Tips for Traveling With Narcolepsy

Don’t Travel Tired

Do you worry about traveling with narcolepsy? Traveling tired can be dangerous. I feel like I am a smart traveler and pay attention to my surroundings. But once the sleep starts creeping in its easy to start letting my guard down and focus on staying upright. 

My tired taxi experience in Vietnam

Today I had one of those situations.  I have read my share of warnings about taxis in Vietnam and I downloaded the Grab app just to avoid those awkward situations.  All week I have ignored men following me asking, “where are you going? Want a taxi?”

But, I let traveling with narcolepsy get me in a tricky situation.  While I was at lunch, I was already tired.  There was just one more place I wanted to see before nap time and it was right across the street. I should have followed my own advice and come back later.

Instead, I ended up spending about an hour at the Temple of Literature.  I was obsessed with the plants and tiny trees even more than the temple.

Small tree with pink flowers funky small tree



When I finished I was exhausted. The moment I exited, a taxi driver called to me.  I shook my head thinking I would rather walk or use Grab.  I didn’t feel like negotiating a price or being ripped off.

How I was duped

After checking the map, I realized I had to cross the street and pass that taxi driver if I wanted to walk.  Since he had only asked once and not hassled me after, I asked him how much for the ride.  He told me he used a meter and opened the door to his car and got in the driver’s seat. Before I knew it I was comfortable in the back on a nice leather bench seat.1 million Vietnamese dong

The meter read 25,000 VND when we started, which is just about $1.  Five minutes later the meter was still around 60,000 VND. So I wasn’t concerned until it suddenly started moving very quickly.  In the next 2 minutes, I must have zoned out and realized it suddenly went up to 900,000 VND! That is somewhere around $40 so, I asked him to stop.

How I handled it

Of course, he demanded the $40 and I blatantly told him that was ridiculous. I offered him $5, he refused it and demanded $30 USD. I had only been in his taxi about 7 minutes. So I calmly left the $5 on the armrest and got out of the taxi. I knew I had probably still paid him double what he earned. I headed down a pedestrian street and when I looked back he had gone.

Moral of the Story

I should have rested earlier, but I won’t beat myself up over it.  This was just a little reminder for me how helpful it is to stay rested when traveling with narcolepsy.  When it’s too late for that, it’s wonderful to be able to remain calm in stressful situations. I guess I was just spoiled by how kind and honest the taxi drivers seemed to be in Myanmar, and I let my guard down today.

Everyone gets tired when they travel, so people with narcolepsy have to be extra careful to take time to rest and keep ourselves energized so we can enjoy the trip!  Here are some tips that I usually try to keep in mind when traveling with narcolepsy.

Plan for naps!

  • Paying a little extra for a centrally located hotel pays off at nap time!
  • If you are in a big city you can check the price of nap cafes.  If they are not too expensive, you can stay further outside the city to save money and pop into these amazing places designed just for those traveling with narcolepsy (just kidding).
  • Start out in the morning with the places farthest from your accommodation and after a nap, you can hit some of the closer ones and gauge how tired you are.  

Stay ahead of your hunger

  • When you pass places you want to eat but it isn’t mealtime, check the menu and if it is good, snap a picture or even better save the location in your google maps as a favorite or “Want to go”. Later when you are hangry (hungry + angry) you will thank yourself!
  • Take along your favorite snacks like quest bars or some mixed nuts. Weigh the pros and cons before indulging in something you believe will make you feel sleepy.
  • If your travel companions like to go to ice cream shops and bakeries and it’s too much temptation for you, find a quiet bench or seat under a tree and do some meditation or breathing exercises. You may also be able to find a place you can order tea or coffee that fits your dietary needs.
  • Stay hydrated! Especially if you are on the ketogenic diet it is important to drink tons of water and if you are on the beach or in a hot climate, of course, you need more!

Schedule appropriately

  • If you are going to museums or events that require a large amount of time, schedule them for first thing in the morning or after your nap if possible! That way you don’t end up dragging yourself through the museum for hours just because you don’t want to leave without seeing everything. Some places have a full day ticket allowing multiple entries which is awesome if you are traveling with narcolepsy.  So if you do feel a sleep attack coming on you can take a break and come back when you are well rested.beautiful peachy orange orchids I notice all the orchids!


  • Don’t try to keep up with your travel companions if you are too tired. Agree on things they would like to do on their own if they think naps or peaceful moments are a waste of time. Traveling with narcolepsy is an art that lets us slow down and really savor and appreciate things.
  • For international travel, if you are a heavy sleeper it can help to book long flights overnight. I often sleep 5-7 hours on my transatlantic flights that leave after 9PM.  Then it’s easier to get back on schedule without too much jetlag when you arrive.  Traveling with narcolepsy can sometimes be an advantage.
  • Keep an open schedule!  Try not to book more things than you have to ahead of time because you never know when that sleepiness will hit you! Last minute adventures are always tons of fun if you are feeling great!

Check out this post if you want to read more tips on how to treat narcolepsy.

awesome tree looks like stacked discs This tree was just too amazing

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