Can Travel Stories Put You To Sleep?

If you are a light sleeper like me, changing hotels across time zones probably disrupts your sleep patterns more than anything else. I always carry my own TempurPedic pillow with me when I am traveling (even though it takes up 1/4 of my suitcase). But now, there’s another sleep-aid I am packing with me, and it takes up no space at all!

Did you know? 1 in 4 Americans suffer from insomnia according to Calm’s extensive research on sleep.

I downloaded the Calm App based on friends’ recommendations and discovered a spectrum of stories, music and guided meditations to help fall asleep.

One of the writers/ narrators is Phoebe Smith, a British adventurer who writes about travel and extreme sleep expeditions. Think dangling from a cliff, on a glacier or in a tree trunk! She was named the world’s first Sleep Storyteller in Residence for Calm.

Image source PhoebeSmith.com

Smith describes the places she travels to in a slow pace, guiding listeners through the sounds and sights, transporting you to the busy medinas of Morocco, cedar forests of North Africa, and the lavender fields in southern France.

Soothing voices of Matthew McConaughey and Stephen Fry narrate some of these sleep stories for grown-ups.

When I first listened to Smith’s story on the Calm App, I didn’t fall asleep right away. In fact, I enjoyed the art of simply laying there in bed and listening in the dark. We are often trying to multi-task during the day – watching tv while eating dinner, driving and listening to music, writing emails while conversing with family. I consciously set aside some time to listen, image and fall asleep using the App as an aid.

Image source Calm.com

I wasn’t successful the first time as my mind wandered through the markets in Marrakech long after Smith’s story had ended. But after listening to a few sleep stories, I am beginning to fall in and out a deep sense of relaxation.

Did you know that Washington, DC is US Insomnia Capital, and that New York is now the city that sleeps like a log?

Most people today try to fall asleep by watching TV or browsing on social media on their smart phones, but the Calm App provides a great alternate to using technology to help slow down.

The Calm app provides scientific based innovative audio content and techniques that is evolving to tackle some of the biggest mental health challenges of today: stress, anxiety, insomnia and depression.

Here are Phoebe’s Sleep Stories featured on Calm. A new story is added each month.

• Blue Gold – narrated by Stephen Fry – A calming journey through the lavender fields and sleepy villages of Provence.

• Elephants of Nepal – narrated by Joanna Lumley – Relax and unwind on a scenic safari in Chitwan National Park, guided by an elephant.

• Morocco’s Hidden Forest – the first of Phoebe Smith’s stories to be narrated by her – Phoebe Smith describes her own experience of sleeping wild in the hidden cedar forests of Morocco.

• The Trans-Siberian Railroad – narrated by Erik Braa – Traveling to the farthest reaches of Northern Russia, to take a trip on the longest train ride in the world.

• Once Upon a Time in Bavaria – narrated by Anna Acton – An enchanting meander through a Bavarian forest to find the most famous fairy-tale castle in the world.

• The River Wild – narrated by Erik Braa – Traveling the famous Mississippi River from sea to source.

• The Orient Express – narrated by Erik Braa – A journey through Europe’s majestic mountains and rolling countryside aboard the historic Orient Express.

• Wild Sweden – narrated by Alan Sklar – Immersing travel into the wilderness of Sweden’s tranquil forests and fascinating wildlife.

• The Wild Ponies of Chincoteague – narrated by Alan Sklar – Travel to the tranquil eastern shores of Virginia and explore the legend behind the famed four-legged residents.

• The Jungles of Madagascar – narrated by Larry Davis – Joining a friendly pack of lemurs to explore the sleepy jungles and wildlife wonders from the African island.

• A Calm Christmas – narrated by Stephen Lyons – A heart felt magical journey of a young Christmas tree called Douglas who helps a family rediscover their holiday spirit.

• A Love Letter to Africa – narrated by Danai Gurira – Celebrating Calm’s partnership with the RED charity with a journey through Africa to experience the beautiful landscape and dream inducing sunsets.

• An Australian Adventure – narrated by Bindi Irwin – An enchanting adventure from rainforest to reef, exploring tropical Queensland.

