas since then..
Due to that experience? I hope it wasn’t that bad!
I have slept in Pisa airport. The only downside was that it closed for 3 hours during the night but it was in the middle of summer and there were loads of other people there, so I felt safe. My flight was at 6am so there wasn’t any point for me to pay €45 to sleep in a hotel room for a few hours.
Those early morning flights are the worst! What did you do while it was closed?
There were seats outside. I sat and spoke to people. There was people playing football too. It wasn’t too bad
Once I slept in Gatwick airport parking lot in car because my flight was delayed and I have not left with any option to sleep there as at departures there was too much hustle bustle of passengers and i was not feeling well. I parked my car there and slept for hours , it was a peaceful experience.
Hey! We are planing to do the same for (as luck would have it) 7 am flight from CDG. Would really appreciate some tips. We are booked at a hotel near St. Michel station Latin square, but don’t want to spend on an extra night. At what time would you suggest we leave for the airport? And some tips about which corner to head for to sneak in nap:).
Hey, you don’t have to sneak in – security is well-aware that some people have to sleep there! I suggest getting there by 11pm because I believe most terminals close around 11 or midnight. I would suggest going to the terminal area you’re going to fly out of!
I am also going to sleep at CDG on 1st Nov. 2015 which I feel will not be a problem. I will catch the last RER B from Gare Du Nord leaving at 12.15 night which will reach CDG at 1 am. My AirFrance flight from Paris to Rome is at 7.15 am on 1st Nov. Considering 2 to 3 hours check-in time, they may allow me to enter at 4 am. So, I am thinking of hanging around between 1 am and 4 am.
Any comments or suggestions are welcome.