“If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him!” (an old Zen saying)
In between tearing my home apart (it somewhat resembles a dignified, civil, living habitat again) and administering placement tests to incoming college students at work, I’ve been struggling to rope in needless spending in order to gain a stronger financial foothold.
However, I’ve been severely bitten by the travel bug again. As any free spirit knows, this sort of itch is notoriously unrelenting. My former destinations have been scattered throughout Scandinavia and Western and Southern Europe. And now the Orient beckons.
I feel it would be totally rad to backpack through Cambodia and Thailand for a month.
While researching into the costs of such an epic journey, I stumbled across a website that kept me in stitches last night. A must-read for any seasoned backpacker / traveler, I present the nifty Budget Traveller’s Guide to Sleeping in Airports.
(For my American friends, note the two l’s in ‘traveller’ is not a typo. The rest of the English-speaking world spells it that way too).
Oh yes, I’ve slept in an airport
I had my own err…pleasant experience of sleeping in an airport in 2004 while taking a delayed inbound flight from London back into the States. I was lodging with a friend in London whose flatmate instructed me to call a taxi since we needed to drag all of my crap from their flat to the Heathrow Airport.
And being that I had been traveling throughout Europe for over four years, I unfortunately had a ton of (extremely heavy) crap stuff in tow.
Not only did a little black cab sputter up the cobblestone driveway 45 minutes late but we got stuck in a horrendous traffic jam in the middle of downtown London. Sitting in a taxi for nearly two and a half hours is not fun, especially when your flight is scheduled to leave in less than two hours.
The driver at least enjoyed himself as he delightedly kept a keen eye on his ticking meter. He twisted around to face me, whistling.
“Don’t know if you’re going to make that flight there, love.”
“I know,” I hissed through clenched teeth.
By the time I arrived to Heathrow three hours later, I had missed my departing flight home and the best they could do was reschedule me on the next outbound flight to Newark, New Jersey. Once I arrived in Newark, I’d be taking a connecting flight to my hometown.
Or so I thought.
Adventures in Newark
I arrived in Newark somewhat past midnight. Little did I know there would be no more arrivals or departures until 7 in the morning, meaning there was a good six hours to kill before I could get out of there. The gift shops, newsstands, food areas, everything with any semblance to sane civilization was shut down and closed. Not the most comfortable of situations.
If you’ve never experienced a crusty airport like Newark in the dead of night, think barren, dimly lit and spooky as hell. The whole freaking place was deserted.
I picked up my four enormous pieces of luggage, panted and dragged them into a quiet corner and assembled them into a make-shift bed to snuggle on top of. I then sprawled out Vitruvian-man style (a leg on one, an arm on another…)
If any of the homeless stragglers hanging around tried to snatch something, I figured it would jolt me awake in time to attempt a trusty ol’ karate kick on their ass.
Security was nowhere to be found.
My eyes fluttered shut in an innocent attempt at rest. Usually I’m in a coma once asleep, but this night I was on high alert. Every whisper of a noise made my eyes immediately snap open and dart suspiciously around. A few questionable characters lumbered nearby as I mustered my bravest don’t-mess-with-me face.
Two finally approached asking for money. I sat up, feigned ignorance and began spewing aggressive Danish while trying to look as unstable as possible.
Like a lunatic, I sputtered something totally random like, “Du må ikke røre mig der!” (You may not touch me there!) and “Hvor er værtshuset!?” (Where’s the bar!?)
I breathed a sigh of relief as they eventually gave up and slinked away from the crazy girl they couldn’t understand.
I also began to wonder if it might be wisest to drag my entire luggage into a bathroom area and shut myself into a stall. But after examining the cleanliness of the surrounding chairs and carpet, the thought of what condition the bathrooms might reveal made my stomach feel queasy.
At least security didn’t bother me all night.
Oh right, because they weren’t around.
I barely conquered an ounce of sleep so it wasn’t a problem ’waking up’ to scurry onto the first departing flight back home. Though I’ll definitely have to remember this wake-up trick for a solo traveler:
If you are travelling solo, write a “Wake me at 5:00 AM” note and stick a few on and around you — it works. People will wake you.
My situation was slightly creepy but nothing compared to the harrowing experience of a young globe-trotter who, while passing through the South Pacific, witnessed seven people die during a gang shootout in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Port Moresby rightfully earned 2005′s Poopie Airport Award.
Other Strange Places to Sleep for Aspiring Globe-trotters
Contributors to the site have also helped me discover other bizarre but fabulously convenient slumbering options for an adventuring broke-ass to obtain her much-needed beauty rest, such as;
- Bathrooms of 5 star hotels (just pull up a sleeping bag!)
- Instant photo booths (one of my favorites – curl up, close the curtain and voilà!)
- Even a New York sewer grate can keep you toasty in a pinch!
As Scott Gordon contributes;
Editor’s note: here’s something for the “I don’t think any of us are that cheap” category – “If you’re young, adventurous, and visiting New York, any steamy sewer grate will keep you warm during the colder months, though it’ll dampen your clothing and potentially freeze you the next day.”
Ahem. Just so you know.
Curious who won top Poopie Honours for last year?