One of the last things people may consider when planning their dream vacation is sleep. We envision sandy beaches, excellent meals, and seeing the sights. But we don’t really think about getting quality sleep. However, sleep will almost certainly play a tremendous role in your happiness and level of enjoyment on your vacation. Nobody wants to be nodding off on the teacups at Disneyland or while walking the vineyard of your new favorite winery.
Here at Awaken Travels we have put together a list of our best tips and tricks to make sure you get a great night’s rest. Whether battling jet lag, sleeping in an airport on a long layover, or just in an unfamiliar bed, we’ve been through it.
Everyone differs when it comes to what’s needed for a good night’s sleep. We all know someone who could sit down on a metal folding chair in the middle of a chainsaw testing facility and wake up eight hours later, fresh as a daisy. Sadly, that’s not the reality for most of us.
To still sleep well on vacation, we prepare a small sleep kit to toss in our carry on bag for whenever we may need it. You will likely not need all the items we recommend, but start with what you think sounds helpful and tune it to your needs as you go.
When in doubt, add sound.
This one is (mostly) free, doesn’t weigh a thing, and can be a game changer for your sleep. All your favorite streaming services, Youtube, Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, etc. have tons of white noise for use or download to assist you with sleep. Whether you prefer waterfalls, rain, whale songs, or just gentle static, white noise does wonders to drown out the chaos of a loud or unfamiliar spot. Whether you prefer headphones or simply your phone’s speaker, a peaceful drone of sound can be perfect for sleep. We always have a playlist of a few eight hour sleep tracks to save the day.
Oftentimes, sleeping in a plush hotel bed is some of the best sleep you’ll ever come by. Other times, there’s someone down the hall who slams their door all night or a rowdy group in the room over. For whatever reason, sometimes it pays off to bring a bit of your own zen sounds to the vacation experience. Play it from your phone, listen with headphones, or pack a tiny bluetooth speaker with you.
Turn down the volume.
When paired with white noise, or just your favorite podcast, a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones can make even the most unbearable flight, or excited family cabana nap into a quiet and calm cloud of restful sleep. In flight, we only take them off when interacting with flight staff, or during takeoff and landing. They’re amazing at turning down the volume on everything and letting you escape to your own zen.
They don’t just offer peace while sleeping, but make a whole flight more peaceful meaning sleep is that much easier when you are ready. Their value doesn’t end after the flight either.
Want to grab a nap down by the pool, but the kids are a little excited? Maybe trying to sleep in a bit but the tropical birds woke up with the sun? No problem. These are amazing for children to use as well!
Turn down the lights.
There are a million variations of eye masks out there. Odds are if you’ve flown a long distance in the past you’ve already been given one on your flight. Some love them, some not so much. Eye masks are great for turning down the lights and setting the mood for sleep, no matter where you are. With so many different designs we recommend trying out a few to see what you like.
If eye masks are just not your thing, a hooded sweatshirt can often be plenty to dim the lights enough to get some rest.
An eye mask is also your best friend if you’re dealing with jetlag and desperately need to get some sleep during the bright daylight hours.
Rest your head.
A good pillow can go a long way to a proper night’s sleep. If you have a particular set of requirements, often hotels can offer a variety of firmness levels in pillows. Simply request from the front desk. Or you have a few other options:
Travel pillows. These come in a million shapes, sizes, and compositions. The one thing they have in common compared to a normal pillow is they pack down smaller, making them easier to carry with you. Try a few and see what you might like. We haven’t had great luck with inflatable varieties, but you might. Like all pillows, travel pillows don’t just come in handy on a flight, we’ve used them all over the place. They can even come in handy to soften a hard seat or for lumbar support in a pinch.
A pillowcase from home. Oddly this really falls under the category of aromatherapy. Your nose rests directly on your pillowcase all night and your pillowcase will carry with it particular smells from home like your detergent and your cozy bed. A pillowcase is tiny and easy to pack, but can carry a real sense of calm for sleep in unfamiliar hotel rooms in far off lands. This can be a great tip for children as well. Familiar smells and textures can be quite soothing.
BYO. This should be a last resort really, due to the size and hassle of carrying around a pillow in your luggage. But if you know the only way you are guaranteed a decent night of sleep is on your own pillow, then you do you.
Supplement your sleep.
Whether battling jet lag, odd new sleeping hours, or just too excited to sleep, a well timed supplement can give you a chance to have a restful night and be ready for your all-day snorkelling trip in the morning.
Many swear by melatonin to trigger the yawns and heavy eyelids nearly instantly. This is just right for some, while others may find it a little heavy handed, and prefer a more subtle approach. Regardless, if you want to use melatonin there are two big notes to keep in mind. One, melatonin is not legal in every country, and could cause you trouble that would just end up with losing sleep. The other is to leave time for a full night’s sleep or you may feel groggy in the morning while it’s still in your system.
A more subtle approach that many prefer is a simple sleep tea. Many exist on the market and come in a variety of flavors and ingredients. Most contain either valerian or chamomile as an active ingredient to calm and relax you into your sleep. These can be a nice evening ritual as you prepare for a good night sleep. Often hotel rooms have a kettle for boiling water, and you can always request a cup of hot water on a flight. Tea is an easy solution and perhaps just the act of sitting quietly with a hot drink in the evening will lull you off to sleep.
Quiet you mind.
Our final tip doesn’t require any objects at all. It can be difficult, especially in the whirlwind of your dream trip, but just consciously deciding the day is over can do wonders. Gently remind yourself that you will have plenty of time for any planning, strategizing, worrying, and scheduling tomorrow, and that today is done. Think about breathing. Be thankful that you have the opportunity to take such a beautiful trip with your favorite people. Be proud of yourself for taking personal time and taking care of yourself.
If you’re lost on this, check out some meditation and breathing guides on Youtube, Netflix or wherever you stream podcasts.
Ready to practice sleeping well away from home?
Now that we have the groundwork for sleeping well in a bed other than your own, let’s put it to the test and plan a vacation! We’re travel experts and ready to help you plan the ultimate vacation. We’re here to make sure your hotel isn’t next to a construction site (talk about bad sleep) and that you get that dinner reservation you’ve been thinking about for years.
Get in touch with us and let us know what you’re planning and we’ll make sure it’s an amazing vacation.
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