Sleep Gear for Adventure Travel

Don’t let a lack of sleep ruin your trip. Here’s what to pack for better rest when on the go.

Study after study has shown the importance of sleep for good health. Sufficient sleep can boost the immune system, improve your mood, reduce stress, and strengthen your memory—to name a few benefits that are always valuable, but especially welcome when you’re off on an adventure. Of course, real adventure is not always comfortable or on schedule, which can make it doubly hard to get the sleep you need in the first place.

Thankfully, a few lightweight and packable tools can help you sleep easier even in tough environments. Here’s what to pack.   

Ear Plugs 

This is a no-brainer. Ear plugs are cheap, widely available, and perhaps the lightest weight sleep aid on the market. Make sure you have a pair of foam or wax earplugs handy so you’re always equipped to deploy them in order to block out the sounds around you, from the crying baby behind you on the plane to never-ending street noise outside your hostel window. Make sure to buy earplugs with a case or give them a dedicated spot in your toiletries kit so you don’t lose them. Buying tip: Foam earplugs last longer and are a little more comfortable than wax ones. 

Noise Cancelling Headphones

Prefer to listen to music or a white noise app while you sleep? Noise cancelling headphones are more spendy than conventional earbuds (by a long shot), but a good pair enables you to listen only to the sound of your choice. Noise cancelling headphones are a game-changer on a noisy plane or train. 

Inflatable Pillow

Don’t get overwhelmed by the choices, and don’t be tempted by foam pillows that are comfy but too bulky for travel. Keep it simple with an inflatable travel pillow: they’re big and comfy when you blow them up, take up almost no space and add no weight when they’re deflated, and are way more comfortable than a bunched up fleece. Tip: slightly under inflate the pillow for maximum malleability and versatility. 

Eye Mask

Rule #1 of travel: sleep when you can. Sometimes that means snoozing during the day, or when the lights come on mid-flight for a meal you don’t want. Eye masks save the day at these times and any others when light intrudes. We like the kind with cups over the eyes, which makes the mask more comfortable. 

Sleeping Bag Liner 

A sleeping bag liner or a lightweight blanket is a must have—it’s really difficult to sleep if you’re a little chilly. Sleeping bag liners in particular have a host of other benefits for travel. They’re ideal when you find yourself in a questionably clean hotel room (some hostels require them), they keep your sleeping bag clean, and add 5 to 15 degrees of warmth. Liners come in many different materials but silk is the gold standard. Silk costs more, but it’s lightweight, cozy, and naturally thermoregulating (it helps insulate in the cold, and breathes well in the heat). 

A Cozy Hoodie  

Never underestimate the power of a soft sweatshirt with a hood. Just put in your earplugs, put on your mask, and pull that hood around your head. Instant sleep cave. Hoodies made of merino wool are great for travel because they’re naturally resistant to odor. 

Money Belt

It can be difficult to fall asleep on public transit if you’re anxious about protecting your belongings. A money belt or luggage lock can offer peace of mind in public spaces and allow you to keep your valuables—your passport, wallet, and phone—close to your body so you can catch some much-needed shuteye. 

Sleep Aids

If all else fails, a natural sleep aid like melatonin—a hormone produced by the body that regulates sleep cycles—can help signal to your brain that it’s time for bed. Typically darkness triggers the body to produce melatonin, but jet lag can disrupt the process.

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.