TRAVEL PURGATORY: THE 10 COMMANDMENTS OF SLEEPING IN AIRPORTS
There are 90,000 flights per day on our planet. Most of them are layovers, the “purgatory” of vacation travel. Purgatory, in case you haven’t read Dante, is the place between life and death. You’re stuck between home and destination. Totally, utterly vulnerable to your interconnecting flight. If the flight can’t go because the plane is absent, because the engine is not right, you are stranded in a city where you have no friends, family, or enemies. You are in “travel purgatory.”
Have you seen the Steven Spielberg movie, “The Terminal”? Tom Hanks lives at the airport for like an entire year? That was based on a true story. A man actually lived at Charles de Gaulle Airport for SEVENTEEN YEARS. That’s right, almost two decades, Mehran Karimi Nasseri lived in Terminal 1. Someone stole his papers. He wasn’t allowed to leave or travel and was stuck in “travel purgatory” for 17 friggin’ years. So, you have to ask yourself, if one man managed to be in an airport for almost two decades, is it so bad?
Below are “The 10 Commandments of Sleeping at Airports.” Follow them or beware.
- THOU SHALT NOT PANIC. I know it’s not a private room with four walls, but there’s no need to stress out, cry or feel humiliated. Airports have security, food, and endless places to rest. You’re not being asked to walk across the Sahara Desert. Just remember, no one will ever, ever, ever ask you to leave. Mr.Nasseri did it for 17 years! What’s eight hours? What’s one night? What’s a week? You’re solid. You don’t have to pay for a hotel room for that duration. Airlines feel guilty. They may even pay for a hotel room for one night. Being stuck in purgatory isn’t the end of the world (wait, does that make sense?).
- THOU SHALL CARRY A BLANKET AND JACKET. Always have a blanket. If you forgot to bring one, you canalways swipe one from your flight. But it’s better if you brought your own. Airlines are hard up these days. One missing blanket may make them jack up the price even more. And remember, airlines feel guilty. They sometimes bring you a blanket to wherever you’re sleeping (but, you can’t count on this). Should I even tell you to always have a jacket handy, no matter what the weather is? This garment, depending on style and wear, can also serve as your blanket or work in concert with it to keep you warm. excitingworldtravels
- THOU SHALL CARRY TOILETRIES AT ALL TIMES. I know you can’t “carry on” tooth paste, but if you buy one item at an airport that’s like 10 times the normal price, this may be the one thing worthpaying for. Trust me on this.A clean mouth can make you feel human again. But, there’s no excuse not to carry dental floss. Flossing isactually more important that brushing. Gets rid of all that crap between your teeth that causes bad breath (which may help for when you approach the information desk about a million times, asking about your flight).
- THOU SHALL PLUG UP THY EARS. Airports can be noisy and chaotic. Screaming babies. Screaming children. Screaming adults! Intercoms about interconnecting flights (sit down, not yours). World news reports repeated in eternal fashion. This is why I call Heathrow Airport in London, Deathrow Airport. This is the Superbowl of madness and chaos. Literally, a mental hospital of consumerism and disorganized airport management. If your Karma is so horrible that you wind up having to spend a day here, you will lose your mind, unless… you brought earplugs. Sound, not images, enters your system and alters your mood. Plug those two orifices with your favorite tunes and see magic happen. The chaos can actually be interesting… and entertaining with the escort of your favorite soundtracks.
- THOU SHALL SEEK REFUGE WITH PATIENCE. Don’t settle for the first spot that comes along, unless it’s exactly what you want. You just got off a flight and need to get the blood flowing anyway. A blood clot is definitely not desirable during vacations. Move those legs. One, two, three, four… Scour the airport. Audit the lay of the land. There’s McDonald’s. There’s Starbucks. There’s the bathrooms. It’s kind of like checking out your hotel room. This entire airport may be your hotel room for the night. Check it out. At Toronto/Pearson, an airport that can approach the psychotic levels of Deathrow Airport, I was fortunate enough to find a nice, aloof corner near the broom closets by the food court. This calmed my nerves and brought tranquility to my system.
