My best travel tip, and it’s almost free

“My best travel tip, and it’s almost free”, a title straight off the viral clickbait pages, eh? It actually is though and it’s something I’ve been meaning to mention for ages, if only because it’s a damn good tip and I’ve never seen anyone else mention it. Ever. And for that reason it deserves to go viral and bring me lots of respect, more followers and to be honest, recognition for services rendered to travellers everywhere in the form of hard cash.

It’s a scientifically proven fact that most humans have the best chance of a good nights sleep if it’s dark, quiet and below room temperature. I’ve rarely visited a hotel where the AC will actually chill at all, and if it does it’s like sleeping behind a jet engine and hence of no use at all. Some places let you open the window, but then you’re subject to the sounds of a foreign city and your lizard brain will alert you to new potential dangers all night long. Even if it’s only Jules the Joyrider passing, or drunken shouting. Or sounds from the hallway. So, not being able to do much apart from sleep naked with earplugs, this leaves us with the issue of darkness.

You’ll know the problem as soon as I mention it. You arrive in a new hotel room somewhere, anywhere. Hotel rooms are pretty much the same wherever you go. They will typically contain a flat screen tv, air conditioning, a fire alarm, a water boiler and possibly some more electronic stuff. And every single device has a light emitting diode built in. At least one. Probably red and most likely plenty of wattage, so it’s nice and visible. Especially in the dark. In the dark, when your primal response to red lights is to be alert for predators.


And alert is not where you want to be when you’re trying to doze off after a long day. And it’s not only the solid red LED that keeps you alert, it’s that more or less randomly blazing one from the fire alarm that sears down from above like a laser beam out of some knockoff alien attack movie. “Please, abduct me before the predator over on the wall gets to me!”. Sleep has never seemed further off, as you toss and turn in the heat, the noises and that pulsing red light.

Now, I’m a programmer and know the value of a blinking LED to let you know your system is running smoothly. It’s a nice visual feedback for debugging. Blink-blink, it’s working. Only, you don’t need everyone to be aware of this all the time, forever. They truly don’t care. At least not if it’s costing them their only shot at a good nights sleep.

My solution though is nothing if not elegant. And cheap. You can bring it with you in your hand luggage, apply it to the offending points of light and either remove it when you leave or leave it there as a passive aggressive feedback to the hotel. Granted, it’ll only be the underpaid maid who sees it, but it will give you a satisfactory feeling of self-righteousness to keep you going throughout your day.

And here it is:

A roll of cheap, black electrical tape. Just tear off a few inches and stick it over the offending source of light.

It costs almost nothing. It weighs almost nothing. It tears off without needing scissors. And it blocks all known forms of annoying light. And can be removed afterwards. Available from anywhere that sells tools and DIY stuff.

Brilliant. And I wish you a better nights sleep next time.


  • Darryl 21/05/2017 at 15:49

    This is a major bugbear with me. I find all extraneous night time light distictly irritating and will even unplug all the offending appliances (which often then have to be reset!). It seems such an obvious thing that your main reason for staying somewhere is to sleep!

  • Anne 21/07/2017 at 14:06

    I usually use any item of clothing lying around, a book or whatever will stay put depending on shape, as it doesn’t leave mark. By my bedside at home I however use black gaffer tape for any extension lead or objects whose light is irrelevent.
    For hotel or AirBNB rooms I have gotten into the habit of bringing an eyemask as sometimes the room is not in complete darkness early morning.


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