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Sleeping in an Airport on a Budget

Sleeping in an Airport on a Budget

Old Aug 28, 12, 12:50 pm
  #1  
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Sleeping in an Airport on a Budget

So in October I'll be traveling to Jamaica and the flight from DCA leaves around 6AM. Unfortunately I doubt I'll be able to find someone willing to drive me at 3-4AM in the morning on a Thursday, so I am considering sleeping outside DCA the night before(will take the metro there the night before) to save money on a cab.

Unfortunately I don't have any air mattresses or very much stuff to keep me busy.

I've read sleepinginairports.net pretty much back to front but it didn't really go into very much detail and also I am curious if any of you have slept in an airport and what your preferred accommodations(air mattresses, sleeping bags, etc) are?

There is a 24/7 dunkin donuts so at least I'll have a bathroom I can use. I was a little bummed to find out the airport lounges aren't open until 7am for the most part, which means no hanging out in there drinking... You'd think an airport like DCA would be a 24/7 hub but I guess there aren't that many late night flights.

Thoughts, comments, is sleeping outside of DCA a bad idea? Any low budget items you can recommend to make it a lot more comfortable or amusing?

I'll be traveling by myself and will be packing pretty light,and I will hide my wallet and personal stuff like cell phone really well and use it as a pillow.
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Old Aug 28, 12, 2:01 pm
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Where are you staying? Are you on a domestic flight out of DCA? For a 6am domestic, I don't think you'd need to be there before 5am--security is fast and it's not so busy that early in the morning.
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Old Aug 28, 12, 2:49 pm
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I've done a couple of outrageously low MRs out of DCA where I have taken Megabus down from NYC and then the Metro from Union Station to DCA arriving around 2:30AM. Since my flights were at 6AM or so getting a hotel room for a couple hours was not worth it. I stretched out on the chairs on the lower level and yes the Dunkin Donuts is open all night. But like all airports the heavy cleaning gets done at night so do not expect any real sleep. The couple of times I've done it believe it or not DCA was full of people overnight.

IIRC the concourses open around 4:30AM. The AA AC opens at 5AM, not sure about the other clubs.
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Old Aug 28, 12, 5:43 pm
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Sleeping in airports alone probably isn't the greatest idea. Like newyorkgeorge, I usually stay up. Usually I bring some reading materials, etc to keep me occupied. For the most part, no one hassles you about being there overnight. They see it almost every night.

That said, I certainly have seen people with sleeping bags, the whole nine yards. But generally the best thing to do is read sleepinginairports.net and find out where there are seats without dividers. Then you can actually lay down a little bit rather than sitting uncomfortably.

Why do you say "sleeping outside" DCA? The terminal should be open 24/7.
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Old Aug 28, 12, 6:18 pm
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Originally Posted by davewill View Post
Why do you say "sleeping outside" DCA? The terminal should be open 24/7.
I should have clarified but I mean outside the secure area, If I read the reviews correctly they don't let people sleep in the secured area past midnight.

I actually live in the DC area but the metro doesn't open until 6 so I can't metro in and as a city person I don't have a car.

Rather than take a cab or get someone to drop me off extremely early I figure I'll just urban camp overnight.

Is it worth it to get an inflatable pool raft and sleep on that or will the cleaning people give me too much hassle?

I was thinking of getting a pool raft for the beach/pool for where I'm going so that might beat a sleeping bag.

I figure a master lock+chain and I can secure my stuff to me/the bench closest to me, anyone trying to cut it would wake me up...

Any other ideas would be greatly appreciated, I figure I save at least $50 by not taking a cab in the morning and also because the cabs around here are super unreliable.

Is it odd that I'm looking forward to sleeping in an airport?
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Old Aug 28, 12, 6:33 pm
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Originally Posted by serioustraveler View Post
Is it odd that I'm looking forward to sleeping in an airport?
Not sure, but it sure brings into question your handle

And the reason for no flights at night is because where the airport is located.

