How well to you rest while traveling? Do you find yourself disturbed by the new and strange sounds at night? What about your productivity while traveling for work? Can you concentrate in a new environment, with new distractions?

My husband recently returned from a two-day trip for a conference. The lectures were great, and he enjoyed the networking. However, he found it was difficult to be productive during his down time because of the distracting conversations around him, and that he did not sleep well at night due to the strange sounds of a new city. He would have really appreciated bringing a personal white noise machine.

If you have never tried a sound machine, here are some practical uses that could benefit you:

Work – Did you know that the average person loses up to two hours of productivity because of distractions? This can be true whether you are traveling or sitting in your office. There are constant conversations and interruptive sounds that scream for your attention throughout the day. Portable white noise can cover those distractions and help you focus on your work.

Sleep – Do annoying sounds, such as a barking dogs or loud music, ever keep you from sleeping soundly? White noise (or other relaxing sounds, such as a thunderstorm or babbling brook ) can mask the interruptive sounds, giving you better sleep in spite of extra street noise, or unfamiliar hotel sounds while traveling. The result is a more refreshing sleep at home or on the road.

Relaxation – On a peaceful Sunday morning, while reading the paper and sipping coffee, the last thing you want to hear is annoying car horns on the street or the neighbor’s dog chasing a squirrel. Imagine, instead, how relaxing it would be to drown out that noise with the sounds of waves crashing on the shore or peaceful chimes blowing in a soft wind.

Personal white noise helps eliminate distractions and create a more peaceful environment. This can increase your productivity at work, or provide you with a more restful night’s sleep. Give this amazing technology a trial run to discover if you can appreciate the benefits of improved concentration and better sleep!

London!

A few weeks ago, my family of 4 and my in-laws went to London for a few days.  We got a cheap flight on EasyJet from Aberdeen to Luton and then hopped a Greenline bus to Victoria Station.  From there, we took a short train to Clapham and walked to a family member’s flat.  As usual, it was a lot of prep work, but ended up being a very inexpensive way to stay in London for 4 nights!  It saved us enough money to be able to do some shopping, eat well, and even see Wicked!  I highly recommend the trip, as London is not a city you’ll want to miss!

White Noise

However, you may have noticed I mentioned my family of 4- that includes a 2 and a 4 year old.  This trip was their first time to share a room…um, yea.  I was stressed about it, but there was not a lot we could do- after all, 6 of us were staying in 1 flat!  We were blessed to have the space we did have!  So, even though we only got a small carry-on for the flight, I was sure we packed 2 white noise generators, as we always do, no matter luggage restrictions!  Sleep is priceless to us, so I would rather re-wear the same clothes than go without white noise.

And, as a matter of fact, those bad boys did the trick again!  Even though my son was up crying quite a bit of the first night, my daughter slept right through it!  And, when he had settled, we were able to turn our generator on at a low level, which enabled us to do several things:

  1. hear him if he needed help
  2. keep our windows open for ventilation but not be kept awake by the night life outside

Once again, white noise, I love you!!  Thank you for being effective and portable!

Hotels

When you think of a hotel, what comes to mind?

  • Room service?
  • Vacation?
  • Time off?
  • Relaxation?
  • Business Trip?
  • Time working?
  • Stress?

Tips for a Pleasant Hotel Stay

For me, it doesn’t matter why I go to a hotel.  Whether it’s business or pleasure, it’s all about the sleep.  If the room is quiet and I can sleep, then I am happy to be there.  If not, then I am not.  It’s as simple as that.  I have had loads of good and bad experiences away from home, and the main lesson I’ve learned is to plan ahead.

  • When I make a reservation, I ask for a room at the end of the hall, off the street, and away from the elevator.  That way few guests walk past my room and ambient noise is dispelled.
  • I also pack portable white noise just in case.  It may be the next door guests watching TV (or doing Lord knows what else), or it may be as close to home as a snoring spouse, but with a little white noise, I protect my sleep.

Whether making a sales pitch or vacationing, good sleep is non-negotiable.  By planning ahead, you can ensure you protect your rest.

Last week, I shared our top two must-haves for traveling with friends and/or {extra} kids.  I also teased you with how we used white noise to unload groceries…random, I know, but it’s kind of a funny situation.

8 people, 4 bedrooms; 4 of the “people” are 3 and under.

