The following is written by our friend Sarah from the Sleep Advisor. She's also a writer over at Best Self Magazine.
Hey, fellow world wanderers! I hope you’re well! I know we haven’t met, but I’m going to make a sweeping generalization about you and assume you think the idea of carrying a blanket around with you is, well, frankly quite childish.
That’s ok. I too, used to be wrong! There’s no shame in it. To be honest, I wasn’t even aware a travel blanket was a thing until my dear old mum bought me one for Christmas a few years back. Bless her! I think she just saw the word ‘travel’ and snapped it up.
Now, like a slightly taller, more female and less cartoon version of Linus, I’ve become almost inseparable from my beloved blanket. At least when traveling, that is. It has become the first thing I pack. And I travel light.
By this point I’m sure you’re very confused as to why I’m babbling on about a bleedin’ blanket of all things. Well, it’s because no matter how experienced a traveler I was before, one thing always used to spoil the enjoyment of my trips – my inability to sleep. And, as if by magic, traveling with my own blanket has helped me to solve this.
I’m not entirely sure why but I do have some theories. So read on and I’ll explain why a blanket can help us all to sleep on the road...
Gives you temperature control
Let's start with the obvious. Traveling with your own blanket means you get to control how hot and cold you are at night. Which is great because in my experience nothing at all gets in the way of a good night’s rest more than being either too hot or too cold. In fact, science backs me up on this, there is an official best temperature for sleep, around 65 and 72 degrees fahrenheit in fact (that’s 18 - 22°C for you Europeans)
I’ve lost count of the number of places I’ve stayed on my wanders which simply have bedding that is designed for an entirely different continent let alone season. I've stayed in guesthouses in mountaintops villages which provide you with nothing but a top sheet. I’ve also stayed in higher end establishments in warm countries who seem to want to show off their status with blankets so thick and warm you could use them to reanimate Ötzi the Iceman.
With your own blanket you will triumphantly overcome all such weird bedding choices. And the benefits don’t end there, gone too will be those night bus journeys with air conditioning so cold you’d think the driver was attempting to cryogenically preserve all the passengers for posterity.
The best travel blankets are designed not just to keep you warm but also to keep you cool in warm in hot climates, how they do I have no idea. It probably has something to do with sciencey shit but I like to imagine their is an element of magic is involved.
Provides a “creep shield”
Some things are just different when you’re a girl traveling, especially one traveling alone. You get looks, stares even. Now, I know there’s nothing wrong with people looking (by people I obviously mean men) but I’ve found it doesn't necessarily lull me to sleep promptly.
A blanket might just be a piece of fabric. But for me it also has a secret power – to provide a degree of privacy and security. I like to know I’m covered up when I’m sleeping on the floor in an airport waiting for my connection, or on that night train.
It's a small thing and it's sad that this is still a consideration in today's supposedly modern world… but having my own blanket is like my “creep shield” – and that helps me sleep a little more soundly.
Reduces the “ick factor”
We’ve all been there, you arrive in a random town and the accommodation options are scare. For the sake of saving a handful of dollars we choose an establishment with, less just say, lower than average hygiene standards.
While at home you would never dream of sleeping on a sheet with that many mystery stains on it, when on the road every dollar matters and our standards are flexible. In daylight it seems like a fine compromise but come nightfall, when you actually have to crawl into that bed suddenly it suddenly seems like a very poor decision indeed.
The “ick factor” kicks in and suddenly sleep is distant land.
Well, traveling with your own blanket is a great way to get over this feeling. You know exactly where you’re blanket has been. At least you should – it’s been with you! And hopefully you keep things relatively clean. Wrap yourself up in it and catch the express train to snoozeville.
Triggers a conditioned response
Human beings are creatures of habit. We quickly develop routines and our brains love to develop associations which they can use as shortcuts, it saves them a host of work and you precious calories. Certain sounds and smells can trigger emotional responses. The same is true of objects. If you go to bed every night with the same blanket, your brain will associate its feel, smell, warmth with sleep and you will find it easier to fall asleep.
Well, there you have it – four reasons how traveling with a blanket helped me improve my sleep while traveling. Now, I’m not going to guarantee it will work for you but if you do suffer from night time woes on the road why not give it a go? What’s the worst thing that could happen? You lose some sleep!