• Reunion Island – narrated by Aurora De Blas – Exploring the volcanic island known as Reunion, Europe’s most easterly and far-flung outpost, and the island paradise you’ve never heard of…

• Scotland’s Hidden Hideaways – narrated by May Charters – A wander through Scotland’s craggy mountains and tranquil lakes, to discover the magic of the bothies.

• Crossing Australia By Train – narrated by Steen Bojsen-Møller -Cosy up aboard The Ghan, one of Australia’s most historic railways, as you take in the breath-taking scenery of the land down under.

• Stargazing on Stewart Island, New Zealand – narrated by Alan Sklar- Embark on a magical trip Down-Under to explore the colorful cosmos from breathtaking Stewart Island.

Image source News On Screen

Calm.com is the #1 app for meditation and sleep, with over 37 million downloads to date. Perhaps it will help you fall asleep as well on this World Sleep Day. The annual event is organized by the World Sleep Day Committee of World Sleep Society (founded by WASM and WSF) and aims to lessen the burden of sleep problems on society through better prevention and management of sleep disorders. World Sleep Day is held the Friday before Spring Vernal Equinox of each year. 

Share a comment below: What is the most unique place you have slept in? For me, it was the ice hotel in Quebec!

Grab and Go at the Airport

Grab is a new travel app that allows travelers to pre-order food, drinks and other purchases directly from their smartphones before they get to a location. Sounds great but does it really work? I decided to give it a try at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta airport.

It took less than a minute to download the free application and create an account. A credit card is required to be saved to the profile before you can place any orders.

Before I got to the airport, I searched for restaurants near my gate. The map was easy to navigate and I could take a look at all the eateries, terminal by terminal. However, in Atlanta, only 2 of the 5 terminals had Grab partnered locations listed. There were handful of options on Grab that were on Terminal T, though there were many other restaurants that were not part of the Grab family. For example, I would much prefer to eat at Corner Bakery (located across from my gate), but this was not listed as an option under Grab. Starbucks Coffee, which always has a long line, does not offer a Grab option either.

Starbucks location ATL airport

I decided to order from Argo Tea, which showed as a 5-10 minutes walk from where I was (It was not that far). The app gave guided directions to my destination. I have never dined at this place before, so was not familiar with their menu. The selections were briefly described, though not all ingredients were listed. It would have been nice to see a picture of the food, as I do tend to make a lot of my choices based on how fresh it looks. I ordered a kale salad, mushroom empanada, ruggelah and a medium latte. Once I made each selection, I could modify my order, for example make my latter with skim milk, and also comment any specifications. I asked for salad dressing on the side.

I entered a coupon code for payment and confirmed my order. Ordering was quite simple. Now I started walking towards Argo Tea.

grab menu

It was nice to see there was a separate line for Grab customers. I went to this line and the cashier asked me, “What would you like to order?” I said I had already placed an order on Grab, and she exclaimed, “Oh that was you!” It was only after I arrived that she started making my latte and packing my food. At this point she informed me that they don’t have empanada or kale salad. In fact, they don’t have empanadas on their menu at all. I told her that it was showing on their menu in the app, and she said it might be the menu of their Chicago location.

grab atlanta

The cashier allowed me to trade the 2 items with something else, though she didn’t know how to enter it in the cash register. I grabbed a spinach quiche and edamame salad instead, to try and stay in the same price range. The entire transaction took 5 or more minutes.

I never received a notification or receipt by email or text at any point. You can login to the app and then manually email receipt to yourself or your expense department. If you are a frequent user, it is convenient to see all your airport purchases in one place, though I doubt you will be having all your meals through Grab.

My review of Grab travel app:

Pros: 

  • Easy to use app
  • Great search feature
  • Convenient online payment

Cons: 

  • Limited selections
  • May not necessarily save time

Grab sounds like a great travel app that makes eating on the go convenient. I like the search feature and may just use that to look for places I want to eat at. I would probably try the Grab app again a couple of times to see if other businesses actually have the food ready to be “grabbed” and can provide a speedier check. Otherwise, if there aren’t any long lines, I would prefer to see, order and pick up food myself.

Grab is currently available in Atlanta and Austin, but launching in other cities very soon. To learn more or download the free mobile app for Apple and Android devices, click here.