How Insomnia Affects Travel And Vacation

February 7, 2018  |  
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I have struggled with insomnia since I was a little girl. When I was ten years old, my teacher called my parents into school to tell them that I’d been falling asleep in class. My parents then explained to my teacher that I had been dragging my blanket and pillow into their room at night, between three and four in the morning (a good five or six hours after my bedtime) to tell them that I had not yet fallen asleep, and to ask if I could sleep in their bed. My teacher was very patient and kind, and decided to just let me nap in class when I needed to. Perhaps he, too, was an insomniac who knew how difficult sleep could be to come by, and who sympathized with my need to get it whenever I could. Of course, the rest of the world isn’t going to be as understanding to me as an adult, and never does insomnia become more problematic than when I travel. Here is how insomnia affects travel and vacation.

"Woman sleeping alone pf"


You have to derail the day for your naps

You have to leave the tourist group, pay for an expensive taxi back to the hotel (much more expensive than the complimentary shuttle that would’ve taken you back there in two hours) because exhaustion hits at inconvenient times.

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You stay up, worried you’ll miss an experience

Because travel is rare, and you understand you only have so much vacation time, you stay awake, worried that you wont’ sleep, and that you won’t fully take in the experiences of the next day.


You don’t feel present with your partner

You feel especially guilty because, not only do you feel hundreds of miles away from this museum exhibit or this site seeing tour, but you also know that your partner feels like you aren’t experiencing this together.


New places and beds are the worst

Trips on which you change hotels and locations every couple of days are pretty much off-limits. It takes you at least three nights in a new place to sleep well, so you can’t chance locations every couple of days.


People think you’re a difficult traveler

People think you’re one of those high-maintenance travelers. You hate that they loop you in with the people who bring a suitcase just for hair accessories.


Yes, the 7am flight really is a problem

You aren’t just lazy—you don’t just dislike getting up at 4am for a flight. You don’t fall asleep until 4am so it’s a major issue.


Designated nap times don’t work for you

When you travel with a group, there is this cute thing that happens when the group announces, “This is the time we have to nap. So get some rest, and we’ll head out in an hour!” And everyone goes to sleep. On command. You don’t get to do that. You just wait for everyone to wake up again.


Friends think you don’t appreciate the trip

Because you are constantly tired, you seem unenthusiastic or even uninterested. People assume you aren’t impressed by this amazing experience you’re having, but you’re actually just on the verge of collapsing.

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Or people think you’re boring/unadventurous

You often have to sit out activities because you just don’t have the energy, or you need to try to finally nap. Some of your fellow travelers think that you’re just boring, or afraid of new experiences.

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Alcohol is complicated

Alcohol is usually a big part of vacation. But you’re usually one cocktail away from passing out, right where you are, due to exhaustion. So you don’t get to be the party animal you want to be.

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Overly scheduled days make insomnia worse

If it’s one of those active trips, with cultural activities, museum visits, and appointments every hour, on the hour, you stay up the entire night, worried about the fact that you’ll have no time to rest the next day.

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You can’t participate in active outings

You can’t do the hikes or the kayaking or the rock climbing. People think you’re not brave, or that you’re lazy.

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You feel deep regret

Throughout your trip, you feel deeply sad because you know you’re not taking things in the way you could. All of your senses are dulled, due to sleep deprivation.

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Changing time zones is a nightmare

Your entire life feels like you just changed time zones and are deeply jet-lagged. So being actually jet lagged feels like you’re on the verge of death.


You have particular room needs

You’re not a diva. You’re not spoiled. But you cannot have a room near the laundry machine, near the pool, or near the elevator because literally, every sound wakes you up.


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