So, it was the first day of our trip, and we quickly realized that 2 in a room wasn’t ideal, especially for the little boys (ages 2 and 1).  My son (2) loves sleeping in his KidCo PeaPod, which can go anywhere.  So, I decided he could go in the kitchen.  We would just need to make sure we got everything out of the kitchen before he went down.  What we didn’t count on was getting things in the kitchen after he went down.  It was kind of a comedy of errors…

  • Opening the fridge and unloading groceries is a loud (and bright) task!

    My son goes to sleep at 7pm, so we scrambled to get the dishes done and everything out of the kitchen we needed.  We also are in Scotland, where it’s only really dark from 11pm to 3am, so we covered the windows with dark towels and turned on nature sounds from our portable sound machine to ensure a sleep-conducive environment.

  • We also needed to go to the grocery store for essentials, such as milk, yogurt, meat, cheese etc. for the week.
  • We couldn ‘t go right after dinner because my friend has to nurse her son (1) before bed time.  So, we decided we’d go after dinner, but quickly before the grocery store closed at 8.  (not kidding)
  • This all sounded like a great plan until we realized that my son would be asleep in the very room that housed the refrigerator, and everything we were getting needed to be in it!

The plan of attack

Oh my word…so, I took one for the team and decided to be braver than I felt.  Before Luke was down for the night, I figured out when the kitchen door creaked and how to open it soundlessly.  I also checked the fridge to see if we could turn off the interior light.  We couldn’t.  Bummer.  Our last offensive move was to take the groceries out of the {loud} plastic sacks and put them in 1 large reusable, canvas bag.  So, we sneaked in the kitchen, silently opened the fridge door, and started unloading what felt like a million groceries.  All was going well except that the silly bagged lettuce was getting  crinkled every time we reached in to grab something!  We labored on, and I tell you what, I have never been more tankful for white noise!  That sweet boy stayed asleep and was oblivious to the whole thing!

Fort William {the west coast of Scotland}

This weekend we spent a couple nights on the west coast (of Scotland) with our dear friends and their 2 kids.  We had traveled to the West Coast before, but to Plockton and closer to the Isle of Skye.  This time we headed in a slightly different direction and enjoyed Fort William.  It was about a 3 1/2 hour drive from Aberdeen, which is situated on the northeast coast of Scotland.  Our friends rented a beautiful 4-bedroom lodge for a week, and we spent the first 2 nights with them.  It was an affordable, quick get-away for us, and also helped them pay for the trip as a whole since we split the shared nights.

Sleeping arrangements

However, the tricky part was that even though it was a gorgeous 4-bedroom “cottage” that literally overlooked Ben Nevis (the tallest mountain in the UK), we had 8 people to sleep in 4 rooms (we both have 2 kids)!  You might do the math and surmise that 2 per bedroom was the way to go.  Well, if our kids were a little older or more accustomed to sharing a room, the that would have been an excellent plan.  As it was, all 4 kids are 3 1/2 or under, and while they usually sleep through the night, they all go to bed at different times and might have random wake-ups at different times.

Top 2 Must-Haves for Traveling with Friends and Kids

So, looking back over the trip, there 2 things that made traveling with kids more bearable: portable DVD players and white noise machines.  I kid you not, if we could only take a few things with us, those will always my top two choices (plus diapers)- yes, higher than pajamas and tooth brushes.

  • A portable travel sound machine is ideal for trips because it is compact and has a variety of travel features.

    The portable DVD player allows us to take pleasant car trips.  We never use it in town or on a drive less than an hour because we want our kids to entertain themselves and not be too spoiled. However, for longer car (and plane) trips, DVD players are life-savers.  They also keep the child’s eyes on the screen and not out the window, thus avoiding possible car sickness.

  • White noise machines allowed us to maximize the rooms we had.  We were able to put the 2 older girls in bunk beds together, my son in the kitchen in a tent, and the youngest in a small room directly off the living room.  So, even though there were tons of potentially sleep-interrupting sounds (such as adults talking, movies playing, or the older kids not in bed yet), the white noise machines provided a gentle hum in each room so that everyone could sleep well.

So, if you’re traveling with friends and/or {extra} kids, I would highly recommend investing in both!  Plus, check back next week and see how we used white noise to unload groceries!!

