Tips to Sleep Well While Traveling

Proper sleep is important, especially while traveling. Whether your work finds you constantly on the road or you’re planning a family getaway, catching the proper z’s while away from home isn’t just recommended; it’s vital. 

While traveling is often seen as a stress-reliever, it can be just the opposite, which is not always beneficial to our bodies. With planning and patience, you can be sure to wake up rested each morning, even while on the road. Here are some tips to help you sleep well while traveling. 

Maintain Healthy Habits

Sleeping well is one key to staying healthy. The reverse is also true: a healthy person will usually sleep better. During sleep, our bodies burn calories and repair damage. This doesn’t change when you’re on vacation. Whether you are constantly on the road or preparing for an annual vacation, follow healthy habits during the day to reap the rewards at night. 

Eating healthy and exercising daily are important steps. It’s natural to want to enjoy yourself while on vacation, but that doesn’t mean you should overindulge. In addition to eating a balanced diet, take daily walks, Or you can get your body moving using the treadmill at the hotel gym, going for a gym at the pool, or even exercise “snacks” in your hotel room. You should also be sure to stay hydrated, especially after eating salty car snacks. 

Plan Ahead

Often, poor sleep while on the road is caused by the anxiety of travel. Planning your journey and preparing for the trip can alleviate many stressors that can lead to poor sleep. If you’re traveling by car, follow a road trip checklist to ensure you remember the essentials and are prepared for any medical or roadside emergency that might come your way. 

When it’s time to pack, bring along some extra sleep accessories to ensure you catch your needed shuteye. Comfort items such as a favorite blanket or pajamas will help you feel at home no matter where you sleep. Accessories such as earplugs and eye masks can block out the unfamiliar sights and sounds of a hotel room. For kids, remember their favorite bedtime dolls or books. After all, kids who sleep well won’t wake their parents in the middle of the night.

Eliminate Stress

From traffic to flight delays to cranky kids, there are plenty of stressors no matter how or where you travel. That’s why taking short breaks for self-care throughout the trip is so important. If you’re driving, take five minutes every time you stop to breathe deeply and relax your muscles. When it’s time to sleep, massage the back of your scalp with your fingertips. If you find yourself having trouble falling asleep, count backward from 10 while breathing slowly. You can also guide children through these same exercises. 

Outside stressors unrelated to traveling can also wreak havoc on your sleep. Money is often a huge source of concern, especially while on the road. Before you hit the highway, make sure you’ve budgeted accordingly. 

In addition to having enough cash to cover food, lodging, and transportation, be ready for unexpected expenses. Most rental cars and hotels require a deposit of at least $100. If you use your debit card, those funds could be tied up for days or weeks, so be sure to bring along a credit card. If your credit isn’t where you want it to be, consider opening a secured credit card. These accounts require a deposit, but they work like regular credit cards, and they can help build your credit when used responsibly. 

Routine is King

If you travel for work, developing day and night routines that focus on your health are integral for worthwhile sleep. If you’re traveling by yourself, don’t push yourself too hard. Sleep when you would at home. Avoid electronics and cocktails right before bed: Blue light and alcohol can mess with your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep, respectively.

If your travels are lasting two days or less, follow the two-day rule. Keep your same schedule and habits to avoid stressing your body. If it’s going to be a long road trip, start to adapt your body before you leave. Be aware of changing time zones and different weather conditions that can interrupt your sleep schedule. 

Finally, remember to enjoy yourself. Even if it’s just for a few minutes between meetings, take the time to appreciate your surroundings. Talk to your friends when you normally would, and check-in with family for a familiar voice. 

Traveling can be a way of life or an exciting adventure that happens once a year. Either way, it’s important to rest well along the way. When it comes to health and sleep, listen to your body. With a little preparation, every day on the road can be a rich and rewarding experience.

Molly Barnes

Molly Barnes is a full-time digital nomad, exploring and working remotely in different cities in the US. She co-maintains a website, Digital Nomad Life (digitalnomadlife.org) to help others to pursue a nomadic lifestyle.

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