A recent Gulliver post poses an important question: Where can you get some sleep if you are in transit and without lodging? For the Gulliver correspondent, the issue came to the fore thanks to a quick trip from the UK to Toronto, a night in Toronto, and then a flight back to the UK. The writer soldiered through the days with the help of constant distractions, until it was time to check out of the hotel but still too early to go back to the airport: “By mid-afternoon, having checked out of the hotel and finished at the conference, I was in that zombie-like state familiar to all business travelers. With six hours to go until my flight, I was wandering the streets with my wheelie-bag and finding it impossible to keep my eyes open.”
While I’ve never done such a quick turnaround I do sympathize with the writer’s woes.There was a stretch of a few years when I made quick trips to London every three or four months. Typically I would leave JFK at night and arrive at Heathrow in the morning. These trips were usually scheduled so my first day was relatively free. I didn’t have to go to a meeting right off the plane. But by the time I cleared customs, it was usually too early to check in to the hotel so I would wander around fighting off sleep while also trying to enjoy the city.
Of course, checking your bag at the hotel is a no brainer. A lighter load doesn’t diminish sleep deprivation, however. I came up with something like a routine on these trips. First, I would always take the slow train from the airport to London. While the express train lives up to its name, and is great for getting to the airport quickly, when you’re not in a rush you might as well enjoy the seat and the scenery, and if you’re lucky nod off for a few minutes. Once in the city center I would get rid of my suitcase and then find a place to sit outside. I usually stayed around High Holborn. The courtyard in front of the British Museum is a nice place to relax, as is Covent Garden. Eventually I would be able to check in, sneak in a quick nap, go out that evening, and then pass out for the night, ready to go the next morning.
What strategies have you employed to kill time when traveling, while also being dead tired?