The Art of the Travel Nap

“I love a good nap, sometimes it’s the only thing getting me out of bed in the morning”

– George Costanza

Back in September I was strolling down the Philosopher’s Path in Kyoto with a French girl I’d just met. “What do you want to do next?” she asked.

“Oh I dunno. Maybe go back to the hostel and relax, take a nap.”

The horrified look on her face said it all. What kind of lazy traveler WAS I? Here we were in this gorgeous historical wonderland and I wanted to waste time with SLEEP?

Whatever. Judge all you want. I stand by my choice: sometimes on the road a good nap is absolutely essential.

My New Toy is~~~~~~~~
photo credit: Trish Hamme Stevie doing well 🙂

The day to day routine of long-term travel is very different from taking a short vacation. You can’t go go go at the pace you would if you only had a week or two to see as much as possible. Sightseeing all day, every day, is exhausting. If you kept up that kind of pace you would probably die. Part of the reason it IS so worthwhile to go on longer trips is that you can take your time and factor in some precious down time.

Even if you ARE on a shorter vacation, there is still a lot of value in taking a nice, refreshing nap. Travel is hard work sometimes, and a healthy power nap can give you that extra boost to get through the rest of the day… or night.

Finally, naps are just so freaking awesome. They feel really good, especially when you’ve earned them with some hard work sightseeing (or staying up partying all night). They are enjoyable and there’s just no reason to feel guilty for indulging.

Definitely taking a nap:-)
photo credit: mysza831

Stephanie’s tips for the best travel nap:

  • Don’t nap after 5 pm- Unless you’ve got a REALLY long night ahead of you, napping past 5 will probably just interfere with your ability to go to sleep later.
  • Invest in a sleep mask-So useful for blocking out ambient daylight. particularly useful if you are staying in a hostel dorm.
  • Don’t watch TV while you’re trying to nap- This might work for some people, but I usually find I’ve gotten so involved in the program that I’ve whittled my nap time down to nil. So unsatisfying.
  • It’s okay to nap on a bus, plan or train, but don’t expect to feel very rested afterward.
  • Set an Alarm- an hour, hour and a half tops, otherwise you run the risk of sleeping the entire day away.
  • Don’t apologize- Like I said above, there’s no shame in napping. Own your choice!

Am I missing any good tips? I’d love to write more but all this talk of napping is making me quite drowsy…

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23 thoughts on “The Art of the Travel Nap”

  1. It’s incredible what a quick 15 min nap on a bus or train will do for you. You wake up and you’re like “shit yeah, let’s take this town on! I’m gonna go barter up like a mofo and get me some sick deals!”

  2. Was the French girl traveling for just a short time? I’d be horrified to waste time napping during a one-week vacation to a foreign country, but also, I just consider it a part of daily life for long-term travel.

    p.s. Love the kitty photo!

    1. I think she was coming to Kyoto to study abroad, so she actually had a great deal of time to see the city. She was pretty young though, so maybe not so used to it yet.

  3. Bus, plane or train napping is an important part to any travel experience. You have to be there anyways, so you might as well sleep. Be careful you don’t miss your stop, make sure your valuables are close or taken care of, and drift away.

    You’ll wake up feeling slightly refreshed and able to go out that night, when you finally do get to your destination.

  4. It’s all about the hammock nap!
    I used to get yelled at in Lima from other travellers for napping so much. I had worked my ass off for a year to travel for the year and it was my first stop. I drank and napped for a few days before going out and actually doing stuff. I needed some relax time.

  5. If you’re traveling in some hot regions, you will notice that local people take a nap or even sleep a couple of hours everyday after lunch (usually hot meal). Let’s learn the lesson form those who know it well, who lived it all their lives.

    A short nap after the meal is sweet, but you can keep it short by lying on the hard floor and no pillows. It’s worked for me. It only takes 20 minutes.

    Rahman Mehraby
    Destination Iran

    1. Definitely lots of nappers in stores and in tuk tuks around here.

      Not sure I could nap succesfully on the floor though…

  6. Naps are the best. The only thing I would add is to nap in a bed. Get in bed tuck, yourself in, and sleep. The naps on the lunge chair at the beach or couch in the common area just aren’t the same.

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