Travel is a broad all-encompassing word, it means different things for different people. For some it might mean living out of a backpack for a year, for others it may mean staying in a lovely resort for a fortnight.
Whatever your budget and whatever your style, there’s likely one thing that all travellers can agree on – it can be tiring. Really tiring.
Different foods, new smells, bewildering languages, long-distance buses, the heat, the constant bargaining and even all the smiling can at times be exhausting. Yet sometimes on the road no matter how tired you are it can still be difficult to drop off to sleep at night.
This is true whether you’re trying to nod off under the desert stars in Morocco or on a junk in Ha Long Bay in Vietnam.
Fortunately as a seasoned traveller and poor sleeper I’ve developed some tried and tested tips that should help you get better sleep no matter where you are. Read on below to find out…
Accessorize For Resting
This is probably my top tip, mainly because it’s so very easy and the impact it can have is so large. When you travel always, and I mean always take earplugs and an eye mask with you. These two lightweight and extremely cheap accessories have saved my sleep on more occasion than I care to remember.
The benefit of eye mask and earplugs in a hostel dorm room almost goes without saying. Creaky bunks and epic shores can all be blocked out with a good pair of plugs. And the constant on/off of the overhead lights as drunken revellers return to the dorm can be banished to blackness.
It’s not just in dorm rooms that these two simple accessories can save your sleepy bacon, I have stayed at high-end resorts with curtains so thin that moonlight bouncing off the ocean has kept me awake. Similarly, just because you are somewhere where the beer costa $10 a bottle instead of $1, doesn’t mean your neighbour will be any more classy. They still might have a skinful and crank up the tunes at 4am.
Always be prepared for the worst and accessorize.
Do Your Research
If you know you sleep badly on the road then try and preempt bad nights by doing your research properly. The internet is your friend here. Before you book your bed for the night have a good read of the reviews left by others. If you see comments along the line of ‘What a great place for a party!’ or ‘I can’t believe how cheap the beer was!’, then chances are your intended accommodation might be a loud one.
Similarly check to see if your possible place to stay has their own website. If they advertise themselves as ‘the number one party place in town’ obviously steer well clear. On the flipside, if they mention that they have a curfew or a no-alcohol policy then you can probably rest assured it’s going to be a little bit quieter.
For more advice on getting better rest, at home or abroad, find out what the specialists have to say on the matter at the Sleep Advisor.
While sitting on a train or bus for a long time may make you feel weary it doesn’t qualify as exercise. The same goes for lifting multiple cocktails to your lips.
When we travel we often neglect our physical health. Which is a shame as nothing will help you sleep better than being genuinely body tired when you hit the sack. Even if you spend the vast majority of the day around the pool or at the beach relaxing, make sure you build in at least 30 minutes of exercise into your day.
I don’t really care what it is just make sure you get a little out of breath. Go for a jog on the beach, rent a kayak, climb to that temple on the hill, attend a dance class, play football with the local kids, find a holiday romance and get busy. I don’t care just do some exercise each day. Fortunately the options for exercise when you’re travelling are endless and endlessly entertaining.
Watch Your Diet
One of the best things about travel is the food and drink. It’s often tastier and cheaper than at home and it can be a constant struggle not to overindulge. Don’t worry, I’m not about to tell you to skip the good stuff and stick to the salad. I’m not a monster!
I am going to tell you however that when you eat and drink certain foods is more important when it comes to sleep that what you consume. Avoid wherever possible having protein heavy meals in the hour or two before bed. Those Argentinian steaks taste are amazing but they take a lot of digesting. With all that churning going on below it’s not surprising your body struggles to fall to sleep.
Similarly watch what you drink, many countries have strong coffee cultures, but if your body is not used to four espressos a day, you are going to pay for it with hours and hours of lost sleep. Watch out also as many cocktails contain caffeine.
I’m not saying don’t indulge, I am just saying indulge at the right time.
Well, there you have it – four top tips to help you get a little more shuteye on the road. Hopefully with a little bit more rest you will be better able to enjoy that once in a lifetime trip.