So you’re supposed to be having the time of your life eh? Travelling the globe, seeing the wonders of the world, getting involved in crazy adventures, meeting new and interesting people.
But so far you’ve snoozed at the Great Wall of China, slept through sunrise at Angkor Wat and snored your way through countless other ‘must-see’ sights.
What nobody tells you before you leave home on your first big adventure is that travel is exhausting. Countless nightmare night buses, overcrowded trains and bumpy tuk tuk journeys take their toll. And that’s even before you’ve arrived at your destination.
When you eventually find a bed for the night you discover that being tired as a dog has no correlation to how well you’re going to sleep. Noisy dorm mates, lumpy mattresses, sweaty rooms and weird night time noises all conspire to keep you up at night.
Alas, you’re supposed to being living your dream but sometimes the life of a world wandering can feel a little bit more like a waking nightmare! But don’t despair, don’t pack up and go home just yet all you need to do is add a few little accessories to your backpack.
Earplugs, an eye mask and something comfy to rest your head on are all easy wins. But below are my own personal top three travel accessories for getting enough sleep on the road…
A pocket full of podcasts
Not a conventional sleep accessory as such, but nothing helps me drift off better on the road than being able to pop my ear plugs in and listen to a podcast.
Being able to escape into a land of interesting chat has saved me from dubious in-journey entertainment choices of many a night bus driver. Myanmar I’m talking about you here.
Now whenever I know I have a long journey ahead of me I make absolutely sure my smartphone is loaded up with enough episodes of my favourite shows to get me through the night.
There are countless podcasts out there to choose from – selecting the right shows to help you relax and get into a sleepy mood is something of a skill. The content has to be engaging enough to distract you from external noises but not so interesting that you can’t drift off to sleep. Experiment a little and if you find any gems let me know.
And don’t worry if you fall asleep before the episode finishes, that’s the point after all. Simply rewind and listen to them again on your next journey.
The mighty mosquito net
This one is very much location and season dependent. If you’re heading to Iceland to see the Northern Lights then you can probably skip on down to the next accessory below.
If however you’re heading to the tropics and rainy season has just finished then a mosquito net is a very very good call. In my experience nothing can ruin a night’s sleep quickly than the telltale whine of a mosquito buzzing past your ear seconds after you’ve gone to bed.
You can turn on the lights, roll up that magazine and go on the hunt – but believe me it never works. You might splat one, or even two, but where there’s one there’s more.
Firstly you have malaria, zika, dengue or one of those other pesky vector-borne diseases to worry about. Even if they aren’t a problem in your chosen destination, then there’s still the little issue of the blood flying vampires leaving you with legs full of itchy bites to deal with in the morning.
You could of course bathe your entire body in mosquito spray before hitting the sack. DEET however is a fairly strong chemical and probably not something you want to be marinating in overnight unless you really have to.
Plus it smells horrible and feels super sticky, not a great combination if you’re trying to lull yourself to sleep. So, what’s the solution. A net of course. The good news is in recent years travel nets have become a lot more lightweight and portable than in times gone by.
The tremendous travel wrap
Call it what you will. A sarong, pashmina, kikoy, pareo, longyi or simply just a travel wrap. The name isn’t important, whatever it’s called it would be a sa-rong move to leave home without one!
Sa-rong, gettit? Ah, nevermind!
During the day the travel wrap has multiple uses, it can be worn as a skirt, used as sun shade or a shopping bag, or even double up as a beach towel.
At night the travel wrap can take on many new roles to help you sleep. I’ve used mine as a blanket for warmth on freezing plane rides and overly air conditioned night bus journeys. Rolled up I’ve used it as a pillow and and as sheet when I haven’t quite trusted the hygiene levels of my accommodation.
I’ve found having some material to wrap myself in provides a nice bit of protection from prying eyes when I’ve bedded down in an airport or train station. And best of all if i’m staying in dorm I like to hang my wrap up over the entrance to my bunk to provide myself with a little privacy from the room.
Well that’s a wrap for my top travel accessories for sleep. These three have helped me drift off to sleep on the road more times than I can remember. Alongside the eye mask, earplugs and a travel pillow, I consider them essential travel accessories for any world wanderer.