It’s no secret that I love to travel. And I love to travel cheap! I wouldn’t dream of seeing all the places I saw if it wasn’t for a bit of creative thinking and a little compromise here and there.
My best travelling companions are my sleeping bag and my inflatable travel cushion. I discovered that sleeping bags are not just for camping.
Here are my top uses for sleeping bag when travelling on a budget:
1. Makeshift bed (duh!)
Not just the camping variety.
Did you know that you can save up to 50% off the cost of the flight if you split your journey into several legs. What does it usually mean? Forking out for hotel or sleeping in the airport while waiting for connection. Airport seats are not designed for restful sleep (found that out the hard way while stranded in Tenerife for 5 hours which happened to be just outside of airline policy for hotel compensations). Sleeping bag can be a real life saver. Find a nice corner, roll out your bag, inflate your cushion, slap a night mask on and zzz
I wouldn’t recommend trying the same approach on a train station for reasons of lack of security and cleanliness. Although I did come across a family sleeping on a spread pashmina on a busy platform completely undisturbed by spilled coffees, spit and cigarette buds. But I am not that brave!
2. It keeps you warm.
And not just while sleeping.
Cold budget hotels, waits in the airport, train or bus stations, sleeping bag is invaluable to keep you warm. Even if you are in the air or on a train, snuggling up under your sleeping bag allows for much more pleasant journey.
3. Protects you from the rain.
Good quality sleeping bag with waterproof coating could act as a raincoat. Obviously, you may not be able to move very much, unless you secure it around the waste with some rope or belt.
4. Provides some privacy.
Ever slept in a bunk bed in a hostel with a bunch of other travellers? When everyone is going in and out at 3am and people are inconsiderate enough to switch the lights on while unpacking?
Tip: always pick the bottom bunk, no matter how many childhood years you spent dying of envy for you older sibling. Unzip your sleeping bag to make a single sheet then stuff the long end under the mattress of the top bunk and hang over the edge. You should end up with a “curtain” that will protect you from beaming lights and curious glances.
5. It may not be clean but it is yours!
I have been lucky in most places I stayed. But on one memorable occasion I was ever so grateful that I had my own sleeping bag.
In hotel in India I asked the receptionist if the sheets were fresh. “Yes, very very fresh” he assured me. Well, I guess if they were, they must’ve been changed by a very hairy person. Anyway for 100 rupees a night I didn’t want to start an argument and just spread my sleeping bag on top of “freshly made” bed. Problem solved!
6. It helps with heating bills too.
When not travelling I like to spend time cuddling up with my cat on a sofa with a good movie and a glass of wine. In winter it presents a problem as no amount of wine can ever compensate for a lack of movement in unheated house. Sleeping bag comes to rescue. You can either use it as a throw or actually pack yourself into it. We have hardly spent anything on heating in the last four years, even when temperature indoors was as low as 10’C.
7. Last but not least, it can be used as a stretcher to quickly come down snowy hill or help transport someone into ambulance.