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How to Travel Restfully

This is the time of year when many of us peel ourselves away from work and head out on vacation, that blissful week or so of relaxation, new experiences and “getting-away-from-it-all.”

But oftentimes, traveling is anything but restful. (Especially if you’re traveling with young children!)

There’s packing and driving and flying and waiting for your connection and more flying…there’s sitting scrunched up in seats designed for miniature people and then, at the end of it all, there’s a strange pillow on a strange bed in a strange room.

It’s no wonder so many of us come back saying, “I need a vacation after my vacation!”

Now, we’re not asserting that any of this is bad. We’re incredibly lucky to live in a time when humans can travel all over the world, and vacations are awesome.

In planes, trains and even in cars, it’s amazing how much ground we cover when, just a little more than a century ago, most people lived and died mainly in their hometowns. This relatively small amount of travel was certainly the norm before railways came along!

But look at us now—we move to different states and countries, we roam far and wide, we commute long distances and visit faraway places sometimes several times each year.

The world has opened up in exciting ways. Each of us has all kinds of glorious, exotic locations to choose from when picking the perfect vacation spot for a summer getaway.

But all of this coming and going is exhausting. Sleep and travel don’t always mix well. So here are some tips to help you sleep well out on the dusty trail:

  • Leave plenty of time to get where you’re going and expect delays. That’ll help you keep stress at bay. Stress is just…all bad.
  • While the old saying is sometimes true: “A change is as good as a rest,” don’t get so caught up in go-see-doing that you don’t rest! Leave plenty of time for sleeping and you’ll enjoy everything else more.
  • Exercise and eat right the day before your trip so you’ll sleep better the following night. But don’t do a crazy workout that’ll give you stiff, sore muscles on the plane—take it from us, that is NOT a recipe for pleasant travel.
  • Exercise on your trip. You’ll sleep better.
  • If you’re traveling across time zones, consider a flight that will arrive in the morning, setting up your circadian rhythms to adjust optimally to the time change.
  • Cut off jet lag at the pass by avoiding long naps in the middle of the day. You’ll adapt to the local time zone faster if you stave off those droopy eyelids long enough to get past sundown. If you’re feeling really tired, a quick snooze for 10-20 minutes will help without messing up your adjustment.
  • Remember the general guideline that it takes one day to adjust to every hour of time zone change.
  • Don’t overload on caffeine. It can stay in your body for roughly 12 hours, keeping you awake when all you want is to sleep.
  • Try packing essential oils to help you sleep soundly—we’ve found that lavender and citrus applied to the soles of the feet work especially well for getting to sleep and staying asleep longer.
  • Some hotels put more of a premium on sleep than others. You could pay top dollar and still get a hideous mattress. Research where you’ll be staying before you book, to ensure it’s a rest-friendly spot.