How To Protect Your Luggage While Sleeping In The Airport Boarding Area

If you fly enough, creative airport sleeping can be an art form. Some travelers will do whatever it takes to find an airport hotel, even if only checking in for a few hours. Others get creative. Sleeping at the airport isn't ideal, but it's a convenient and budget-friendly way to hopscotch long-haul itineraries. And even hotel-seekers may find themselves considering terminal camping in certain circumstances.

Whether it's due to a canceled flight, getting bumped from your seat, or the result of choosing a money-saving overnight flight, sleeping at the airport isn't ideal, and some airports definitely host better snooze fests than others. But whether you're against a wall in a terminal hallway in Barcelona, reclining in a free Snooze Lounge in Singapore, or lounging under the stars in Munich's glassed-in atrium, sleeping at airports presents one challenge — protecting your luggage while you doze. And this is especially true when sleeping around terminal gates. 

Due to security guards and cameras, airports are generally safe places, but you're still unconscious in public. You certainly don't want to wake up to a missing personal bag or (yikes) passport. Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to keep your belongings safe while sleeping at the airport.

Choose the right place to crash

First, we should mention that some airports offer luggage lockers and/or luggage offices. If available, then a few bucks can ensure your luggage stays safe overnight. However, you may prefer to keep your carry-on or personal bag with you. After all, what's airport camping without a quick laptop documentary? Also, depending on your situation, the luggage office may already be closed, and most luggage lockers are actually located landside. While these are (maybe) options, you may just rather sleep with your stuff.

But when sleeping at the airport, you'll need to balance safety with comfort. Understandably, you'll probably be compelled to find a dark, isolated spot to find some sleep-conducive privacy, but this isn't exactly wise. As stated, airports can be pretty empty places overnight, so you'll actually be a bit safer finding a crowd of sorts. It's just less likely someone will rummage through your stuff with a few other eyeballs around. Considering that domestic terminals often close at night, everyone may be in different states of slumber in the international terminal anyway. 

If you're not comfortable with this (because you're not comfortable with sleeping at the airport in general), then check to see if your terminal features sleeping pods, which are popping up at international airports. Whether by the hour or for the night, the rates of sleeping pods are typically reasonable, and you'll have a bed with your belongings safely stowed during your long airport layover

Get creative with your camp setup

Luggage lockers and sleep pods aside, genuine terminal camping by your gate takes a bit of finesse to balance comfort with property protection. First, make sure all your valuables, which may include electronics, passport, jewelry, etc., are in your carry-on or personal bag. This bag now functions as your pillow. Add some softness with clothes over top, if you'd like, but don't allow this bag to sit next to you.

With your carry-on or personal bag now as a pillow, keep any other bags as close to you as possible. While you probably don't need to tether your arm to your luggage with a belt and a bell, you may be able to sleep with an arm through a luggage handle or with your legs draped over a bag. Finally, position your luggage with the zippers towards yourself, a wall, the seat, or the floor. An exposed zipper may be a tempting proposition for a would-be thief. Obviously, a TSA-approved luggage lock also helps.

No, it's not ideal to sleep during a long airport layover, but making the best of a situation is traveling 101, and with a little creativity, you'll wake up with a flight to catch, all your stuff, and perhaps a stiffer-than-normal back.