It was an awesome idea whilst booking flights three months earlier. I’d take an overnight nap on an airport and save over $100 for my flights. I also wouldn’t have to fork out for a hotel and I’d also earn some serious backpacker stripes along the way.
I had actually done it three years earlier in Bangkok Airport. Arriving from Melbourne at 1am, I didn’t have many options with a southbound domestic flight leaving at 6. It seemed pointless to leave the airport, sleep a couple hours in some Khao San Road hostel and attempt to make it back through Bangkok’s notoriously gridlocked traffic.
So I threw on my eye mask and catnapped for a few hours on a cushioned bench outside Burger King. Not the worst slumber I’ve ever slept.
This time I was whisked into Riga airport at the awkward hour of 10pm. I was exhausted, but it was too early to crumple up and completely pass out. I was enroute to Saint Petersburg; my journey that day consisted of two bus trips, a flight from Gatwick to Munich, and then another from Munich to Riga.
The terminal was dead, but I needed to walk and tire myself out so I could sleep from fatigue. It was fascinating to see a place usually so full of people to be vacant. The shops were roller doored up, the travelators desolate, and the only sound was the occasional security buggy beeping past. Gone was that hyper energy of communal stress and excitement, replaced by the stillness of the empty night.
I found the gate for my next morning flight and sized up my sleeping options. Thankfully all the benches had a layer of cushioning, and no arm rests in the middle. This provided a small degree of comfort between me and the metallic bench, and the lack of arm rests meant I could fully stretch out.
The major hindrance was the industrial fluorescent lights. I found a bench far away from the lights, but their beams still shone through my eye mask. I eventually placed some t-shirts over my eyes which blocked the light.
I used a folded towel and a thick jumper to create a decent enough pillow. I placed my valuables in the folds, so I’d be woken up if anyone tried to steal them. To block out noise I listened to podcasts on my headphones, which lulled me to sleep. It took a good three hours, but I eventually slept till breakfast time.
It was brief and I woke up with completely stiff muscles and my eyes glazed over. I felt like I was in a coma/ trance that day, but it did save me some time and money. Would I do it all again if given the option?
Yeah I reckon.