Scotland

Isle of Skye, off the west coast of Scotland

We currently live in Scotland (though we’re Texans by birth) and we recently traveled to the Scottish west coast through the Cairngorm Mountains and even across to the Isle of Skye.  First, it was a great trip and the view while driving was breathtaking.  I would highly recommend this trip if it’s feasible for anyone.

That said, we had interesting hotel situations.  It was the 4 of us (my husband, myself, and our 2 small children), as well as my mother.  My mom is a huge believer in white noise, too, in that she and my dad work from home and sometimes keep the grandkids.  They don’t want to hush their clients or not be able to make necessary phone calls juts because the babies are sleeping in the next room.  Therefore, they use white noise to cover such sounds in order to be productive and allow the children to sleep peacefully.  As a result, we packed 3 portable white noise generators, one for each room in the lodge we would be staying at.  Several humorous white noise misunderstandings took place that prompted me to write this post.

The truth about white noise

  1. White noise covers most sounds, but not all.  If you were (hypothetically) coughing like a banshee right outside the door of your grandchild’s room, he or she will probably still hear it and possible start crying.  Hypothetically speaking, of course.
  2. When you turn on a white noise generator in 1 room, it does not magically work for other rooms, too.  White noise treats the area immediately around it.  That’s why we brought 3 generators- 1 for each room.  Therefore, to say something like, “I’m sure they won’t hear me banging around in the kitchen or slamming doors because we have 3 white noise generators running” is ludicrous.

So, bottom line- white noise is awesome.  It covers the usual, run-of-the-mill noises and neutralizes many louder sounds so that they are not as intrusive.  This is particularly helpful when trying to focus at work.  However, when implementing white noise for sleep (and especially for children who are apt to feel like they are missing out on all the fun), it’s wise to pair it with less noise on your part, too.  Your goal is to minimize the racket in every way possible, including your own tinkering around. While you should be able to watch TV, have a conversation in a normal voice, or make a phone call, there’s no reason to cough out your lung or a slam a door when common sense says not to.

Travel

Our family recently traveled to Paris for a few days.  We live in the UK, and since we won’t forever, we figured we should travel now while we can get much cheaper air fare (we did the whole trip for less than we would have spent on one plane ticket from the States), so we are trying to plan one trip a term (I have never quit thinking in school terms because I have never been off a school year calendar.  Even though I graduated form college in 2001, my husband started grad school that year and has now done 2 Master’s degrees and is working on a PhD.  Plus, we have kids, so this 9-month calendar will be perpetuated for another few years, I suppose- what do you do?)

Previous Experience

Nature Sounds and Alarm Clock function- an easy addition to any bag.

Anyway, last year we visited family in Germany.  While the trip was great, the sleeping arrangements were…um, less than desirable.  My husband tends to worry about the flights working out and staying within the budget, whereas I get anxious over sleep.  I do not function without good sleep, and with a 1 year old and a 3 year old, if they’re awake, I’m awake.  So, knowing there was nothing I could do about it, I did not ask about how we would sleep.  Oh my word.  They had a pallet for my daughter and a pack n play for my son…in the same room as each other— and us!!  On one side of the bed we had said 3 year old, on the other the 1 year old.  Not my ideal set-up.  So, we attempted to make it work.  The problem was that all 4 of us make noise as we sleep…each creak on the bed or rustle of sheets made me cringe as I wondered who would hear it and think 2 am was a good time to get up.  Unfortunately, I was right on target.    Both children struggled every night to stay asleep as new noises penetrated their unconscious little minds.

Paris!

Fast forward to this term’ s trip: Paris!  I was determined to make it more pleasant.  As such, I took precautions to reserve a 1-bedroom apartment rather than a hotel room.  Since little ones go down at 7, and adults do not, we thought it would be nice to have a separate area where we could watch TV or read.  We were only allotted carry-on’s under 10 pounds, so we had to  pick and choose what made the cut.  The main items were (in this order): portable white noise generators (yes, plural), KidCo PeaPod for our son, clothes, books.    It was actually an easy fit and an amazingly peaceful trip!  The kids shared a white noise generator and we used one- I was soooo glad to have them because Parisians do not get quiet at 7pm.  There were drunk men right outside our window, having a ball, and the kids slept right through it!    As for us, we kept our generator loud enough to block apartment life noise, but low enough to still hear the kids when they woke up and needed us.

Bottom line- I will never travel without portable white noise again.

p.s.  Here are some Tips for Traveling with Toddlers, as well as some Tips for Taking Toddlers to Paris