The Surprising Carry-On That Helped Me Feel so Much More Relaxed on Vacation

published Jul 19, 2021
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Credit: Daniel Kim/Stocksy

Let’s face it: Traveling is stressful. Between the lurking suspicion that something you meant to pack got left behind and the need to be hyper-aware of flight changes/traffic, it takes a little while to finally settle into the joy of being on vacation.

For me, I can’t fully relax until I’m no longer in control of what happens next. Did I forget to water the plants? It doesn’t matter. Once we’re on the road, it’s out of my hands. Only then am I able to get some much-needed R&R after the never-ending rush of travel prep, which usually means I’ll inevitably fall asleep for at least half of the journey. Because of that, I often dress extra comfortably for the hours of travel ahead or, at the very least, bring along a light blanket — and Bearaby dared me to change how I look at travel blankets with the introduction of their Travel Napper. I got to test the compact, travel-friendly version of their signature weighted blanket that’s not only equipped to go on the road as soon as it’s out of the box, but also has calming qualities woven right into it.

The Travel Napper’s design is a trendy 40″ x 64″ chunky knit made of organic cotton that feels like a cozy, worn-in T-shirt. The blanket arrives in a beautiful Bearaby-branded canvas duffel bag, and is neatly rolled and secured with ties that match the color of the Napper. I chose the Midnight Blue shade, which is the darkest color available for the throw. (It also comes in Asteroid Grey, Moonstone Grey, Cloud White, and Evening Rose.) At 10 pounds, the Travel Napper’s weight is obvious upon picking it up, but not overwhelmingly so. Like other Bearaby blankets, its weight uses the power of Deep Touch Pressure to stimulate serotonin, reduce cortisol, and increase melatonin. The results? You can expect quality rest that doesn’t leave you feeling groggy.

I received the blanket mid-vacation, so a couple of weeks would go by before I found out how well it traveled, but it was a hit around the house too. The Napper hardly left the couch, and when it was there, it was almost always in use for anyone lounging. Before bedtime, my dad layered it on top of his bedding and couldn’t stop raving about it the next day. He said the added weight made him feel as if he was being hugged by the bedsheets and that it helped improve the quality of his sleep. After that, he used the Travel Napper every night of the trip, only graciously bringing it downstairs during the day for everyone else to share.

I can say without a doubt that the Travel Napper is the epitome of relaxation. To second my dad’s opinion, it really does feel like a warm hug when you’re wrapped in it. I often had it pulled up to my neck when I’d lounge around the house, because my family keeps the AC on high. One afternoon, I went for peak coziness by bundling up with the Travel Napper as I sank into a plushy Lovesac BigOne. I only planned to relax for maybe an hour as I pulled up a show on Netflix, but three hours went by before I even attempted to move. The blanket is just that soothing!

Credit: Bearaby

When the time came to reluctantly head home after some lovely time away, I worried about how difficult it would be to repack the Napper. Many of us are familiar with the challenge of receiving a product we love, only to never be able to pack it up as well as when it arrived. That’s not the case with the Bearaby Travel Napper. I folded it in half lengthwise and rolled it as tightly as I could, and it fit back into the duffel with no issue. In fact, I rolled it tighter than how it came and ended up having extra space in the bag to fit additional items that I didn’t have room for in my suitcase or carry-on backpack. The only drawback about the duffel bag was that it didn’t come with a longer strap for me to sling over my shoulder. I had to either grip it in my hand or place it in the crook of my elbow. With my two suitcases and backpack, it was a little inconvenient to carry through multiple airports, and I often found myself having to readjust when either arm would get tired. 

There are two things I can almost always guarantee when traveling by air: I get cold quickly and I often fall asleep, so a blanket is a must. If you’re the same, here’s a tip for the taking: If you’re planning to use the Travel Napper on a flight, it’s best to already have it unpacked. In today’s climate with heightened safety measures and full flights, it’s not the easiest move to retrieve the blanket mid-journey (unless you’re in for a really long day in the skies). Travel Napper in hand, I personally found it easiest to fold the blanket in half and drape it over my lap rather than spreading it out immediately in the tight confines of the airplane cabin. That way, I still got the full effects of the blanket on my lower half, and when my arms eventually got cold, all I had to do was pull up the top half and cover my shoulders to distribute the weight evenly. I was out in no time!

I still have to test this theory, but I think I’ll really enjoy the Travel Napper on road trips too. Since there’s more leg room to stretch out in a car, I think it’ll make the blanket that much more comfortable. Now that I’m home, I have all the room I want and the Napper is back out of its bag, sitting pretty on my couch for lazy days around the house — at least until our next adventure together.