Suppose you could buy one of those $10 air mattresses and hide it somewhere before you fly and hope no one finds it until you come back.

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Old Aug 28, 12, 7:05 pm
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Sleeping at the airports is kind of OK if you are prepared. Be prepared to sleep on the floor (normally the least unconfortable place to sleep). At some airports you might have to show your ticket to security. Always do some research in advance (read sleepingairports.net etc) and don't forget to check that the airport is open during the time. Of course this time you don't have this problem but you never know where you end up the next time... If planning to sleep at the airports in future, buying a light blanket might be a good idea. Much easier to carry than a mattress.
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Old Aug 29, 12, 4:10 am
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I did it only once at Madrid (in the dodgy old terminals), and would probably never do it again.

I eventually found some seats to sleep on in a quiet area of the airport, and then put my arm through the straps of my backpack and then under my head (if that makes sense) for security, so that essentially it would tug at me if anyone tried to take something....
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Old Aug 29, 12, 12:24 pm
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Not sure where you live that you are urban enough to not need a car but a cab to DCA is $50 (ftr, I am in NWDC and carless, a cab would cost me around $20-25); but anyway, have you checked supershuttle? Shared ride from my place runs $14 one way.
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Old Aug 29, 12, 5:16 pm
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I've slept in a couple airports before and I'm not sure I would recommend it to you because you are asking about an air mattress. If you want to be comfortable or get a good night sleep, forget it. The only reason I would do it is if saving money is more important to you than sleeping. Since you are going to Jamaica, just bring a beach towel to lay on the floor and use a swim wrap to cover you. Don't expect to sleep unless you are the type that can sleep through anything. Ever if there aren't many other travelers sleeping (there are always a few), you've got the cleaning staff, security, etc. Nobody ever hassled us but we were always exhausted the next day.
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Old Aug 30, 12, 3:13 pm
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Somehow, I was able to sleep in a bathroom stall (in HKG)- I rested my head on the roller suitcase and set an alarm clock next to my ear. Not a fun night, but it worked. I've slept in other airports too...scratch that, I've spent the NIGHT in other airports too, but none were quite as small as DCA. In fact, when I was doing this in BOS last year, I relied on a 24-hour Dunkin' Donuts for entertainment. If you really need to sleep, find the "quietest" stall in the airport and do it well.
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Old Aug 30, 12, 6:26 pm
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I actually live in the DC area but the metro doesn't open until 6 so I can't metro in and as a city person I don't have a car.
This is the exact reason to sleep in an airport. I agree with other posters though that the air mattress is a tad extreme.
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Old Aug 30, 12, 6:34 pm
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You want to spend the night in the airport on purpose?

Personally, I think you are somewhat crazy to want to spend the night in the airport on purpose. I did this once on accident when I misread the time my flight was leaving, and it wasn't as terrible as it could have been, but sleeping is difficult. The main issues are light and noise. They obviously leave the lights on in airports all night, and the cleaning staff vacuums at night. If you do actually do it, I highly recommend going all out and bringing a tent and air matress to make things less horrible.
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Old Aug 31, 12, 1:27 pm
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Bring ear plugs or noise cancelling headphones to help drown out the night shift cleaners. Floor is pretty standard for most comfortable, I usually look for a carpeted area cause that's about as good as it will get. In airports like DIA, you have the advantage of sleeping between the two sets of doors diving the drop off area and ticketing counters (though you may need that sleeping bag in the winter). Just expect to sleep on the flight and be groggy on arrival.
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Old Aug 31, 12, 5:54 pm
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I can understand wanting to save a buck, but if you are going to 'slum' it I don't see why you'd bring an air mattress, etc. If 'quality' sleep is that important to you, spend the extra few bucks and sleep in your own bed!

I do have a good example of a lock you can use while sleeping at the airport, these wire locks are light and simple and you canloop them through zippers, etc to really secure your stuff. There are some slightly cheaper models out there too

http://preparedness.com/lewnclartrav.html
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