I love to travel, but unlike in my younger days when I could literally sleep on the ground with a boot for a pillow, my sleeping needs have changed. I have a small arsenal of pillows I take with me and some other tools for assuring that I get a good night’s sleep when attending conferences, retreats or inspirational weekend getaways.
First, I always take a CD player with headphones and a CD of soothing music. Because I’m an introvert (drawing my energy from within), I need that kind of thing to re-energize. Whatever CDs work for you is best—I prefer either quiet nature sounds (such as Sounds of Yosemite or peaceful music, such as Yanni’s Love Songs or Enya’s In Memory of Trees). Listening to this as I drift off to sleep really does help me to wind down and silence my mind from the day’s events.
Another thing that I always carry in my suitcase is earplugs. I’m not a fan of wearing earplugs when I sleep, but sometimes I find myself in situations where it’s the lesser of two evils—like the time my room was located near a noisy city street, or the time it drizzled all night and the drainpipe was by my window, or when I took a chance and roomed with a conference roommate whom I’d never met, only to discover that she snored. You get my point.
Lastly, I’ve recently discovered the value of keeping an eye mask in my suitcase. I use the black “40 Blinks” model from TravelSmith. I love these! They have an adjustable strap, are foam-molded and when worn make it pitch black. I bought a pair after attending a retreat at an old California mission. The dorm-style rooms had uncovered louvered windows above the doors, but the problem was that the hall lights stayed on all night, lighting the rooms considerably.
Being from the desert, I’m used to near total darkness at night and only the occasional sound of a coyote, but thanks to these tools, I’m ready for any sleeping arrangements that my travels take me to—so long as I don’t have to use a boot for a pillow!