All human life can be found in an airport – David Walliams.
An Airport is the home for the initial excitement of a holiday. It is where you wear your comfy gear, or your Sunday Best, or maybe even a brand new outfit because you are finally going somewhere out of the country. Maybe you’ve even thought about it for an entire year: that moment that you say goodbye – or see you later – to your current life and hello to a much needed break however long that might be. Airports are significant for saying hello and goodbye in more than one way and they are incredible places full of hopes and dreams.
Airports can also be a temporary home – a place of limbo – between connecting flights and your final destination. It is at this point that they become a lot less luxurious and a lot more like a hindrance. But that’s travel sometimes. It’s not always glamour, hotel poolsides or the perfect Instagram photo. Sometimes it’s a pain in the back, not showering for more than twenty-four hours and not getting enough sleep despite the jet lag.
But I’ve been through it, and I survived (yay!) so now I’m sharing my tips on how to survive 24 hours in the airport.
1. Plan purchases effectively, as in food and drink. It is way more expensive in an airport, because you’re pretty much stuck there and you’re not going to find a hot chocolate anywhere else so they can afford to bump up the prices. I paid $6.30 for my hot chocolate which came in a takeaway cup, without a spoon, in Perth Airport. That being said, I’m not going to refuse to pay and therefore starve because I need treats in terms of food and drinks if I’m stuck in one building for an entire day.
2. Make sure you charge everything beforehand. It’s a rookie mistake if not, aka like I did, and then the panic starts that there won’t be any plugs or your adapter is buried at the bottom of your big bag (even though it won’t be). After that, there’s finding a decent spot by a plug socket. Don’t fall for the first one you see, especially if it’s by a door that will permanently be open whilst you’re sat there; not worth the cold or the evils you would get from other airport prisoners/visitors.
3. When it comes to sleeping, find a row of four empty chairs, lie your backpack on two chairs and your hand luggage behind your head. People probably won’t steal from you – as at this point we’re all in the same position – but there’s no harm in being vigilant; you don’t know what anyone’s situation is. I tend to put my legs over my backpack – it’s as comfy as lying on hard chairs are going to get.
4. Make sure you keep the essentials handy like toothpaste and some sort of cleanser. I got my toothpaste taken off me at London Heathrow because it was over the standard size, despite only being a quarter full. Bear in mind I’d been carrying that toothpaste around Australia and nobody ever questioned it. TIP – Once you’re in Aus, they become way more slack with security for domestic flights. Wipes are also a good idea – didn’t have any of these either. And, FYI, I also forgot to buy and pack a new towel. You can imagine my lovely, long journey from clean Faye on Tuesday morning to scabby Faye on Thursday evening in Bali. Luckily, the hotels, hostels and Air BnBs here provide towels, so I didn’t need to actually pack one.
5. Bring lots of stuff to do. My best friend for the night became the £1 Ultimate Pocket Sudoku from The Works. It passes the time. Books are also a great way to melt away the hours, especially if you can’t sleep but really want to; reading definitely relaxes our brains and bodies.
6. Stay hydrated. It is so important. Believe me when I say you will feel slightly disgusting having stayed in the same clothes for more than 24 hours straight. I stayed in the same clothes from Tuesday morning until Thursday night, including all the time differences. Not nice. Drinking water at least makes you feel clean on the inside. Plus it will help balance any tummy irregularities you may be feeling too.
7. Pack a really warm jumper, even if you are heading to a hot country. Chances are, inside the airport, the air conditioning will be on, and if you are there overnight, the temperature will drop. Plus, when we sleep, our body temperature drops too. Unless you’re going to be really hot, or you have fire in your blood, chances are you won’t get a half decent sleep because you’re too cold.
8. Emotions may be running high, especially if, like me, you’ve already travelled thousands of miles to get to sit in that airport. Do what you have to do: let it out, cry, message loved ones back home. It is completely normal to feel that way which is just another part of travel life. Nobody ever raves about sleeping on hard airport chairs, or feeling sick because they haven’t had enough sleep, or simply going crazy looking at the same row of chairs for an entire day. That’s why it’s important not to panic – not to think you’ve made the completely wrong decision in coming to another place when all of your home comforts are on the other side of the world. It’s okay. You will be fine. And loving life again soon enough.
Remember that 24 hours is nothing in terms of an amazing journey, holiday or gap year. It will be worth it to get to that incredible destination.
What other tips do you have on airport stopovers? Have I missed anything? Or do you have any stories to share?
Love, Faye x