In a perfect world, there would be no flight delays but there would be seamless transfer connections. However, that’s not the case so that makes most international airports ideal as a sort of “home away from home”.
In essence, all relatively busy international airports are designed to be able to provide almost all the necessities and many luxuries that most people expect and require.
They’re basically shopping malls with hotel features.
Throughout my 5 years of continuous vagabonding around the world and flying on over 420 (all-time) flights, these are the ways I’ve used airports like free hotels:
In most cases, there is nothing wrong with sleeping at airports and staying over 48 hours. So don’t worry about being kick out or getting into trouble. Most major airports are essentially built for this. So the first prep is mentality, don’t worry about it.
If you know you’ll be at an airport for long hours, check your large luggage before arriving so you won’t have to lug it around. But have at least a small go-bag packed with just what you need. Also, bring a light jacket or sweater as airports get cold, especially during the red eye hours.
If possible, plan your arrival to coincide with the normal sleeping time of your new country’s time zone to better ease out of jet-lag, there are homeopathic pills that always work for me.
The public terminal area is divided in to 2 parts: the check-in area (where the airline booths are) and the gates area (where only passengers are allowed after security screening). Typically, only the largest airports are good to “use as hotels” for both areas.
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Photos courtesy of Vinjabond