Well, some of the time so it seems.
Before this trip we probably didn’t realize how precious a good night’s sleep was. We generally got the 8 hours recommended per night (more or less). Since we started the trip, we’ve often been lucky to get 3-4 hours. Thankfully there’s been times when we’ve not been doing much, so we’ve probably not needed as much as normal (although being awake at 4am in the hostel when nobody else still sucks). But when we’ve really needed sleep and not been able to get it, man has it been a killer. Jeroen can attest to this the most; at it’s worst points going 5-6 days in a row with barely any sleep (probably the first time we’ve understood what it might be like to be new parents – it’s still not for us!)
So, what have been our top sleep-killers? In no particular order:
The crazy night–buses: our bus to Rio was probably the worst example of this, although there are plenty more to chose from. Take one part terrible seats (as there were none of the decent ones to choose from). Add one part winding, mountainous roads. Finish with a sprinkle of macho driver with somewhere to get to and a ‘I can’t sleep so why should you be able to’ attitude. And there you have it; arriving like a zombie at your next destination.
The dorm roommate nightmares: this one’s probably worth splitting out.
- The snorer: we’re not talking gentle humming here. The snorers we’ve encountered have been more like foghorns. To be fair Carl can also snore. The main difference being that in this case Jeroen just pinches his nose or rolls him over. We’re not sure our roommates would be so understanding.
- The rummager: switching on the lights and going through their stuff in the middle of the night (on one occasion a woman in Ushuaia was even putting on her makeup to make sure she looked amazing before she went to bed). Total lack of basic dorm room etiquette.
- The tosser: as in tossing and turning of course. When sleeping in bunk beds, this one speaks for itself.
The party–til–dawners: this might sound rich coming from us. But there’s been nothing worse than wanting to get to sleep and being kept up until the early hours by noisy partygoers in the hostel. Far be it from us to deny people’s right to party (we couldn’t stand much ground on this), but the hostel should be sacred ground past certain hours. Sometimes it’s even been the hostel staff (Mendoza being the worst). Adding insult to injury, it’s not even been decent music; reggaeton for god’s sake!
The three bears’ mattresses: not to be too Goldilocks about it, but finding a mattress that is ‘just right’ has been something of a mission. They’ve either been rock hard or paper thin. At one point Carl even tried to take multiple mattresses from our room to stack up and try and create something bearable; it didn’t work.
The ‘why the hell can’t I sleep?’ nights: when none of the above apply and we’re still not able to sleep. For this we have no explanation. Constantly changing surroundings? The altitude in some places? Thinking too much about trying to get to sleep in the first place? Waiting for one of the other disturbances to wake us up? Either way, these nights are almost more annoying than any of the others.
Albeit part of the course of travelling, nearly four months in we’ve decided action is needed.
Cutting back on night buses (taking them sparingly and only when we can get the decent seats/ beds). No more dorm rooms under any circumstances (screw the budget!) Increasing our review score criteria to 9+ (screw the budget again!) Binning any places with reviews containing the words ‘party’ or ‘uncomfortable’. Stocking up on sleeping pills. And finally, we’re starting to try to coca tea recommended so much by the locals in Northern Argentina and Bolivia (not in conjunction with sleeping pills of course).
Keeping everything crossed that something works. At this point, something has to, else our friends and family will be getting two grouchy, insomnia-ridden boys back at the end of the trip. Good luck with that!
On that note, we hope everyone else sleeps well. Feel free to let us know your worst sleep stories whilst traveling (except Kim, as that could likely include Carl fitting into one or all categories of the ‘dorm roommate nightmares’).
Until next time, a very tired Carl & Jeroen x