It’s a SNORE subject (har har har) for all backpackers. Snoring. Some of us snore. Some of us don’t. Personally, I’m a snorer…90% of the time. Now for most people, on a regular night when we’re sleeping alone in our room, the fact that we snore or don’t snore isn’t a problem because we’re ALONE. If you’re in a relationship, ok, one partner will likely wake up every night to alert you of your snoring (which does nothing! It’s not as if snorers can hit the ‘off’ button). And if you’re snoring after a one night stand….it’ll probably end up being just that…. a one night stand….because people HATE SNORERS!!! Now that’s in the regular world of single people and couples. Backpacking is very, very, very different and it would greatly assist the ‘backpacker’ to review some unspoken rules that I’ve put together.
I will preface this by saying that 2 months prior to my latest backpacking journey I researched remedies for snoring and I religiously went to acupuncture to curtail my snoring (which cost me almost $300 and that’s a lot for a traveler to put into snoring prevention). Did the acupuncture work? Yes. I recorded myself during the time periods between visits and I wasn’t snoring. But….it didn’t last into my journey. So, I wouldn’t recommend this treatment for a traveler. I would recommend it though for stationary maintenance . And now we start the list.
#1. Most importantly. Know what you’re getting into. If you’re roughing it…you’re going to be sleeping in a tent with one or several people. If you’re staying in a hostel and trying to save money, you’re going to be sleeping in a room with four, eight or possibly 20 different people. There’s a give and take. You’ll get off paying $10-$30 for a bed and will have to put up with snoring, farting, people who talk in their sleep, people who have night terrors, rude people who talk on their cell phone in the bedroom, smelly people, messy people, drunk people, people trying to bang and people having different sleeping habits than your own. Don’t expect it to be ‘your space’. Sometimes you’ll luck out because most backpackers are respectful and hey….they’re just trying to save money while they travel too.. so they ‘get it’. But….know what you’re getting into. ANYTHING GOES. Just like the guy who was talking non-stop to himself in his sleep saying, ‘Tomorrow I have to brush my teeth’, ‘I should’ve taken a shower tonight’, ‘I really need to buy a new toothbrush’…did I find that annoying? No…I found it hysterical and laughed myself to sleep. It’s all part of the experience.
#2. Invest in some good ear plugs. If you’re a non-snorer or a light sleeper. Get some ear plugs! They’re cheap and there are a lot of good brands out there. Get several different ones. If you want to sleep…you’ll need em. If you’re a snorer…BRING EARPLUGS EVERYWHERE. I brought a stock of about 6 ear plugs with me to each hostel. I would write a note that said, ‘Hey. I snore. I’m sorry. Here are some free ear plugs’…and I’d leave it on the desk, sink or couch in the common area of the room. I was just being courteous because I know how annoying snoring can be. At least if you do that…fellow travelers won’t sneer at you when you pass them going to the bathroom in the morning.
#3. This one is really important. DON’T BLAME THE PERSON WHO SNORES. Seriously dude. They can’t help it. And if they can…there are very few effective remedies for snoring that snorers can employ while traveling (see #4). When backpacking, I feel bad EVERY NIGHT that my snoring keeps people up. Sometimes I even stay up as late as possible, until 3-4am just so most people can have a good nights rest before I start wailing away like a monster. Occasionally, I’ll sleep in the lounge if there is one in the hostel…just in case I snore. Should I (or other snorers for that matter) have to do that? Should we sacrifice sleep and go on 4 hours a night of rest just so the 7 other people in the room can relax? No. Not at all. I mean…we paid for a bed too. But most people give snorers a lot of crap… like this weener. And in reality it’s the non-snorers fault. If you can’t handle snoring…you should do the research & testing and find a pair of good earplugs for yourself. Or book a hotel or B&B where you can have complete silence for your sensitive ear drums. You’re in a hostel. Deal with it. Take some responsibility. Don’t blame anyone but yourself. I love when I walk into a room at 2am and a few people are snoring….it makes me feel like less of an asshole. When in truth the guy who’s tossing and turning underneath me that DIDN’T TAKE THE FREE EARPLUGS I GAVE HIM is the bigger asshole.
#4. This is for snorers. Remedy the problem as best as you can. Are you a fellow snoring backpacker? Don’t have 10 grand for the sinus surgery that probably won’t work? Want to know what works? BREATH RIGHT STRIPS. That’s right. Breath right strips. Invest in them. I brought bag of them with me on the last trip. They don’t eliminate your snoring….but they do cut it down by 20-30% and that’s pretty good. That means your heavy, dying sea animal snore has now turned into a light, waves crashing in the ocean snore, and that’s awesome & acceptable for most people (not that you should care because other people SHOULD HAVE EARPLUGS). What else works? Cut your alcohol consumption. REALLY difficult to do while you’re traveling but…alcohol has an effect on the muscles in your throat and you’re guaranteed to snore (or snore louder) when you’re drinking. So if you’re a drinker, just get DAY DRUNK, it’ll make your trip extra exciting OR just stop drinking 1-2 hours before bed. Lastly, steaming your throat will loosen up your throat muscles and your sinuses. 15 minutes of that before bed and you won’t snore at all. But who has time for that while backpacking? So…a cup of tea or a hot shower will suffice.
If you’re reading this…you’re most likely wide awake at 3am, scanning the internet on your smart phone to find a way to deal with the snorers in your hostel. And that’s just it. DEAL WITH IT. Go get some earplugs that work. They’re cheap. Some hostels even give them out for free. Don’t complain about how hard you’ve got it because you can’t get your precious sleep while you’re backpacking the globe, something a large majority of the worlds population will never get to do. Suck it up. Train your mind. Put aside your petty troubles. Meditate. Do your best to become a heavy sleeper. Be a sleep magician like me. Once I put my head down on the pillow, I’m usually out in 3 seconds. You’re in a hostel. Anything goes. Someone could stumble into the room screaming. Someone could snore. Someone could break a window. Someone could pee on you in a drunken stupor (happened to me). Who knows…..but ya know what I know? I’m getting my sleep…loud room or not. Once again. Acceptance. Earplugs. Courtesy. Respect. Breath Right Strips. Sleep. Repeat as often as necessary.
Thanks for reading this M.A.V.B.L.O.G. I hope it’s helped your current hosteling sleep situation and/or enlightened you to the world of backpacking. As always. Do your best. Do better. Be good to yourself. Be good to others. Even plants, animals and rocks. Follow The Golden Rule. Now get some rest…