How To Get Good Sleep When Backpacking


Getting good sleep can seem impossible, especially in the beginning of a trip. With so many forms of excitement and stimulation, sometimes winding down is difficult. I experienced this in Panama. Even when I was relaxing, I was constantly alert and afraid of missing something.

Part of me still isn’t great at sleeping while traveling. Sure, I can doze off. But when I know I need to get a good nights rest for the following day…it might not work. However, I’ve gotten better and have compiled some tricks that I’ve come across.

Get into a routine.

I’m not saying have a daily set routine. I’m saying to give yourself a process to fall asleep. When your mind gets into a routine, it identifies indicators of when to do something. For example, I wash my face, turn out the lights, take off my shoes, turn down the brightness on my phone, read for 20 minutes and then fall asleep. My mind knows that when I turn off that phone, it’s sleepy time.

Dont party every night.

I find that when I go out more than 2-3 days, my mind starts to look forward to partying. “What? You’re trying to sleep!? We haven’t even gone out yet!” So make going out an occasional thing, but don’t let it be the primary thing you do before you fall asleep. Sure, getting drunk will help you sleep, but once you rely on it to fall asleep, that sucks.

Realize that you can’t do everything all at once.

There’s always a thousand things to do. Have conversation, drink, dance, museums, sightseeing, text, email, meetup with friends somewhere, etc. Don’t try to do it all at once. Plan out the next 24 hours, keep it flexible, but put time aside for yourself. Seriously, sleeping from 4AM to 8AM is going to kill your energy.

It’s ok to say “no” to doing some things.

There will be people you miss meeting. You will not see everything everywhere. You will not have every possible life experience at this one destination. And that’s ok. When I was in college, I had a buddy that slept 3 hours a night because he wanted to do everything everywhere with everyone. He was known for getting sick often and falling asleep at random places (like restaurants and mid-conversation). Don’t be that guy. If you’re not travelling enough and trying to pack everything into a short trip, then realize that your trip will not be fun if you are not somewhat rested.

Know that there will be future opportunities.

You can always travel more. You can always meet new people. The world will not end tomorrow. Have a ton of fun, but realize that the fun doesn’t have to end if you don’t want it to. Get some rest, enjoy your travels and then plan another trip to pack more fun things into.

By the way, the guy in the picture is a random person sleeping and has no idea his pic is online. Thanks nice stranger for the great pose!