- THOU SHALL FEEL COMFORT IN SECURITY. What do you find at airports? Security. Everywhere. Security. Security. Security. Al-Quaeda is a horrible, evil organization, but if there’s anything they’ve done that you can benefit from, is end all your worries about getting ripped of at an airport. Thanks to them, every airport in the world is armed to the teeth with security. I’ve never had anything stolen at an airport. In fact, I had something returned to me once. A passport, actually. This doesn’t mean you leave your stuff lying around like it’s a yard sale. You can actually use your bag or backpack as a nice pillow in your sleeping area. And if you’re really paranoid, tie your shoelaces to your arm and the bag. Keep an umbilical cord between you and your stuff so you don’t think about it. But generally, there isn’t much to feel insecure about.
- THOU SHALL SUPPLY THYSELF WITH FOODS. You might be saving money not having to pay for a hotel room, but your wallet could get violated from buying airport food once too many. And not just food, but a cup of coffee. In the real world, an Egg McMuffin may cost a couple bucks. But buying food at an airport is like taking an inflation time machine into the future. “One Egg McMuffin, Six dollars!” What? What year is this, 2020?
Be prepared on this one. Only liquid stuff will be confiscated. You can bring sandwiches. Beef jerky. Any kind of food that doesn’t spoil, you should arm yourself with anyway (airline food can be a crushing disappointment). When it comes to food, don’t depend on the airlines. Or take your chances rolling the dice in the inflation time machine and see what year you end up in. “One Egg McMuffin, $18!” Yes, that can happen.
- THOU SHALL DRESS IN COMFORT. I like to travel in comfortable clothes. As close to the clothes I would wear home. In my case, sweats. Which is kind of the purgatory of clothes. It’s not pajamas, it’s not real clothes, but it’s presentable. Just think. You’re going to be stuck in those clothes for 12 hours, and if you’re stuck somewhere overnight, maybe 36 or 48. You want to be as comfortable as possible.
If I died and God told me to choose an airport to spend eternity in, it would be Osaka International Airport in Japan. Everything is in the perfect place. It’s clean. It’s nice. And I’ve seen people in actual pajamas. That’s how comfortable this place is. People felt at home in this airport. Mr.Nasseri would live here for 27 years! Strangely, I felt overdressed.
- THOU SHALL BEFRIEND AIRPORT STAFF. If the entire airport is your hotel room, and you’re going to be there for 12 to 24 hours, you want to be aware of every function. For example, in your hotel room, you’re going to turn on the TV to see how many channels you have. Well, the remote control are the people, the staff. Talk to them. Introduce yourself. Ask them questions. You’re in their territory. It only helps to get to know them (again, if you took care of the dental hygiene, you’ll fine). One restaurant employee actually gave us food they were going to throw away. Others control the channel on the TV. Others will tell you the places to drink, eat, and so on.
- THOU SHALL NOT WORRY ABOUT FLIGHT. I’m about to tell you an industry secret that will end all your worries about your plane taking off without you for the rest of your life. Once your plane has your luggage, THEY WILL NOT LEAVE UNTIL THEY FIND YOU. They will uncover every rock looking for you, trumpet your name, check every toilet stall. You’ve heard people’s names being called, over and over again. “Mr.Nasseri, please report to Gate 1! Mr.Nasseri!” Well, Mr.Nasseri fell asleep and they can’t take off without him. Now, you’re probably asking yourself, why won’t airlines leave without me, even if I feel asleep in a broom closet or fell in a toilet? If your luggage is on the plane and you’re not, they assume it’s a bomb. I got this information from an ex-stewardess who had a bounty on passengers almost on a daily basis. She had to looking for the guy who fell asleep frantically, until she found him. They won’t leave without you.
So, sleep comfortably, clean your mouth, plug up your ears, and whatever you do, do not get stuck at Hamilton, Ontario Airport. There is nothing to do there. No Wi-Fi. No TV. No music. No nothing. It’s the Death Star of airports. Don’t be there.
Good night. Sleep tight. Don’t let the boarding gate bugs bite.
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