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On Travel – The Greatness of the Unintentional Nap

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Naps While Traveling

Naps While Traveling

A few years back, comedian Joe Pera observed, “falling asleep is one of the best feelings there is.”  I agree, and I’ll add a corollary.  An unplanned descent into slumber feels even better.  An article dedicated to naps may seem antithetical to what many consider the purpose of travel – making memories (as the MtM site name encourages), achieving unique experiences, enabling others to do the same, etc.  Travel can end up being just another version of chasing the dragon that is “accomplishment.”  But, in my view, taking naps while traveling can complement and often enhance one’s experience.

Just Recently…

…I felt the greatness of the unintentional nap.  After a few hours’ drive to Charlottesville, lunch, and a stroll around the UVA grounds, I returned to my room at The Forum and wrote a bit.  After reaching a few not-so-ambitious-but-still-satisfying goals that day, I pushed away from the table for a break.  I turned the thermostat way down – I love cold hotel rooms – and flipped on the TV.  Indeed, another favorite ritual I primarily save for hotel rooms is channel surfing.

As often happens, I ended up settling on AMC.  Watching Ghostbusters II with minimal commercials from the hotel bed on a late Tuesday afternoon sounded just right.  I slowly, steadily drifted off.

I awoke later, although how much later I didn’t know.  For a moment, I also had no idea where I was.  It was darker outside, but not quite yet twilight.  I looked out the large window to the small forest beyond, hearing the trees move as much as I saw them.  The combination of all these elements brought on a level of surreality I rarely experience.  And I absolutely loved all of it.

Naps While Traveling

I Needed That

Taking that nap (including what led up to it and after) brought a sense of fulfillment that certain entire vacations haven’t.  Everyone reading this has probably heard the cliche, “I need a vacation from my vacation.”  It’s as true as it is overused.  I remember past vacations where relaxing was fairly difficult – fortunately, I’ve had just a few of those in the last ten years or so.  Regardless, I felt that wave of numbness wash over me in my Charlottesville hotel room, and I couldn’t have been more satisfied.

Allowing Magic To Happen

I’ve built in time for the unknown on the majority of my trips over the past few years.  With the exception of Walt Disney World jaunts, I avoid overplanning on vacations – family or solo versions.  Instead, I alot for one or two (if I’m getting ambitious) distinct experiences daily, and local meals to complement those.

That leaves plenty of time to be surprised.  Maybe that means doing something that wasn’t previously on the agenda.  My Charlottesville nap falls under that very broad definition.  With the busyness of our everyday lives, I try to remember we need an escape from that hectic speed as much as a new location.  Otherwise, I’m at risk of just going through the motions of a vacation rather than experiencing a meaningful one.

Naps While Traveling

Naps While Traveling – Conclusion

Perhaps I shouldn’t idealize naps while traveling.  They can’t all be great – some provide just a momentary respite from an unsavory situation.  Indeed, there’s a reason I see so many people napping, or at least attempting to, at airport gates or inside metail tubes in the sky.  My recent experience has reminded me to make more time for naps while somehow not putting too much expectation behind it.  While taking a nap on a schedule can certainly be good for one’s soul, I enjoy the added mystery from that accidental one.  Who knows when it could arrive?

Here’s to embracing the unknown of travel and everything that comes with it.

Disclosure: Miles to Memories has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Miles to Memories and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

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Benjy Harmon
Benjy Harmon
Benjy focuses on the intersection of points, travel, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently roams throughout the USA close to expense-free. Benjy enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I enjoy naps while on vacation. My kids do too. We make time for them! We like going back to our rooms to nap then continue our day or binge watch tv to fall asleep. We take naps routinely. Go to the pool I’m taking a nap. Get in a plane, I’m read for a while then fall asleep. The flight is 2 hrs long I intentionally shut down my laptop to make sure I catch at least 45 min nap. That’s is what helps me arrive refreshed. The nap is underrated yet essential. Those that don’t take it tend to return home more tired.

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