Socks? Check. Underwear? Check. The perfect blanket? Maybe. You might not automatically think of putting a blanket on your travel packing list, but the right one can help—whether you want to doze off in the passenger seat or ensure restorative sleep once you arrive at your destination.
The right temperature is crucial to falling asleep and staying asleep. It’s natural for your body temperature to fall as you fall asleep, hitting its lowest point in the early morning hours. If the air is too warm or your blankets are too heavy, that can interfere with the natural temperature dip, interrupting your slumber.
An ambient temperature that’s between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit is typically ideal for sleep, but when you’re away from home, the thermostat is not always within your control. That’s where a good blanket can come in handy. Look for one that’s large enough to cover your legs and as much as your body as possible, but that packs up small enough to keep in a bag that you can easily access during your trip. After all, if the air conditioner is blasting on the airplane and you want to take a nap, your blanket won’t be of much help if it’s in your checked baggage.
Choose a fabric that feels cozy to you—but is also washable and breathable. While a cashmere throw might be great for lounging on the couch at home, it may not hold up as well to road wear. Plus, super-warm fabrics like wool or heavy fleece may be too warm for sleep. Instead, consider a light-weight fleece or soft, cotton fabric that’s easy to throw in the wash when needed.
Once you’ve chosen your perfect blanket, take the time to break it in. Just like a security blanket can help a child feel safe, a familiar blanket can help an adult feel at home, too. Plus, if you use the same blanket every night, you’ll begin to create a conditioned response where you associate the blanket with sleep. That might help you fall asleep faster, whether you’re in your own bed or in a hotel room a thousand miles away.