Reduce the amount you spend on hotels, hostels, and transportation by booking your connecting flights early in the morning or late at night. Flying in early in the morning or leaving late at night saves you the cost of finding somewhere to sleep if you’re willing to spend a few hours in an airport.

Advantages

  • Cost – Hotels charge you a full day’s price no matter how many hours you spend. Often frequent travelers are forced to dish out money for only a few hours of rest (and shower of course). Airports are free and provide restrooms, a cleaning staff, and (usually) Internet access.
    • Check the list of the best and worst airports to crash in.
  • Safety – Often overlooked, but airports provide safety. They are always open and have security staff working around the clock. Scope a good place to sleep, secure your luggage around your leg (a laptop lock works great for this), and set your cell phone alarm to wake you every 30 minutes to keep alert.
  • Time – Depending on how far awy the airport is from the place you’re planning to visit, you’ll save around an hour or two simply traveling back and forth from the airport. You’ll eventually have to go back, but you can save yourself at least one trip to the hotel.


Disadvantages

  • Comfort – This is a big one, I can see people’s faces now as they read the first two lines of this post. Sleeping in an airport is not as comfortable as a hotel room or hostel. Sleeping in airports as a travel plan is really only for those who are really looking to save some money or feeling adventurous. Some airports have nice couches, some don’t have couches at all, in the end they are couches.
    • Make sure to drink plenty of fluids, get up from time to time, and stretch whenever you can.
  • Cleanliness – The bathrooms are clean and may be cleaner than many hotels or hostels. You however won’t be as clean, but if you’re just stopping by a city on your way to meet some friends or family, you’ll survive a few days without a shower. Make sure to wear layers, the small essentials (like gum and tissues), and have a change of undershirts and underwear in your carry-on.
  • Privacy – Sleeping out in the open, as empty as airports can get, doesn’t offer much privacy. Don’t tuck yourself too far in a corner (you want to be somewhat in the open or around other people for safety), but you’ll have to accept that human pass gas, snore, and occasionally fall while sleeping on narrow surfaces. Keep in mind that you’re unconscious, it helps.
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Lodging is a big part of any vacation budget (here’s a quick guide on how to create one). Crashing in airports also works if you are traveling by car and makes the advantages mentioned above all the more pertinent. The only thing you should not do is sacrifice all of your rest for a couple of bucks. Some people just can’t sleep under the conditions you’ll find in an airport, which could easily ruin a vacation. People who are sleep deprived make poor decisions and find experiences less enjoyable.

No amount of money is worth being grumpy as you have fun traveling.

[photo by: minicloud]