Around the World: The Most Unique Places I’ve Slept

by Brenna Holeman


In A Monastery, Koyasan, Japan


In a Former Tuberculosis Clinic, Listvyanka, Russia 

(and yes we thought it was haunted)


Hammocks For Backpackers in Tayrona National Park, Colombia


The Thar Desert, India


Sharing a bed with mum, The Sahara, Morocco 


A Snail’s Nightmare, Uyuni Salt Desert, Bolivia


In Our Ger, Terelj National Park, Mongolia


Rats as Roommates, Bornean Jungle, Malaysia


On The Trans-Siberian, Russia


4000 Islands, Laos

I will admit, I’ve slept in some strange places. I’ve slept in cars and on beaches and on buses and floors. I’ve slept in tents and igloos and tipis. I’ve woken up more than once covered in sand, water, and/or insects. I’ve slept in really, really beautiful hotels and in really, really awful hotels. I even once slept on a bed made of lentils beside a shed housing my homestay family’s buffalos in Nepal.

I was inspired to choose this topic for my Around the World series as I have been having a lot of trouble sleeping lately. Everything that I could worry about, I’m worrying about: school, money, health, work, oh-my-God-my-future. I know it’s just a minor blip, and that I’ll feel better soon, but on these freezing cold Canadian nights I lie in bed and think about all of the things we should never be allowed to think about after midnight. I also think about how well I slept in other countries, no matter how strange the sleeping conditions: a hammock on a porch in Laos, a bed made of salt in Bolivia, a mat on a dirty floor in the middle of the Sahara. Unless I was kept awake by noisy travellers (or, in Morocco, a noisy camel), for the most part, I slept peacefully, waking up feeling rested and ready to start the day’s adventures.

And that’s why I’m drawn to life on the road again and again. I’m addicted to the calm it brings me, to the life that allows me to think only about the day ahead. I’m addicted to the action-packed days and the nights that accompany them, the nights when sleep comes easy, the nights when my body and my brain are exhausted in the very best way. Perhaps I’ll never be programmed to welcome repetition and responsibility, I’ll never sleep as well in my own familiar bed as I will in a strange land.

Or maybe I should just really consider hanging a hammock in my living room.

Where is the strangest place you’ve ever slept? Do you sleep well when you travel?

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Kristina February 22, 2013 - 6:28 am

I definitely agree that being on the road is the best! I love being so wrapped up in what I’m doing that I’m not future-tripping! Thanks for sharing!

This Battered Suitcase February 23, 2013 - 1:05 am

Thanks, Kristina!

Angela van Wijngaarden February 22, 2013 - 8:10 am

No really strange places so far, also slept in the trans Mongolian express and in a ger. Maybe the strangest place was a brothel/hotel in Cambodia. Everything was wrapped in plastic and we found condoms behind the bed. We didn’t touch anything and got out the next morning.
As far as sleeping goes, it depends on the room/place I’m at.

This Battered Suitcase February 23, 2013 - 1:07 am

Yikes, that hotel in Cambodia sounds a bit unsettling! I can understand why you left so quickly…

Prasad Joshi February 22, 2013 - 9:20 am

I am from India. . . When I visited Rajgad fort which is located in Maharshtra state, I had spend a night in a wooden cow shade. It was really a horrible experience for me. I have shared this experience on some of the travel social networking sites such as tripadvisor and JoGuru. I think you also have to visit here and share your travelling experience.

tiarenie February 22, 2013 - 12:14 pm

i love the hammocks for backpackers! cant think of anywhere strange that I’ve slept.. How boring of me! Haha

This Battered Suitcase February 23, 2013 - 1:09 am

Yes, the hammocks were surprisingly comfortable! It was a fun experience.

Andi of My Beautiful Adventures February 22, 2013 - 1:59 pm

I am a really crappy sleeper, so that’s why I’ve always stayed in nice hotels. If I ever stayed in a hostel or a budget hotel I probably wouldn’t sleep for a week and then my entire trip would be ruined. It’s great that on the road you can forget about your stress and worries and sleep well. Just remember you are where you need to be right now and that it will all work out in the end, it ALWAYS does!

This Battered Suitcase February 23, 2013 - 1:09 am

Thank you, Andi! I know it will all work out in the end…just having a few sleepless nights in the meantime!

Antastesia. February 22, 2013 - 2:54 pm

“I’m addicted to the calm it brings me, to the life that allows me to think only about the day ahead. I’m addicted to the action-packed days and the nights that accompany them, the nights when sleep comes easy, the nights when my body and my brain are exhausted in the very best way. Perhaps I’ll never be programmed to welcome repetition and responsibility”
when I read that, I thought oh that’s it! I never really put words on it, but that’s so true. Travel brings so much calm and peace to me too.
I hope you can sleep well tonight though! 🙂
Try hot milk with a spoon of honey and some breathing exercises, maybe that would help:)
As for weird places I’ve never really slept in any. I’ve slept outside in Paris on the sidewalk, but it’s much more dirty and unpleasant than strange!


