Sleepless nights: When finances and timing just aren’t in your favor
Every once and awhile when traveling we are forced to do things that are less than desirable. Especially when backpacking on a budget, you may find yourself in a situation where you have to sleep outside or not even sleep at all. This could arise from poor planning, over booking, or just lack of budget. In my times of traveling, I have spent a few nights walking the streets due to various reasons. I recall passing the night outside on 4-5 major occasions in some huge cities; I guess almost more than I care to admit. Almost every time with me, it was due to poor planning. 1-2 of the times were from early morning departures or connections. Hopefully, those days are behind me, but who really knows what the future holds; traveling is never an exact certainty.
In my experiences of doing this though, I have learned a few things that make for a successful ‘sleep’ outside should you find yourself in that position.
- Store your luggage if you can. This is not just for safety precautions, but also for fatigue. After hours of walking around you are going to get tired of carrying your bag. It is going to weigh you down, but also pose as a safety threat. It identifies you and limits places that you can enter.
- Keep your electronics charged. This is especially helpful before, so that you can use them when you do not have a place to charge them. If you are stuck wandering around with no way to connect, it is not the best of situations.
- Stay out of homeless hangouts. These are places typically frequented by homeless people. Sometimes, homeless people can become territorial and get the wrong impression if you are in their space. It can also lead to security problems for you, especially if you are carrying your backpack or luggage.
- Keep little of value on you. Although I have never had a problem, I recognize that it could arise at any time. There is no reason to keep all of your valuables on you if you do not have to do so. If you have to carry all of your valuables, then separate them. If a situation were to arise, then you can ensure that not everything is in one pile.
- Keep plenty of entertainment with you. This could be anything that will help to pass the time. This could be a book to read, or a notebook for keeping a journal.
- Seek a hangout like a bus station or the like, which will allow you to have access to amenities like a bathroom, lights, warmth, etc.
- Keep your confidence. Street thugs and thieves look for weak people. Hesitation is a key sign of weakness or indecisiveness. You do it and they know. Walk confidently and do not appear to be lost. Even if it is in the middle of the night. Appear as if you belong.
- If at ever you feel uncomfortable, move to populated and well-lit areas. These are going to be the most exposed areas, but also should be the safer areas. Larger diverse crowds are better.
- Stay hydrated. As with anything that you do, it is always important to keep fluids in you. This will keep you energized and healthy. The downside to this is that you will have to find a place to use the bathroom while wandering about.
- Stretch after sitting for long periods. There is no point in messing up your body by becoming tight. After sitting on a bench or in a chair for a long time get up and move around. Get a stretch and keep yourself going.
- Milk your meals for time. If you stop to get something to eat, then there is no point of rushing it. After all, you are not in a hurry and you have plenty of time to kill. Remember you are paying for a service, so enjoy your meal and take your time.
- Have a game plan. It is a good thing to have an idea about what you are going to do and where you are going to allot your time. Have a backup plan in case something does not work out as planned. I remember times where I had to move because the place that I thought I’d be able to hang out in was not available.
Tell me about your experiences
Have you ever had to spend the night walking the streets or in an establishment? What did you do to pass the time and stay sane?
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