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A young lady with insomnia.
Healthy Travel

7 Tips to Avoid Insomnia When Traveling

Don’t let poor sleep ruin your trip. Here are 7 tips to avoid insomnia when traveling along with the causes and negative side effects.

Let’s face it, we all love the comfort of our own bed! Unfortunately, you can’t take our bed with you everywhere you go.

Insomnia is a common challenge for many travelers and it can really put a damper on your vacation. Sleep is important and it gives us the energy we need to get through the day. This is especially true when it comes to travel, whether you travel for work or leisure.

Insomnia affects everyone differently and there are various causes for it. If you consistently have trouble sleeping, on vacation, and at home, it is best to seek medical attention from a healthcare professional.

In this post, we will dive into some common causes and the negative impacts they can have before jumping into the top 7 tips for dealing with insomnia when traveling.

What causes insomnia when traveling

Insomnia can be caused by several things but when it comes to travel there are a few more factors tossed into the mix.

Jet lag

Jet lag occurs anytime you cross 2 or more time zones when you travel. It takes time for your body to adjust your sleep schedule to a new time zone. It usually takes only a few days before you adjust and are back to normal!

A new environment

Being in a new place can cause some stress and anxiety. When we feel this way it could activate some stress reactions in our body such as adrenaline. This would certainly keep you up past your bedtime.


It’s easy to lose track of how much water you’re drinking when you travel. Many common symptoms of dehydration are associated with loss of sleep. Learn more from the sleep foundation.

History of sleep issues

If you sleep poorly when you are at home then it’s likely those issues will travel with you. Sleep issues occur for many reasons both emotional and physical. It’s best to speak to a medical professional if this is true for you!

A young lady meditating

Screen time before bed

Spending time on your laptop or smartphone before bed is known to cause sleep issues for many of us. Devices can stimulate our brains, making us feel more awake and making sleep harder. Check out our article on The Digital Detox Challenge to learn more.

What negative effects are associated with insomnia when traveling

Unfortunately, there are some negative effects of insomnia when traveling. It is important to be aware of these so you can be prepared to overcome them!

Tiredness, irritability

When you travel you want to get the most out of every waking hour. If you are experiencing insomnia during a trip you will feel tired and possibly irritable during the day after a bad sleep.

Poor focus, concentration

If you start to experience insomnia you will see your focus and concentration decrease. This has a negative impact on your work or may make it harder to follow along when a tour guide is explaining the historical significance of a historical monument.

Anxiety, stress 

Being in a new environment can cause us to feel anxious or stressed. Our bodies react in a way that could lead to insomnia. Vacations are meant to be an escape from the stress of life. Try and find something that reminds you of home and helps you calm down.

Immune system

A good night’s sleep helps our immune system so our bodies can fight infections. Insomnia can impact our immune system making us susceptible to infections. This could keep us in bed with an illness for a few days. Best to load up on water, nutrients, and vitamins to keep your system strong.

A young lady on her bed.

Mental health

Insomnia can have a negative effect on one’s mental health. Insomnia is recurring and if you consistently experience poor sleep eventually that will wear you down. This could lead to anxiety or feelings of depression. If you suspect this be sure to visit a mental health professional to see if there is a solution to help your poor sleep.

7 tips to avoid insomnia when traveling

Tip # 1 – Exercise

Try and sweat it out. Whether you’re jet-lagged or feeling anxious, exercise is a great way to combat insomnia when traveling. Try some at-home workouts or go for a run along the waterfront (if available). Exercise is known to help battle the impact of jet lag and is probably the best way to fight insomnia when you’re on vacation.

Tip # 2 – Sleep on the plane

This might not be easy for all of us but if you are able to get some sleep on the plane it can go a long way toward helping you find a normal sleeping pattern when traveling. This is especially true if crossing many time zones or taking an overnight flight. If you feel reset when you arrive at your destination you won’t immediately crash and then throw off your sleep routine. Don’t forget a sleep mask.

A young lady sleeping during a plan ride.

Tip # 3 – Plan ahead

If you have a history of sleep issues or have experienced insomnia during previous trips, then plan for your next trip to ensure you have the best shot at sleeping through the night.

One way to help you sleep would be to make your settings as familiar as possible. Perhaps bring a familiar scented candle or use your favorite white noise app to help you sleep.

Tip # 4 – Sleep aids

Sleep aids can go a long way when it comes to fighting insomnia during your travels. Sleep aids can include over-the-counter drugs or doctor-prescribed medication.

Also, try and keep some earplugs handy, a face mask if there is too much light or try downloading a white noise app on your phone to drown out unfamiliar sounds. There are supplements that can help you sleep better.

Tip # 5 – Avoid screens before bedtime

Many of us like to wind down before bed with our favorite TV show or a scroll through social media. Screen time before bed is known to have an adverse effect on sleep. 

If you are experiencing insomnia when traveling, try reading a book before bed to see if there is any change in your sleeping patterns.

A young lady on her bed.

Tip # 6 – Eat a healthy diet

A healthy diet goes a long way when it comes to fighting insomnia on a trip. When we travel we tend to lose track of our familiar diet from home and this can have a negative effect on our days and our sleep. 

Try to eat as healthy as possible so your body’s rhythm is not disturbed too much.

Tip # 7 – Drink a ton of water (start on the plane)

Traveling on long flights can lead to dehydration. Especially if we are drinking a lot more coffee or alcohol than we normally would. Dehydration can have an impact on your sleep. 

Try to drink as much water as possible and start on the plane. Even if that means you have to get up and go to the bathroom a couple of times. It will be worth it.

A young man drinking water.

Final Thoughts

Sleep is an important part of our day. Now that we better understand what causes insomnia when traveling and what the negative consequences are we can better plan to avoid it altogether. Remember to always seek professional medical attention if your insomnia is long-term and recurring.