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Sleep on Vacation: 14 Tips to Help

Close up of child resting in bedroom and sleeping on the bed

Sleep on vacation can seem elusive….  Travel anxiety can cause sleep problems as well as take away from an amazing adventure.  From worrying about delayed flights to if you will like the food, no wonder travel and anxiety can go together.  Anxiety can also make it hard to sleep, especially on your first night in a new place.

Here are some strategies that can be used to help reduce anxiety and improve sleep on vacation


Do a guided meditation to help sleep on vacation. You can use guided meditations from an app such as Headspace or Calm.  Meditating is a way to not only improve sleep and reduce anxiety but also improves focus and overall happiness.

Smells like home

Bring a scent that relaxes you such as a small bottle of lavender spray to use on your pillows.  Sometimes, the familiar can help you relax and improve your sleep on vacation.

Sweat it out

Try to get a lot of exercise the first day that you are traveling.  Go to the farthest smoothie stop at the airport. Take a swim in the hotel pool before heading to bed.  Exercise will not only let you “work out” some anxiety but will wear off your nervous energy and improve your sleep on vacation.

Wash away worries

Take a bath or shower before bed. The warm water raises the body temperature and as the body returns to normal, it is easier to fall asleep.

Get outside

Try to get fresh air. Take a walk around the hotel or walk to a local coffee shop.

Change your thoughts

Think about the great things you will do on vacation. Change your thoughts from the negative such as, “I miss home,” or “This trip will be a disaster,” to neutral or positive such as “I have traveled before and it was ok,” or “I am going to have an great adventure and then go home.”

Face it! – Confront your anxiety

You can expect anxiety to show up when you on this trip if it has shown up on other trips.  By expecting anxiety to show up, you are able to prevent it from growing. Tell anxiety not to ruin your trip! Use your inner voice to say to anxiety, “Hello.  Now go away.”

Comforts of home

Bring your favorite slippers, sleep mask, stuffed animal, etc. You can also look at pictures of family or home on your phone and think warm positive thoughts about your loved ones.

A cup of tea

Have a cup of caffeine-free tea before bed. Make your tea a mindful experience.  Think about the feeling of the warm mug in your hands, the color of the tea, the taste of the tea.

Avoid caffeine

Limit those airport coffee drinks or pop. Caffeine can add to both sleep problems and anxiety.

Turn it off

Turn off electronics, except to listen to a meditation, at least 30 minutes before going to bed.

Read – Enjoy a calm book before bed

A religious book or a text may be more beneficial than an exciting book such as a thriller that you can’t put down and go to sleep.

Color it!

Bring a coloring book and some markers or colored pencils. You can also bring some plain paper and draw some zentangles. Click here to learn how to make a zentangle.

Write it down

Putting thoughts to paper in a journal before bed is a good way to clear your mind for sleep. You may want to start a gratitude journal.  A gratitude journals is a place where you write three things or people that you appreciate each day.  Practicing gratitude is effective for increasing happiness and improving sleep.

If you find that your anxiety is preventing you from enjoying your trip at all or you find yourself struggling with anxiety on a regular basis, you may want to consider therapy.  Hope Springs Behavior Consultants offers treatment of anxiety for both children and adults.

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