5 Sleep Tips For Holiday Travel

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The holidays are already upon us and many Americans are hitting the road to see family and friends. According to AAA, 107.3 million Americans are expected to take to travel during the year-end holiday period (December 23rd January 1). The company says this will be the highest year-end travel volume on record, with a reported 3.1 percent increase in travel over with last year.

Some of us will stay close to home to visit family and friends, while others may venture several time zones away. Either way, traveling away from home can add stress and sometimes interrupt or disrupt sleep schedules (for you and the kiddos). To help you stay as refreshed and content as possible this holiday season, we’ve put together our best advice on how to manage your sleep while traveling for the holidays.

Bring a white noise machine (or add the app to your smartphone).

The beauty of a white noise machine is that it masks outside sounds. Whether you’re in an unfamiliar hotel room or on a plane, the white noise can help block out sounds that could otherwise stop you – or the kids- from catching a quick nap or getting a full night’s rest.

There are plenty of portable and travel-size white noise machines but if you’re in a real hurry or tight on space you can download apps (like Simple Noise) that produce the noise straight from your phone.


When flying, pick a window seat and bring your own travel pillow (and blanket).

If you are flying the friendly skies over the holidays, sleeping on the plane could be a game changer. Prepare yourself for this by selecting a window seat in advance so you have the ability to lean against the side of the plane.

While some airlines still provide pillows or blankets on long-haul flights, nothing is really guaranteed anymore. It’s wise to bring your own and to bring something you’re comfortable with. There are many different types of travel pillows on the market, many of which are compact but provide serious comfort.

Avoid traveling during peak travel times.

If you are on a tight schedule, it may be hard not to run right into peak holiday traffic. If you manage to avoid it you may save yourself stress and time (both of which will interfere with your sleep) and leave yourself more time to enjoy the destination.

“The best times to leave are typically early morning or after the morning commute because the roads should be less crowded and you will have more time to get to your destination safely,” says AAA. “If your schedule permits, traveling on the holiday itself often results in fewer cars on the road.”

Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Pack things that remind you of home and a good night’s sleep.

>Whether it’s your favorite pillow, a framed photo of the family dog or a little lavender pillow spray, packing items from home that we associate with comfort and rest may help us find sleep more quickly.

“As a creature of habit, sleep associate items are important for me to have when I travel,” travel blogger Emily Smith told Sleep.org. “When possible, I bring my favorite pillow and vanilla scented candle, as they both remind me of home and good night’s rest.

Stay hydrated to prevent grogginess.

Traveling across the country, or across the world, for the holidays can take a lot out of you. Skip the coffee on the plane and drink water (and plenty of it), says the team at Lifehack. They say combating the high altitude and the dryness of the air purification system on a plane by staying hydrated will help alleviate grogginess and ensure that you get the most out of your holiday time.


Featured image: NicoElNino/Shutterstock


Katie Golde

Katie Golde

Katie previously managed the day to day operations of the Mattress Clarity news site and reviews sleep products in addition to writing and editing sleep news. She hails from Austin, where she lives with her growing family. She is a Certified Sleep Science Coach and has a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University and has a background in health and science content. Her work can be found in print and online publications like Discover Magazine, USA Today and The Huffington Post.