I’ve slept many different places throughout my years of traveling: spare bedrooms, Greyhound buses, hostel bunks, tents, backseats, a beach, a picnic table, an RV couch, a sailboat, a concrete rest stop floor, and more couches than I can count (but never, incidentally, a plane). It can be difficult to settle down and rest when you’re in an unfamiliar bed, but there are things you can do to encourage your body to take some much-needed rest.
1. Eat your vitamins. Don’t neglect your health when you’re on the road: getting proper nutrients will help you feel better overall and sleep deeper. (See Seven Helpful Travel Foods.)
|Mary has the right idea.|
2. Keep physically active during the day. I’m convinced that many people who have sleep problems could do away with their insomnia if they were more active. When you’re on a trip, take a brisk walk, play in the ocean, stretch while you’re sitting on the train, stop at a rest stop and throw a frisbee around. Getting out in the fresh air and sunlight will help, too.
3. Have a bedtime ritual. Your body thrives on habits, so if you give it consistency, it’ll be happier with you. Try rubbing a fragrant lotion on your face just before bed, or always going to sleep right after you brush your teeth.
4. Listen to a specific playlist of music. When I started traveling, I’d often listen to a mellow album of piano music when I was trying to get to sleep. I did it so often that every time I hear those songs now, I get sleepy!
5. Wear a blindfold and/or earplugs. I learned to sleep with a bandana tied across my eyes when my sister and I had a difference of opinion about the lights in our room. Now I have a hard time sleeping without one. I’ve only used earplugs while sleeping in a campsite with friends at a music festival— when I’m solo I tend to be a bit paranoid, and like to be able to hear what’s going on around me.
6. If you can’t sleep, meditate. I have a lot of trouble sleeping in a car, and have never been able to sleep on a plane, so I spend a lot of my time with my whole body relaxed, concentrating on my breathing and allowing my consciousness to focus more and more inward. If I do it right, I can reach a state where I’m completely relaxed. Even though I can still hear and feel things, this meditative state is good enough to substitute for a nap.
7. Allow yourself enough time to get a solid eight hours. In high school when all my friends were bragging about their three- and four-hour nights, I gladly admitted I was clocking 10 hours a night. I know this essential to my attitude throughout the day. Sometimes on a trip you need to sacrifice sleep to get an opportunity, but remember: sleep is important. Make it a priority, and you’ll have a lot more fun doing everything you want to do on your trip.