I have a layover in YVR (Vancouver international airport) from roughly 8:10 pm to 7:30 am. I don't want to spend money on a hotel or a "sleep-pod"/equivalent. I will most likely bring a sleeping bag and pillow. Other things to note:

I am a very light sleeper and will be wearing heavy-duty ear plugs.

It is crucial I get at least 8 hours of sleep and will therefore take soporific(s).

I obviously can't miss my flight.

What is the best way to sleep in an airport, while spending little to no money?

Ideas I have thought of:

  1. Set a high-volume alarm on my phone, 30 minutes or so before boarding.

  2. Ask a flight attendant or other airport employee to wake me - possibly in combination with (1)

  3. Ask another "layover-ee" to wake me

  4. Tape a sign above me with an arrow pointing downward that says "Please wake at 7:00 am! Will pay $5!"

Ideas, please?


I am not worried about theft of my possessions. I will simply put all my, very small, valuables (phone, wallet, passport) at the bottom of my sleeping bag. This is assuming that I will wake up, should some idiot attempt to pull me out of my sleeping bag to steal my valuables..I also do not have a carry-on.

The main thing I am concerned with is missing my flight.

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    #4 is pretty cute!
    – Flimzy
    Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 18:12
  • If you have an iPhone, I would just listen to music and try to fall asleep to that, and then the alarm will sound through the headphones on full blast when it's time to get up...
    – Jake
    Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 18:19
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    your only concern is that you won't wake up in time? You aren't worried about theft or the like? OK. No employee who you ask before you sleep will still be at work when you want to wake, so forget that. I would suggest sleeping at the gate where you will board, and putting a large sign "I need to catch AC 123" (for your airline and flight number) near your head along with "please wake me at 7:00" if you like. However, if this sleep is important enough to risk the loss of all your possessions including your passport, surely it's worth the cost of a room? Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 18:23
  • For those citing security issues - please look at edits to the question :) Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 18:40
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    flight attendants are not airport employees, in fact they hate airports and can barely stand being there for 5 minutes.. Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 19:06

4 Answers 4


Number 1 is your best bet and about the only sure thing.

There is pretty much zero chance for number 2, as employees working when you bed down will not be on duty 8+ hours later when you need to wake up. Even if you fall asleep by the gate with your flight number on a sign, there is no guarantee that flight will depart from the originally assigned gate as gates get changed all the time.

Number 3 assumes that your fellow sleepers have the same connections / wake up time and that they also will be able to awaken on time. While it never hurts to agree to awaken each other, that should be an extra precaution, not primary.

Number 4, might work, then again might prompt jokesters to wake you up for the fun of it and ask for the $5.

And from a purely personal point of view, if I had an issue that mandated minimum amount of sleep or suffer consequences, I would try to find money in my travel budget for a room.


I spent two of the last three nights in airports where I was horribly exhausted and jetlagged, and both times needed to be up at 5.30am for the next flight or to meet a friend.

I found a bench, had my big pack beside me, and my daypack sitting on top of it. I then wrap my arms inside the day pack, and fall asleep that way. It's a lot easier than it sounds. I've also tied them to my legs in the past, but this was pretty simple. I was pleased to find when I awoke in the morning that my arms were still within the straps.

As for ensuring I woke, I went with the big alarm (multiple). And I put it in my pocket. This was secure, and the advantage is if it doesn't wake you, there's a good chance someone nearby seeing you sleeping there with your alarm clock blaring away that they'll give you a nudge.

Another time I slept by the check in counter, thus ensuring when it opened, passengers arriving would have to step over me to check in - making it a good bet that I'd be woken :) I've also seen people sleeping on the bag-weighing parts of the check-in counters, but suspect security might move you off those.

A note couldn't hurt - and in fact I considered that two nights ago, but had no paper. I mean, worst case it gets ignored, best case it may even help you. I've actually seen this once or twice in Europe.

I've not slept overnight in Vancouver, but upstairs by the Starbucks in the international terminal looks pretty decent - there are some benches nearby, and it's fairly public. Otherwise there are plenty of corners to hide out in. From the sounds of SleepingInAirports, the area by the USA gates sounds like a good spot.

Note that as of 2012, "As of January 2012, there have been reports that security is now checking airport sleepers throughout the night. Please have your ID, e-ticket and a good reason as to why you are not in a hotel!"



The website I just attached has a lot of useful info to keep in mind and sleeping at airport, plus it has some good tips that might help answer your question.. But if it was me, I would just try to fall asleep to some music over the headphones plugged into my phone, and set an alarm on loud to play through the headphones when it was time to wake up!

  • 1
    I might just come a day early on my next flight, this site makes it sound really great...
    – Synthetica
    Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 21:45
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    Link-only answers are something we stay away from, to help prevent against link rot. We want answers to stand the test of time, so if possible, you could put tidbits from the link (applicable to this person's situation) and put it into the body of your answer.
    – yuritsuki
    Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 22:27
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    @thinlyveiledquestionmark I didn't feel like copying the entire page from the link I posted. And actually, it wasn't a "link-only" answer. I'm assuming you didn't read past the link? And the link was to provide insight in other problems like theft and problems with airport security with sleeping there. So, yeah, I answered the question here. We like to stay away from providing things in the answer section that have nothing to do with the question. We want our answers to be aimed toward answering the question and providing a link for other information.
    – Jake
    Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 22:46
  • @Jake Right, like I said, just post small tidbits that can actually relate with the OP. I didn't ask you to just copy-paste the entire site
    – yuritsuki
    Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 22:48
  • Well, like I said, I answered it already, lol and provided the link for other things unrelated, like more info and tips. Thanks for stopping by tho.
    – Jake
    Commented Jun 27, 2014 at 22:49

If it's a transfer where you're already behind security, sleep at the departing gate of your next flight in a highly visible area to the flight personnel. When the flight attendants call for last call, chances are they'll see you and wake you up to get on the plane. Your 7:30am flight is likely the first or perhaps second flight, so you're even likely to be awoken by the number of passengers suddenly making noise.

You could also buy an electro-shock alarm clock: http://mashable.com/2013/01/17/this-alarm-clock-will-shock-you-out-of-bed/ :)

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