Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Overnight layover-here is what to do plus London Heathrow Tips

This past summer when we visited my family back in Florida, our ride home left us with a 7 hour layover at London-Heathrow airport. Our layover was just long enough that if we got a hotel we would only be there for 4 hours-not paying £200 a night for 4 hours, ain't happen'in'!

So, after some research (meaning we arrived there, an hour early no less, and talked to people) we decided we could totally stay over night no problem!

First thing we did was find a bar...after that long flight I was in desperate need of an adult beverage and she needed a coca-cola.

This particular bar was in Terminal 3...their last call is at 11pm, and they will still do a BIG drink for you, especially if you are nice to the guy at the bar and tell him you're staying all night, he will even give you tips for staying over night-hint: terminals 3 & 5 are your bff's.

After the drink we rode the Heathrow express until it stopped running back to the airport around midnight. This gave us about 90 minutes to explore all the terminals and decide Terminal 3 was the one we were going to park it at, will explain why further down.

Once we decided on terminal 3 we wandered for a bit and then settled in at Nero's Coffee shop. There were a TON of people in there. We were just settling in when "Ed" wandered up to our table. Ed was traveling with his sister and was a really nice guy. We talked to him for a solid 3 hours! We had great conversation. If you have to stay overnight at an airport striking up a convo with a stranger is a great way to while away the hours. 

Once we got bored of Ed and his sister we decided we would go find something to do, we wound up walking backwards on the people mover! ha!

A few workers passed us as we goofed off and shockingly no one told us to stop. They just laughed and asked if we were having a good time-which, we were!

After that we went and sat outside in the cool late summer air. It was really nice, especially with these purple lights above us the whole time.

About this time it was working it's way to 4am and the Heathrow Express didn't start running until 5:30 or 6 we decided we'd walk to Terminal 5-NOT! hahaha So we started on our way, but something felt "off" to me, so we walked back and asked one of the bus drivers if it was possible to walk to Terminal 5 and he laughed, called someone on his speaker and we got a whole tour of the airport dropping people who'd stayed all night at random terminals. It was super kind of them to drop us off at Terminal 5 where our next plane was departing.

Once we got there we discovered there was a Costa Coffee and a Nero Coffee there, but only the Nero was actually open all night. It wasn't super busy though so I was glad we stayed at Terminal 3, much more populated and energetic for an overnight stay.

Once we were at Terminal 5 we decided to walk around, they have some beautiful lights in the trees and other fun decorations, we even took some sleepy selfies.

Tree's are gorgeous. The arch at the end lights up with all the destinations.

Sleepy selfie....she was begging to fall asleep and for me to stop taking pictures! 

Tips for staying over night at any airport:
  • Research. I found extremely helpful! Also, asking around once we landed was also quite helpful. If you're nice and give a little tip people will talk your ear off ;)
  • Dress comfortably. My child wanted to wear hippie pants and 90s chunky heels, I made her change because 24 hours in that garb would not have been fun. Yoga pants, leggings, t-shirts and runners is where it is at for traveling like this. Comfort over fashion is definitely a must when you will be up and moving for 24+ hours.
  • Pack your carry on accordingly. In our carry on I made sure to have our toothbrushes, a small toothpaste, feminine products (just in case I mean I have a teenage girl, unpredictable body lol), a change of shirt, socks, and panties, as well as a hair brush. These worked really well for us and were everything we needed.
  • Entertainment. Bring not only your electronics but a physical magazine or book as well. We were sure glad we did when our electronics ran out of battery and all the charging outlets were taken!
Tips at Heathrow Specifically:
  • They will wake you up! Be aware, Heathrow doesn't actually allow you to sleep at their airport. They are open 24 hours, but if you are by yourself and are asleep, they will wake you up, we saw it happen to a few people. In some of the slower terminals you might be able to sleep, but 3 and 5 they were definitely waking people up.
  • Terminals 3 & 5 most active! From our brief research terminals 3 and 5 seemed to be the most active terminals. Terminal 3: Full service bar open until late, last called seemed to be 11ish and then closing at midnight. 24 hours Costa Coffee on top level and 24 hours Nero Coffee on main entrance level. Terminal 5: 24 hours Nero Coffee...also a Costa Coffee here but they were close when we arrived there about 4:30-5 am, so bear that in mind. All places had a great selection coffee and treats/sandwiches and not too overpriced.
  • Explore! We found there are some really neat pieces of art and just general great design principals at Heathrow so make sure you look around, up and down to truly enjoy the design aesthetic!
A list of fun things to do while you are at the airport overnight:
  • Talk to people! Don't shy away, this time of night people are looking to do anything to stay awake, so don't be afraid to put down your phone and strike up conversation! We met some super cool people this way.
  • Walk back words on the people mover. Harmless and it helped us blow an hour.
  • Start a flash mob. We thought about this, but there was a HUGE group of people trying their damndest to sleep between security waking them up so decided against it, but could have been fun, but I think we'd have been the "super annoying Americans" haha
  • Wander. Trust me, you'll know when you should stop, like my above story. The sidewalk will end or there will be a HUGE do not enter sign, otherwise, explore, don't be afraid :)
  • Play games. From eye spy to yahtzee you can play almost anything in the airport. We played yahtzee for a bit as you can find di apps for your phone.
  • Get some exercise. If the walking isn't enough for you do some stretching/yoga. Trust me at 3am no one cares what you are doing.
  • Enjoy the time to disconnect. We really used the time to not be online. We talked to each other, other people and just reconnected with the world around us. It was a great time and we really enjoyed it...until 6am rolled around, then we were just tired haha
I hope you find our experience useful, have you ever done an overnight in an airport? What was your experience, if so?

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