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From Overnight Buses to Airport Floors: Packing to Sleep Anywhere on the Road

pack items for sleeping anywhere

One of the less glamorous sides of traveling is transit days. You never know what’s going to happen, whether you’ll be sleeping on the floor of the airport or on an overnight bus.

I’ve spent nights on the bus from Agnes Water to Airlie Beach, Australia, on the floor of the Istanbul airport, in a thirty bed dorm in Dublin and dozens of other unreasonable places. In my years of traveling, I’ve found that packing a few items can get you ready to sleep under practically any conditions while traveling.

packing for sleeping on the road, airport floors, buses, and hostels
Pictured products available on Amazon: Yoga mat, Turkish Towel, Travel Pillow, Ear Plugs, Eye Mask, Sleep Balm, TOMS, Leggings, Hoodie, Lock, Pacsafe Slingsafe 300, Money Belt

BYOB: Bring Your Own Bed

While it’s not possible to actually bring your own bed, you can bring the comforts of home with you while traveling.

  • If you’re also going to be camping on your trip, you will be glad to have a camping pad or yoga mat to cushion yourself.
  • A sleeping bag is another helpful item, which you can substitute with a travel blanket, oversized pashmina, Turkish towel, or even a sarong.
  • A travel pillow is also a good addition, particularly one that is inflatable or can fold smaller.

Sleep Aids

Once you have everything you need to be comfortable, it’s the actual falling asleep you have to accomplish, which can be difficult when there are loud noises like flight announcements or car horns… or even your fellow travelers. I typically bring:

Comfy Clothing

I always pack a few outfits that are comfortable enough that I can sleep in them, but I try to avoid wearing actual pajamas while traveling.

  • I usually wear my ideal plane outfit, which typically has some sort of leggings combination, as well as a hoodie.
  • My ExOfficio Chica Cool hoodie is my favorite, as it is thin enough to be comfortable and has a pocket in the front to store my phone.
  • I also bring thick socks and shoes that are easy to slip on and off like Toms.

Securing Your Belongings

The last thing you want is for someone to steal your belongings while you’re trying to get a few hours’ sleep.

  • Use your backpack as a pillow or place it between your legs to ensure that you’ll feel it if someone tries to take it.
  • Also try a bag from PacSafe, which has a locking mechanism that you can attach to a bench or pole for safety.
  • If you don’t want a new bag, you can lock up your bag with a standard lock and place the key somewhere on your person.
  • Wear a money belt and store your credit cards and passport on your person.

And don’t forget about to set an alarm to ensure that you wake up in time for your flight!

What do you use to sleep anywhere on the road?

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packing list for sleeping anywhere
what to pack to sleep anywhere

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Written by Caroline

Caroline Eubanks is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, but has also called Charleston, South Carolina and Sydney, Australia home. After college graduation and a series of useless part-time jobs, she went to Australia for a working holiday. In that time, she worked as a bartender, bungee jumped, scuba dived, pet kangaroos, held koalas and drank hundreds of cups of tea. You can find Caroline at Caroline in the City.

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Gear We Use

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Speakeasy Hidden Pocket Scarves


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Eagle Creek Compression Packing Cubes


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Tom Bihn 3D Organizer Cube


Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Daypack - Fits in the palm of your hand!
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Daypack


Turkish Travel Towels


Travel Resources

HPL Learnables

Handbag Packing Masterclass – Learn to pack your lightest bag ever in this revolutionary packing class run by HPL founder, Brooke.

Creative Ways to Minimize Your Toiletry & Beauty Kit – Practical tips alongside DIY recipes designed to help you pack lighter, smaller & with fewer liquids. (Also included as a bonus to Handbag Packing Masterclass.)

Book Your Trip

Viator – Enhance your trip experience by booking from thousands of tours across the globe. – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Carol says

    Excellent. I’ve slept on airport floors and even in the wire luggage rack of a bus (which was actually a very nice sleep.) I am a side sleeper, so when I can actually lie down somewhere to sleep, I either put my backpack/daypack in front of me and drape a leg over it or actually wear it backwards as I sleep. Always travel with a pashmina or sarong, depending on what kind of travel it is. Here is a secret use for a pashmina: Even when you are business traveling, you can get away with not wearing a bra if you wear a pashmina. It makes sleeping on the plane a lot easier. You can always slip into the ladies’ room when you arrive and put your bra back on. And a double-sized sarong is my hiking “luxury” item. Sooooo many uses, but doesn’t weight a lot or take up much room. I sleep warm, so I use a sarong as a light blanket most of the time. And another alternative to the sleeping pad? If you hike with a hammock, as I do, find two columns and hang! People will think you’re weird, but they’ll secretly be very jealous of your good night’s sleep!

  2. Diana says

    Silk sleeping bag liner – very lightweight but surprisingly cosy. You could probably wear it as a sarong or something too if you’re looking for multipurpose but it’s minimal weight anyhow.

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