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Planning for the worst: 6 items to bring for sleeping in the airport

Aug. 07, 2021
7 min read
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Travel's back in full swing, but it's made even more complicated than ever thanks to summer storms and growing concerns over the delta variant.

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This past June, I jumped on the opportunity to solo travel through Italy and Greece as soon as most of Europe reopened to vaccinated tourists. This was the first time I left the U.S. for an extended period since the start of the pandemic. After a year of no travel, we're all rusty, so I made sure to heed all the warnings and prepare for the worst. This is not only necessary as we navigate this new age of travel, but also as a solo female traveler abroad, I wanted to be extra cautious.

Surely enough, one thing led to another, and a slew of canceled (and rebooked) flights brought me to my fate that I would be sleeping on the concrete floor in the Vienna Airport on a lovely Sunday evening. Looking back, it could have been much worse since I had all the necessary items to make my sleep not totally horrendous.

Inspired by this recent Instagram post by TSA, I felt compelled to write this post in case you don't own one of these handy hammocks.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by TSA (@tsa)

(Full disclaimer: I actually own an Eno DoubleNest hammock, but I never thought to pitch mine at the airport. Huge applause for the creativity, and I will now throw my Eno in my suitcase moving forward.)

I'm a minimalist by nature, so I stay away from overpacking and try to bring everything in a carry-on whenever possible. I don't like bringing items if I'm going to only use them in a "what-if" scenario. Fortunately, the items on my list are multipurpose, meaning they'll serve you well outside of the off-chance you'll have to sleep in an airport.

Beach towel

(Photo courtesy of Amazon)

I usually don't bring a beach towel on vacations, especially if I'm staying in a resort where towels are aplenty (and this is usually one less thing you get to pack in your bag.) But, I've learned over the years that it never hurts to pack a beach towel, so you don't have to lay down on the bare floor.

Pro tip: If you're lucky and score poor man's business class as I did on my flight home from Athens, you can also use this as an extra blanket onboard. Win, win.

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Sweatshirt

(Screenshot courtesy of The Points Guy).

Yes, it's the dead of summer, but bringing a comfortable long-sleeve of some sort is necessary. Chances are, you already bring one as it's usually chilly on the plane.

It's hard to pick just one from my hoodie collection. Call me biased, but the TPG hoodies are pretty great if you're looking to add one to your wardrobe.

Neck pillow

(Screenshot courtesy of Muji)

Not all neck pillows are built the same. I especially like mine from Muji since it's not as rigid as your standard neck pillow and unclips if you want to stretch it out. It offers enough support for resting your head on the cold, concrete floor. But it's also a pretty great neck pillow to bring with you on all your travels, no matter if you're on a plane or train.

AirPods pros

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

AirPods Pros, or any noise cancellation headphones, are an absolute must. In a normal situation, you can listen to your favorite music, podcasts and movies, all while drowning out any background noise.

In short, my AirPods Pros saved the day. I was surrounded by a handful of other travelers who were also stranded, and while I didn't necessarily mind sleeping next to strangers that evening, a few of them were heavy snorers. Although I was exhausted, I could not fall asleep to the tune of snoring.

However, I didn't want to use earplugs as I was terrified I'd miss my 6 a.m. flight. Thankfully, throwing on my AirPods Pros and some brown noise helped me fall asleep almost instantly.

Eyemask

(Photo by The Points Guy)

We have the traditional face mask we all need to wear while flying nowadays, but the eyemask is just as important in my book. In addition to the concrete floor, the jarring fluorescent lighting prevented me from getting the hours of sleep I so desperately needed.

Eyemasks are essential on any trip since they can help you fall asleep faster and get rid of unwanted jet lag quickly.

Fanny pack

(Photo courtesy of Saks Fifth Avenue)

Dare I say that fanny packs are coming back in style? Not only are they trendy, but they're incredibly useful. While sleeping on airport floors is rather uncomfortable, you also have to worry about safety, especially as a solo traveler. I slept on the airport floor with my fanny pack on, carrying some of my most important items (passport, vaccination card, phone).

Mine is from Lululemon, and I like that it comes with multiple pockets, is washable and is surprisingly affordable.

Bottom line

Putting it all together for my four-hour sleep at the Vienna Airport. (Photo by Stella Shon/The Points Guy)

There you have it. As much as we love talking about first-class lounges and lie-flat seats here at The Points Guy, the reality is, travel isn't always this glamorous. Make sure that you have these six items in your bag next time you go on a trip where delays or cancellations seem likely.

Featured image by (Photo by Jay Wen via Unsplash)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG featured card

Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 10X points
10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

80,000 bonus points
Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more