What to do when it’s midnight and you are stuck in an airport? Oh and traveling solo!!
Well I had such an experience back in April 2013 when I was heading to my friend’s in Singapore after visiting Melaka and Penang in Malaysia. I had a 5-hour layover in the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. For the price of the tickets with Air Asia, I could not really complain but what is there to do!?!
After arriving from Penang, I could either leave the baggage claim area and head into Kuala Lumpur, KL. However, it was middle of the night and I was a Single Woman. My flight to Singapore was at 5:10am. So it made sense to stay in the airport.
Now the second question, stay in the baggage claim area or head to check-in area?? The weird thing was that I HAD to leave the secured area and claim my luggage despite the fact that I was still in Malaysia – I mean if I had to go through Customs, I would understand. Anyways, I had to do what I had to do. Now considering most airlines open their check-in counters no more than 2 to 3 hours prior to departure time. I would have to watch my own luggage until the check-in counters open. So I decided to stay in the baggage claim area. As there are less people and less noise in the baggage claim area. Also, I noticed I was not the only person in this situation.
Some came prepared, had pillows, blankets and/or sleeping bag for this situation. One woman I spoke to, she was on her way for vacation in Brunei. Another couple was on their way home to Bangkok. Two women was looking forward to their girls weekend in Bangkok.
So here is a list of things you can do to past the time:
1. Catch up on Emails
Whether you are traveling for business or pleasure, there is bound to be a backlog of emails waiting for your eyes. Fortunately most airports now provide free WiFi – some may require creating a profile of sorts but it is definitely worth it. Most offer 2-hours of free WiFi which is perfect as it is suggested to arrive between 2 to 3 hours prior to an international flight.
Special note: Suvarnabhumi Airport, BKK (Bangkok International Airport) offers free WiFi – however, you have to approach the service desk in the secured area (after check-in and security checks). At the service desk, they will ask to see your passport and give you the required login information. (This was my case when I was last there in Jun 2013)
2. Souvenir Shopping
If you have been avoiding the busy markets and potential pushy sales staff at souvenir stands – you can finally shop in peace and not haggle the price. As most 24-hour airports will keep some small shops and Duty Free shop open for 24-hours. Mind you the prices will be higher than the market and may carry a “Made in China” sticker, regardless of your current country.
3. Write some Postcards
As old school, as it sounds – receiving a handwritten postcard from someone you love has a special “Je ne sais quoi” vibe attached to it. I admit, I have a tendency to mail postcards to my family, friends and myself! A postcard is a beautiful photo, a piece of mind “I’m safe”, a souvenir, a journal entry and a fond memory. However, there’s been a few times, where the recipient received the postcard more than 30 days after I posted the card.
4. Watch a movie and eat some junk food
If local food is all that you have been eating, there is nothing like re-creating a home-grown favorite while on the road. Have a movie night! Grab a bag of potato chips, candies, snacks, a can of pop and watch a movie on your laptop or tablet or phone.
5. Have a Dance Party!
Slap on those headphones and dance like no one is looking. Who knows – you might start a flash mob!
6. Yoga or Exercise
Do a few Sun salutations. Speed walk. Do push-ups/planks. Do some simple stretches. Use your luggage as weights. After a flight, it’s great to the blood moving.
7. Write a Journal Entry
Before my journey, someone gave me a beautiful travel journal. However, I had been writing my journal entries on my phone on Evernote. So I pulled it out and jotted down some thoughts and experiences I had while in Malaysia.
8. Read that Travel guide
It is becoming a trend that I carry travel guide, for the sake of carrying a travel guide. I have a tendency to leave it in the hotel room and completely forget about it. It becomes a dead weight. So this would be prime time to read up on your destination if you have been procrastinating like me. At least browse at the basics; currency, exchange rates, map a route from airport to your hotel/hostel.
Pick a mantra. Pick a song. Pick a mudra. Find your breath. Scan your body. Let the thoughts drop. Breathe.
10. If you are bone tired – Sleep!
Airplanes are not the best places for me to sleep, I failed in the sleeping “upright” class.
Of course, if I was fortunate enough to be in Business or First class – I will definitely be able to sleep! However, 98% of the time, I am in Economy, squished with everyone else.
I do love it when they offer to upgrade me for FREE though!!
In terms of your luggage – If you are a light sleeper then you may have less to worry about. If you are a deep sleeper and care about your possessions, then remember to keep your valuables close to you. Either use your purse as a pillow or wrap the straps around your arm a few times. Make sure all the zippers are closed and locked, if possible. I tried out a few positions; on the floor, on the benches, through the armrests… I managed to catch a nap here and there.
Some days I wish I can sleep with one eye open. So if you do know how and can teach me, do share!