How to survive life on the road

Blogger: Jane Kitchen
Jane Kitchen 9-18-13websiteMany people these days find themselves spending the night in unfamiliar territory throughout the year as they travel for business, often to other time zones or even other countries. But the combination of new surroundings, time changes, work pressures, alcohol intake, and potentially loud neighbors (especially if, like me, you often travel to places like Las Vegas) make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep — often when you need it most. The point of business travel, after all, is usually to make a good impression face-to-face, but if you’re lacking in the zzz’s department, a face-to-face can actually backfire.

Having traveled for work fairly regularly for the past 15 years, I’ve come up with a few tricks to make sure I stay as well-rested as possible when sleeping on the road.

  • Book your flight at a reasonable time of day. It’s no good making that 5:25 a.m. flight for a 9:00 meeting if you arrive exhausted and useless. If possible, take a flight out the night before to avoid waking up at 3 a.m. and showing up bleary-eyed and thick-headed.
  • Read reviews to check hotel noise levels. Sites like Tripadvisor make it easy to read up on hotels before booking, so if you have a choice of where to stay, this can be particularly useful. I always look for multiple mentions of traffic noise or other negative comments that let me know that my sleep might be interrupted — a big no-no when I’m traveling for business.
  • Ask for a quiet room. It sounds simple, but most hotels are more than happy to accommodate this request and put you in a room at the end of a hall or facing away from the street. On the other hand, if you don’t ask for a quiet room, you could wind up across from an elevator that dings all night, or next to the noise of ice or vending machines, or facing a busy street — all of which can contribute to an interrupted night’s sleep. Tripadvisor can be a great help for finding a quiet room, too — look for the section on “room tips,” where people offer advice on which rooms are quietest, biggest, or have the best view (not that that impacts your sleep, but still).
  • Limit your alcohol intake. This can be a tough one when you’re traveling for business, as work often continues into the evening with cocktail hours, dinners, galas, or other events. But drinking too much, while it might put you to sleep quickly to begin with, can lead to interrupted sleep later on. Plus you want to be in tip-top shape the next day, right?
  • Bring an eyemask. Especially when you’re changing time zones, these can be invaluable. The kind of black-out curtains you find in hotels are a plus, sure, but I’ve often been awakened by that tiny sliver of light that escapes through the crack. A good eyemask is a must, and don’t be afraid to splurge when it comes to price — inferior models can often leave the same kinds of gaps as those curtains, and that doesn’t do anyone any good.
  • Say goodnight to your device. I know–and I hope you do too–that all that blue light that your phones and tablets are emitting is detrimental to your sleep. Blue light in particular messes with your circadian rhythms, so as tempting as it may be to crawl into bed and catch up with your friends on Facebook, don’t do it.
  • That said, put your device to good use. If, despite your best efforts, you do find yourself stuck in a noisy room, download a white noise app to your phone, such as Sleep Pillow or White Noise Box, and use the gentle sounds of rain, waves, or plain old white noise to drown out those distractions and lull yourself to sleep. Many of these apps are free, and are especially handy when traveling.
  • Find an alarm that works for you. One of the things I hate about traveling is not having my tried-and-true alarm clock, which unfortunately is not portable. I’ve spent some time experimenting with different alarm apps to get the one that works best for me, but there are lots of options out there, from motivational alarms to “smart” alarms to earthquake alarms, in case you’re really worried about oversleeping for that presentation. But once you’ve figured out what works best for you — and it won’t be the same for everyone — you’ll sleep much better if you’re not worried about not hearing your wake-up call (or worse yet, the front desk forgetting it!). I find I’m always happier if I’ve set my alarm myself and I know it’s something that will wake me up, but not jarr me out of sleep. To me, an abrupt wake-up can ruin an entire good night’s sleep, and that would be a huge waste — especially after you’ve spent all this time making sure you’ve slept well.


  1. Annemarie – I am crying tears of joy too. Motherhood, there’s nniothg like it, and no one can fully explain it until you experience it. It’s magical, joyous and above all, such a blessing! You are truly blessed my dearest daughter, and I am so happy you appreciate it. You remind me of the joy we shared when you were our little bundle of love enjoy each breath of it, each minute, because soon it will be a memory, and your cherished child will be an adult making his way in the world without you. There’s nniothg more blessed than what you two are experiencing now savor it well, as I know you are!

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