My Experience with Travel and Sleep

sleep issues in London

Today’s Culture with Travel post is by Stephanie Annon

My number one bucket list item is to travel to all 50 states. I’m halfway there! I absolutely love traveling and would rather spend all of my savings seeing parts of our beautiful world. The past few years I’ve saved up and spent more time traveling abroad. I’ve learned a ton and had the best experiences (and food!), but one of my biggest challenges has been sleep while traveling. Long plane rides, time zone changes, and travel arrangements are seriously no joke.

Fortunately, I’ve screwed up enough times with different experiences to have learned the best hacks to getting your best night’s sleep while traveling. Traveling shouldn’t be ruined over lost sleep. Below are scenarios from three of my sleep experiences in Scotland, England, and Italy along with easy tips on how to get better sleep on your trips so you can enjoy traveling 10x more. Sleeping overseas doesn’t have to be a nightmare.

1) Staying in a hostel in Scotland and getting no sleep: HORRIBLE

I had never stayed in a hostel before. I was ballin’ on a budget, and the hostel was my cheapest option. Plus, I thought it would be a cool experience. My friends in college used to stay in them all of the time, so I didn’t think it would be terrible. The hostel was fine, but oh-my-gosh, the guy snoring near me was ungodly. Truly, never had I heard a sound like it before. I tried putting my pillow over my head, but it didn’t work. It was hard enough to relax sleeping next to strangers (I was so paranoid I slept with my backpack).  Talk about regrets. While I was struggling for sleep I was wishing I had spent a little more money.

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Tip: If you go to a hostel, take ear plugs. And maybe your significant other for protection. Or splurge and spend a little more money for your own room.

2) Traveling to London

I was so excited for this trip! I couldn’t even sleep the night before at home because London was the #1 place on my list to visit in Europe. However, as if I wasn’t tired enough, I was EXHAUSTED from the jet lag. The flight was six hours and the time change was a five hour difference. Because of the time difference, it would technically take my body five days to adjust to the timezone. I immediately crashed when I got to my hotel room instead of going out with my friends, which I regretted. My mood was a whole different story.

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Tip: Don’t nap when you get there. Try to stay awake until night time so you don’t throw your body off. You can also start adjusting to the other country’s time zone before you leave. At least a week before your trip, make sure you are going to bed and waking up at the same time, not using your phone before bed, and have the proper sleep environment. Sleeping in a cool room and having the right mattress work wonders on getting your best sleep.

3) Airbnb in Venice 

This was a weekend trip with my best friend that we had been planning for months while we were studying abroad. We were dying to go on the gondolas. The pictures from Venice had always amazed me. Our trip was perfect . . can’t complain about the pizza, wine, and gelato. I wish I could say the same about our sleeping arrangements.

We stayed in an Airbnb down a small narrow alley tucked behind the Rialto bridge which was super hard to find, especially coming home late after sipping limoncello by the river. We had used Airbnbs before and had fine experiences, but this was a very small Airbnb with a very tiny A/C unit that did nothing to help you beat the heat. We were miserably hot and didn’t sleep at all. We joked about how we should have stayed by the river all night.

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Tip: Pack light pajamas (or sleep nude if feeling risqué), and bring a small fan. I have started bringing a hand-held fan every time I travel now, and I can’t tell you the amount of times it’s come in handy. My friends have started bringing one too and they have said it’s been a game changer. Our bodies were made to sleep better in cool conditions. Also, be aware that Airbnbs abroad might not be the same as they are where you’re from. 

Hopefully these tips encourage you to travel more if you are worried about sleep issues. Traveling truly is the most incredible way to spend your money, meet the coolest people that later become friends, and indulge the most delicious food. When well-rested, you love it all a million times more.

Stephanie Annon is a freelance writer from Raleigh, NC. You can find her trying a new fitness class or planning her next vacation when she’s not busy writing. Follow Stephanie on Instagram: @Originallystephanie

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