My worst night sleep while traveling #travellinkup

Gatwick Airport

Oh I do love a travel link up, it is a brilliant excuse to go back to past travel experiences and revel in their horror. So together with Kelly and Emma, we have concocted an evil plan to have a travel link up on the first of every month (let me know if you want to take part!). Todays theme is the best or worst sleep you ever had, so let me tell you about my night at Gatwick Airport.

In 2008 I was a travel bunny in the extreme, (22 flights in 6 months!) courtesy of a university exchange and far too much study time. Which lead me to one of the worst decisions I ever made, no not the tax accounting career, I’m talking about the time I decided to sleep at Gatwick.

I was flying in from Menorca (where I slept in a Flintstones themed hotel) to Gatwick at about 11pm at night, and then flying out at 6am the following morning to Glasgow. At the time I was living in Kingston-upon-Thames and to get from the airport to home and back again would have been impossible. Trains would not have been running that late/early, tubes didn’t go that far and I was a student and couldn’t afford a taxi (to be honest, I still couldn’t afford a taxi). So I thought I made a ‘good decision’ to just stay the night at the airport.

No one ever told me that Gatwick airport closes at night.

For some reason they let me check in for the morning flight the night before, and go through security and everything. So I walked into the airside part of Gatwick, sat down and started to read my book. My plan was to read, get some food, have a look at the shops and then nap. Well, I didn’t notice the airport slowly get emptier and emptier, and by the time I got up and went looking for food all the resteraunts and cafes were closed.

It was at this point I started to think this may not be the smartest thing I have ever done.

So I was hungry, but I thought ‘thats fine, I can handle it’.

Then they turned the lights off.

So I was hungry, alone and in the dark at Gatwick Airport. At this point I may have started freaking out just a little bit.

I made the best of the situation and tried to snuggle down on the most uncomfortable airport seats in the world and have a nap. Which was working quite well until I was woken up by the cleaning crew who thought I was dead. Since the Polish to Kiwi communication was not so good, the cleaners went and got airport security.

Just to clarify, I’m not at my most articulate when I’ve just arrive off a flight, have had no food, its dark, three in the morning and I’ve been woken up by strangers speaking Polish. So when it came to explaining myself to the guys wearing hi-vis vests and holding guns, I essentially just sat there like a  startled rabbit.

Thankfully there was nothing that the airport police could do, because I had cleared security and everyone else had gone home for the night. So they just told me not to cause any trouble and left me alone. After that I gave up on trying to sleep and wandered the dark halls trying not to jump at every noise.

Things got weirder when the airside crew started turning up for their morning shift. The duty free shop was in the middle of stock take, and after I turned up like an over-tired Kiwi apparition they offered me a job counting perfumes.

I eventually got on my flight and met my parents in Glasgow, where I promptly fell apart and burst into tears.

Ahhhh travel, you sexy beast.

14 Comments

  1. February 1, 2014 / 2:44 pm

    What the hell??!?! Oh my goodness; there is nothing better than having a huge gun pointed at you while you are travelling but in England?!?!

    Hey at least that tax accounting came in handy when they offered you the stocktake job

    xx

  2. February 1, 2014 / 5:17 pm

    I had a similar experience in Luton airport, trying to save money on a nights accommodation. Big mistake, I ended up falling asleep on the River Seine boat cruise the next day in Paris. Airports should be 24hrs!

  3. February 1, 2014 / 7:10 pm

    Woah. I never would have known that Gatwick closed. Noted!

  4. Molly S
    February 1, 2014 / 8:28 pm

    Gatwick closes?? Noted for future reference! Not your best night’s sleep though, I guess! Gotta love travelling sometimes……

  5. February 2, 2014 / 9:35 am

    I admit, i had a bit of a chuckle reading your post so thank you! It did make for an interesting night but I’ll second Sara and say all airports should be 24/7.

  6. February 3, 2014 / 8:12 pm

    I didn’t know that Gatwick closed. I think your story definitely counts as a memorable one! I had a similar experience at the airport in Panama. We pinched the wheely chairs from the check-in desk and went on a race down the empty corridors! Clearly, security isn’t as tight there…

  7. February 6, 2014 / 6:46 am

    You poor thing Certainly a story to tell!

    • runawaykiwi@gmail.com
      February 12, 2014 / 1:57 pm

      Its horrible at the time, and then years later an awesome story!