Sleep Better When You Travel

Do you wish you could sleep better when you travel?

Join.The.Club. (And then read my tips… I *think* I have it figured out!)

I have a confession to make. Despite all the nights we’ve spent away from home, I often struggle to sleep when we travel. Whether I’m on a redeye flight or in a luxurious hotel bed, I toss and turn. A lot.

For years I coped okay with this issue. Sure, I often felt exhausted while traveling. But I learned to love coffee. And I can rally for fun travel moments.

Unfortunately, sleep deprivation for days on end always led to a big crash and burn when I’d return home. I often found myself sick. But I just chalked it up as something I could live with. A trade off for travel.

But then I realized my daughter struggled with the same issues.

I would listen to her fight sleep in a hotel bed (because, of course, I was laying awake too!) But it wasn’t until we were on an overnight flight that it really became an issue. In a rare moment, I’d actually fallen asleep. And I *might* have lost my mind a little when she woke me up to tell me that she couldn’t sleep.

At that point I decided I needed to do something to help us learn to sleep better when we travel. I began being intentional about certain decisions I made throughout the day that ultimately led to better sleep. I also did some trial and error on what helped us both go to sleep more quickly when we travel.

Here are my 10 best tips for getting better sleep:

  1. 1. Drink Water In The AM: It’s very common when you travel to get dehydrated. It can also be typical to realize it towards the end of the day, and try to make up for it. There’s nothing worse than waking up several times a night to use the bathroom when you travel. So now I try to drink the bulk of my water in the morning when we’re traveling.
  1. 2. Be Mindful of Caffeine/Sugar: We also like to indulge on vacation. This might mean ordering a coke with dinner or a big dessert. Unfortunately, the caffeine and sugar will have such a negative impact on your ability to sleep. We still enjoy a treat, but now we try splurge at lunch or mid-afternoon rather than dinnertime.
  2. 3. Roll Lavender Oil: It wasn’t until we stayed at a hotel with a Lavender Essential Oil packet on our pillow that I realized how much it could actually help! Lavender can help you fall asleep faster and enhance your quality of sleep. Now I never travel without a Roll on Lavender Essential Oil. (I’ve also found it’s not a very offense smell so I don’t mind using it on a plane to sleep better! This one is small enough to go through security.)
  1. 4. Pick Your Location: There is nothing worse than ending up with the hotel room right next to the elevator. If at all possible, request a room change if you find yourself assigned to that spot!
  2. 5. Bring a comfort item: Yes, I’m a 30-something year old that still travels with a blanket…but it helps me sleep better so I don’t care! If you’re traveling by car- bring your own pillow or blanket. And if you are flying overnight- make sure you have a great neck pillow and oversized sweatshirt or soft jacket that doubles as a blanket.
  1. 6. Put down your electronics: It’s so tempting to scroll through social media or watch videos while waiting to get tired. But looking at a screen actually has the opposite effect on your body. Force yourself to turn off the device. I actually try to plug my phone in across the room so I’m not tempted to reach for it.
  2. 7. Stop Earlier: If you’re like me, you try to pack as much into a travel day as possible. I maximize every second. Unfortunately, that means I don’t typically give myself time to unwind before bed. I expect my body to go from active to sleeping in a matter of minutes. I’ve noticed that if we stop earlier and settle into our hotel room, I fall asleep much better when it’s actually time to go to sleep.
  3. 8. Clean Up: Even if I’m not going to take a full shower before bed, I love to wash off my feet when we’re traveling. Weird, I know. But somehow it makes me sleep better. If I’m on a plane I try to go to the bathroom and wash my face either in the airport before boarding or on the plane before I’m trying to go to sleep. Sticking to a bedtime routine can really help while traveling.
  1. 9. Play Soft Music: I won’t name names, but someone in our family snores occasionally. When we’re all sharing a small hotel room, this can be extra annoying. Likewise, on a plane there can be a lot of extra noise. I’ve found a great Pandora channel called Sleepytime Tunes. They’ve turned popular songs into lullabies.
  2. 10. Give Up: If all else fails, give up on trying to sleep. I’m totally serious. If nothing else is working- read a book, or find a great movie on TV. Sometimes I think the harder you try to sleep, the worse it makes it. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve given up, found an awesome movie on TV that I really want to see, and then fallen asleep within 5 minutes!

A few more ideas for better sleep when you travel:

  • Take Melatonin: I’ve never used this personally, but people swear by it. They even make a kids’ version. I will link both that I’ve seen recommended.
  • Sleep Mask: My daughter actually uses one occasionally and thinks it’s great. Bonus: she looks pretty cute wearing it too!
  • Noise Cancelling Headphones: Again, not something I use- but if noise is your issue, you should definitely invest in this type of product!

Do you have any tricks to get better sleep when you travel? If so, leave a comment!

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You may also enjoy reading:

6 Airline Hacks For Flying With Kids

Renting A Car For Travel: Pros, Cons and Worst Case Scenario 

Strange Things We Bring On Family Vacations

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