This Battered Suitcase February 23, 2013 - 1:11 am

Isn’t it amazing, what travelling can do for us? I only had four hours sleep last night but that was my fault; I had a long Skype conversation with a friend in Australia and then had to get up early for work! I’m pretty tired tonight but hopefully a few glasses of wine and that hot milk with honey will do the trick.

And Paris on the sidewalk?! That sounds like a story!!

Colleen Brynn February 23, 2013 - 7:18 pm

Classic scumbag brain.
Hang in there Bren!

This Battered Suitcase February 23, 2013 - 10:47 pm


Aryn Hill February 24, 2013 - 8:03 pm

The weirdest place I’ve ever slept was a hard floor of an airport in Sweden in the middle of winter. It was the worst night of sleep ever.

This Battered Suitcase February 24, 2013 - 10:28 pm

Sleeping in airports is the worst! I feel like I’ve slept in the Bangkok airport more than one human ever should. Always terrible sleeps.

danielle February 25, 2013 - 2:48 am

Hey Brenna! I’m a recent lurker in your blog. Your around the world posts are anything but amazing and inspiring. 🙂 And this post is definitely one of my favorites.

I just have to share though, whenever I travel, I don’t have a hard time sleeping but I always, always wake up so early even if I sleep late! In hostels, when couch surfing, etc. I guess the unfamiliar location makes me a bit more.. conscious? Or maybe I just want to be the first one who’ll use the bathroom lol. Do you ever experience this? :p

This Battered Suitcase February 25, 2013 - 5:45 am

Hi Danielle! Thank you for reading my blog, I’m glad you’re enjoying it.

It depends on where I am and what I’ve been doing – most places I tend to wake up fairly early but I’ve also been known to sleep in a bit while travelling. While partying a lot in Argentina, for example, I usually woke up at 10 or 11, which is pretty late for me! I just always try and wake up before the free hostel breakfast ends.

Spencer February 25, 2013 - 6:19 am

Its funny that you wrote this. I have not written in any great detail about the places I have slept, but I have had a “Sleeping around the world” album where random friends have taken photos of me falling asleep in random places all over!

In Bogota, Colombia; at a hillside restaurant on the outskirts of town!

In Fleurbaix, France; in a cabinet workshop after a proper French wedding!

And in Seoul, South Korea; on the subway into town from the airport!

I am not 100% sure the links work, but if not I will post them on my site and link you to that sometime soon! Good post! :]

This Battered Suitcase February 25, 2013 - 6:40 pm

Yes, the links work! That’s so funny! You should definitely do a post with these photos. I love themed photos like this from around the world…obviously.

Agness Walewinder February 25, 2013 - 10:09 am

The Monastery in Koyasan looks adorable like in Japanese movies. I’m definitely going to stay there for at least one night in two months when my Japan journey begins 🙂

This Battered Suitcase February 25, 2013 - 6:42 pm

It’s such an amazing experience! You stay in a monastery and the monks prepare all of the vegetarian food for you (dinner and breakfast). You wake up at 5am for the morning prayers, and can spend the rest of the day exploring the absolutely incredible Koyasan cemetery. You will love it!

Georgie October 23, 2013 - 1:30 am

You have slept in some amazing places! My strangest places were both in East Timor, an orphanage where I was so sick the children were looking after me. The other was active nunnery where I was awoken to the sound of the nuns praying.

Brenna Holeman October 24, 2013 - 10:19 am

Wow – I want to hear more about both of those stories!

Charles McCool January 28, 2014 - 11:13 pm

Wonderful. I especially like the Ger.

Brenna Holeman January 28, 2014 - 11:28 pm

Thanks – it was really fun to stay there!

Rashaad October 10, 2014 - 9:35 am

The most unique place I’ve slept in was an empty, stationary train in a railway station in Paris. I had missed the last train to Rouen one Sunday night but fortunately for me, two other people were in the same predicament. Fortunately, a station employee allowed us to sleep in a train.

Brenna Holeman October 12, 2014 - 7:09 pm

Ahhh that’s too bad… but at least there was a nice station employee!

Kirsty November 8, 2016 - 12:38 am

I slept outside at an restaurant seating area in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia waiting for a bus to take me to Singapore. It didn’t make sense to get a hotel when the wait was only four hours, and the pickup point was just around the corner!


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