This post has been sponsored by Orkin Pest Control, but all opinions remain my own.
Every time I climb into my super plush king-sized bed at home, I snuggle in and literally say “ahhhhhhhhhh” out loud. My husband does the same. Every night. It’s just so gooooooood! There is just something about sleeping in your own bed, that you’ve carefully curated with sheets, pillows, firmness, and anything else that make it the most comfortable spot in your home. I can fall asleep within minutes and sleep so soundly that I wake up not having moved an inch from where I drifted off. It’s that good.
But what happens when you travel? Not only are you sleeping in not-your-bed, but a strange room in an unfamiliar town. No matter how many hotels, motels, timeshares, cruises or B&B’s I’ve stayed in over the years, I always have issues with getting to sleep and staying asleep. I’ve gradually figured out four tried-and-true methods that have helped me to overcome the “lumpy bed with weird noises insomnia” I tend to get while traveling. If you find you have trouble getting a good night’s sleep when you travel too, try these 4 tips that have worked for me (especially when you do them ALL together!)
Sanitize and Squash the Fear of Bed Bugs
Right off the bat, there are a few “housekeeping” things I do the moment I walk into a hotel room. I sanitize commonly touched surfaces with an anti-bacterial wipe. Places that have a lot of germs like the TV remote control, light switches, door knobs, drawer handles, telephone and toilet flush handle get a thorough wipe down and then I move on to the linens. Any decorative pillows on the bed immediately get tossed onto the floor, as does the comforter or any blanket on top (although nowadays the nicer properties have taken to sandwiching the comforter within two sheets as a sort of duvet cover – which is genius!).
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My suitcase goes straight onto the folding suitcase holder, or if there isn’t one, then the coffee table or any hard, non-porous surface. NEVER EVER PUT YOUR SUITCASE ON THE CARPET, COUCH OR BED! This is one of the most common ways people unknowingly take bed bugs home or to the next property on their vacation, according to Orkin Pest Control.
Ew. Bed bugs. Just typing that makes me cringe and get all itchy.
Many people only associate bed bugs with seedier or less expensive accommodations, but in reality, even the fanciest 5-star hotel has the potential to harbor these pests. They typically get brought in by other guests who don’t even know they are carrying the hitchhikers in. And once indoors, they can be very difficult to control without the help of an experienced pest control professional.
Fun Bed Bug Fact: Bed bugs give off a distinctively sweet odor some say is comparable to rotting raspberries.
Luckily, there are a few things you can do to make yourself feel more at ease about the room you’re staying in. Sweeping for bed bugs is actually pretty quick and easy.
I keep a compact LED blacklight flash light in my suitcase at all times and use it to search for bed bugs. An easy way to remember what to do is use Orkin Pest Control’s S.L.E.E.P. acronym to inspect for bed bugs:
Survey the hotel room for signs of an infestation. Be on the lookout for tiny, ink-colored stains on mattress seams, in soft furniture and behind headboards.
Lift and look in bed bug hiding spots: (1) the mattress, (2) box spring and other furniture like (3) couch cushions and (4) chairs, as well as behind baseboards, (5) pictures and even torn wallpaper.
Elevate luggage away from the bed and wall. The safest places are on the luggage rack, in the bathroom or on counters.
Examine your luggage carefully while repacking and once you return home from a trip. Always store luggage away from the bed. As an additional precautionary measure, I also place bed bug mattress protector covers on all our mattresses at home. They are usually waterproof and dust mite resistant as well, so I highly recommend doing this.
Place all dryer-safe clothing from your luggage in the dryer for at least 15 minutes at the highest setting immediately upon returning home.
*If you think you might have brought bed bugs home from a trip, contact a licensed pest control provider immediately. To reach your local Orkin Pest Control branch, call 877-284-7429.
I’ve found that once I feel like my space is clean and bed bug free, a huge weight is lifted off my shoulders and I can really start settling in to my temporary home away from home.
Make it Smell Like Home
Of all our senses – sight, touch, taste, smell and sound – I feel like “smell” has the most impact on us. A foul smell can elicit uncontrollable adverse physical reactions, while something familiar to cooking like spices can cause your tummy to rumble. A whiff of smoky cedar can take you back to your first camping trip or peppermint might make you hum your favorite Christmas songs.
I never officially jumped on the essential oils bandwagon, believing it to be a bunch of ballyhooey or the latest work from home money-making scheme – but lemme tell you what. Some of this stuff really does work! Some scents really are calming, and honestly, having a consistent, pleasant scent that you can carry with you and surround yourself with provides a sense of familiarity that is hugely comforting.
While technically you can use lavender oil alone for its calming effects, I went ahead and made my own hotel room/linen spray mixture using a few different essential oils I like.
Jeana’s Smells Like Home Hotel and Linen Spray
I spray this mist on the linens, curtains, chairs, pillows, carpet – wherever. It’s light, refreshing and just makes everything smell nice. Sort of like home. Having the same scent regardless of where I go, instantly puts my mind at ease. I’m pretty sure I’ve trained my nose and brain Pavlovian style to decompress upon inhaling this scent. You can too :)
Calm Your Thoughts
A lot of travelers I know carry a white noise machine with them as a means to lull their brains to sleep and keep themselves from thinking too much at bedtime. I haven’t found these to be as useful as a specific “Sleepy Time” playlist of your favorite mellow songs.
I’ve found that playing this (not on shuffle) each night at bedtime is really helpful for falling asleep quickly. The words keep me focused on the music instead of thinking about work or things I need to do, and by allowing the list to play in the same order each time, my brain isn’t distracted by wondering which song is coming on next – it already knows!
This was actually my very first (and for a long time, only) method for getting myself to sleep. In the beginning, it would take me 5-7 songs to start to slip away. However now, again because of the consistency, my brain knows it’s time to go to sleep when that first song comes on, and I’m usually out before it even ends.
Tip: Travel with a compact portable Bluetooth speaker that is multi-functional. I like this one because it isn’t too big, but produces great sound – perfect for when I’m rocking out in the shower or putting on my makeup. It’s also waterproof and rugged so I can use it at the beach or pool and it can easily clip to just about anything so it’s easy to tote along with you.
Use a Woobie
An ex-boyfriend of mine used to sleep with one of those amazingly soft t-shirts (black) draped over his eyes. The first time I saw him like this, I laughed. He explained that his “woobie” was the best thing ever and he couldn’t get to sleep without it. I tried it once and I was hooked. I don’t know the science behind having something with a little bit of weight resting on your eyes and face, but it’s very comforting. Almost like having someone gently pet your head or rest their hand on your shoulder. It just feels soothing. The added bonus is that it also blocks out all the light. Even that pesky light that you can see through your closed eyelids while your eyeballs won’t stop racing back and forth.
While my preferred item is the softest black tank top I own, I’ve found that these weighted eye pillows work well too. The benefit to using something like this is that it is a bit of an “upgrade” and also multifunctional. You can cool it or heat it and use it for sore muscles or headaches too! I also like to dab this Goodnight Sleep Blend on my temples and pretend like I’m at some fancy day spa that I’ve spent a ton of money just to be able to sleep uninterrupted by kids or husbands for a few precious hours…
All joking aside, what I’ve found is that there is something comforting in consistency and routine. I’m not sure why it took me so long to figure out, since as mothers, we know our children thrive best on this! But by doing this sort of mini ritual, I’ve been able to get over those hard pillows and scratchy sheets during my travels to get a good night’s sleep. Because after all, while I want to be comfortable in my room, I’m really more interested in what’s outside and having the energy to explore my new destination!