Getting a good night's rest in a new place can be challenging for people who travel solo. Hotel accommodations vary wildly, from the beds to the ambient sounds in the room, and the ability to relax in your environment is absolutely key to settling into a sound sleep.
The first key to being able to relax is knowing that you’ll wake up in the morning, so always take your own alarm clock. Being anxious over not waking up is eliminated when you have your own wake up call – and being anxious over not waking up is a big issue in falling asleep in the first place. Many cell phones have an alarm feature. Check yours out to see if yours will serve a dual purpose.
Scent can be a powerful way to relax, so the second key to relaxing is creating an environment that’s pleasant and restful. One thing you can do is pack a dryer sheet and a paper clip in your luggage. If the hotel room is a little musty or needs to be freshened up and you’re sensitive to odors, you can unfold the dryer sheet and the paper clip, and affix it to the air conditioning/heating unit. The scent from the dryer sheet will usually help freshen up the room and make it more pleasant. Another trick is to buy a small, airline-acceptable-sized bottle of lavender or vanilla-scented lotion. You can then use regular tissue to create a potpourri effect in the room. Just pour lotion on your hands, and rub the lotion into the tissues. Put the tissues on a glass or washcloth next to your bed, and it will lightly scent the room while you fall asleep.
Music can also be a great way to relax. If you have an mp3 player, you can create a playlist of your favorite soothing music, and pick up a pair of travel speakers. They range from $10 to well over $100, so do your research and select speakers that fit your price range and how frequently you travel. If you travel with a laptop, you can also use the media player on your computer. Just make sure that any lights that might flash or attract your attention – and detract from your rest – are out of your line of sight.
It's also important to plan for time to unwind in your hotel room, and test your environment – and do it before you lay down to go to bed. Pull the pillows out from under the bedspread and lay down on the bed. If you can’t get comfortable in the first 60 seconds, falling asleep may be difficult when it’s time for lights out. You can request extra pillows or blankets from the front desk to try to create a more comfortable sleeping situation. Depending on the hotel, if you wait until you’re already in bed to test out if you can sleep on it, you may be getting up, getting dressed, and making a trip to the front desk to get additional supplies.
Another great way to help relax is to find a hotel chain that you like - and stick with it. Many chains will have similarities that can create a familiar environment - no matter where you go.
With a little advance planning, the last thing you’ll have to worry about on your solo travel trip is sleeping well.