How to sleep in airports

In 2006, I had an early morning  flight from London Luton Airport to Croatia. Luton is actually located an hour out of London, and trains reaching the airport commenced their daily service at around 6am; thus, I had to spend a night in the airport in order to check-in on time.

I arrived in Luton the night before and circled the miniature airport briskly. All the strategic locations had already been taken: airport lounge seating, dark corners and most shop fronts. People were using their baggage as bedding and some had made makeshift blankets from clothes. We were the transient.

I found a free corner next to a pylon in the check-in hall, between an old woman, who was continually applying lip balm, and two men who were spooning under the cover of a sleeping bag. I lay down in front of the shut security gates of one of those over-priced airport convenience stores.

The hall was sedate and quiet. The only noise to be heard was that of lip balm sliding over wrinkled lips, the rustle of a sleeping bag over the gyrations of two groins, and the beeping of an answering machine from within the shop behind me. I used some clothes as a cushion and my jumper as my pillow, and I slept. I dreamt that people were constantly walking past me, nearly stepping and falling on me. I woke to find that it wasn't a dream; the terminal was full of people dodging past me.

When I got up I had a sore back, a sore hip and a pain in my butt - there's nothing like spending a night on the floor of an airport to maim the glory of travel. I usually feel hungry without adequate sleep - not for food, but more for sleep. I could have slept a horse after that night.

What is the moral of this story? Use an air mattress.

I use a Therma-a-Rest mattress. It's very compact, self-inflating, insulated and light-weight (only 460 grams). And it has a lifetime warranty. I'd like to say it's worth its weight in gold but for $24,800 I'd sleep on the floor again.