How to Survive an Overnight Stay in an Airport

By  Kathy Trithardt February 14, 2011

You've made it to the major city where you have to lay over before boarding for your destination.

You are pumped, and even though you haven't slept in 20 hours, the adrenaline has transformed you into a toddler on pixie sticks. As you are triple-checking the gate from which your flight is leaving, you see those bold, flashing letters that make your eyes pop and your stomach drop: DELAYED. With the other 70 passengers who were ready to go, you harass the poor folks at the counter and find that you will be grounded until tomorrow. That's just great. It's 4 p.m. You are cranky, you want your adventure to begin and you realize you've eaten the last of the complimentary cookies you snagged from the sleeping dude on the last flight. The airport hotel is not in your budget, so you elect to camp out at the gate in the hopes that it will make the departure happen sooner (it doesn't, but at least it will be harder to miss the flight, though not impossible). You now have two options: be miserable, or have an airport-entrapped adventure.

Because you are awesome: option two. 

Step One: Barricade your belongings. A carry-on feels like a much bigger burden when you are stuck with it for a long time, but you need to keep it. I prefer to adopt a "bag lady" approach, giving children and older folks The Crazy Eye when they look to my territory. That will keep them away, and it also leaves the space next to me open for someone attractive to come my way. They'll want to join my baggage fort and have an exotic accent.

Step Two: Mischief or sleep. If you are wide awake after slamming energy drinks, you will want to put that vigor to hilarious use. Sneak around people like you are trying to avoid detection by an imaginary police force. Invent a new form of fitness involving extra shoe laces and upended chairs. Finish the lyrics to that song you've been thinking about since last May. Just be sure that at least one other person is amused by your antics. Of course, if your airport doesn't have caffeine, tie your stuff to your body with those shoe laces and sleep. You will need it to catch up on your adventures at your destination tomorrow (with your belongings, which are harder to steal if they are tied to your person).

Step Three: Trade names with at least three random people. Chances are they have a story about where they've come from and why they are flying. It might be beneficial to have connections with a 57-year-old distillery worker if you ever travel to their homeland. Brighten their day; they didn't ask for the delay, either. And if they did, I'm sure it's because they are lonely and wanted someone with whom to trade stories. You never know what good will come of it, so toss aside your delay annoyance and build a fort, make some friends and don't eat too much junk from the vending machines. 

*This article is the winning submission from The Verge Storyboard for the week of Feb. 14, 2011. Click here to check out the board and submit your own story!

Add this article to your reading list
Published in Storyboard
Tagged under

Join the Verge Community

Verge Magazine Membership

Join our community of savvy travellers and put nearly two decades of inspiring articles, authoritative information and expert advice to work for you.

Show me more > Login >


Travel Intelligence Bulletin


The latest openings overseas—direct to your inbox.

Subscriber Login


Travel with purpose; travel for good. Articles, resources and events for ethical and meaningful travel, volunteering, working and studying abroad.

Verge believes in travel for change. International experience creates global citizens, who can change our planet for the better. This belief is at the core of everything we do.

Like what you see?

Follow us on social media