Summer travel – especially with the family and on a budget – can make you feel a little bit like Goldilocks, wandering from bed to bed with no comfort in sight. Travel is great, but when you’re on the road, it’s hard to take control over where you’ll be sleeping. What follows are some of the ups and downs of sleeping outside your own bedroom. Keep these considerations in mind as you decide where to hunker down each night. No matter what assortment you choose, your substitute sleeping surfaces will likely have you wishing for your own bed by the end of the summer.

The futon. Oh, college. Futons might be the worst. There’s nothing like a bar in your back to make you want to sleep on the floor. On the plus side, futons create a free and legitimate sleeping space in a place that wouldn’t have one otherwise. And they’re super easy to put away in the morning.

The sofa bed. Sofa beds vary enormously. If you’re staying someplace free or cheap, you’re more likely to get a bad one than a good one. People keep them too long, hand them down too many times, and sometimes even pick them up off the curb. So sleep on sofa beds only in the homes of people you trust.

The air mattress. Is the futon the worst? It’s a toss-up with the air mattress. Sure, it will make a bed out of thin air. But it will be a bed that offers no support whatsoever and is likely to deflate. On the plus side, they’re cheap, easy to move around, and can even keep you cool on hot summer nights. Air mattresses are a mixed bag, so keep your stay on one as short as possible.

The sleeping pad. Miracle of miracles, the sleeping pad is a thing. If you grew up sleeping with just the ground or a tarp under your tent, the sleeping bag could be your salvation. If your parents had a camper or put an air mattress in your tent, you’re spoiled for life. Sleeping pads make it possible to actually sleep just about anywhere. That doesn’t mean you should buy one instead of replacing your worn-out mattress.

The raft in the backseat. The most novel place to sleep might be on a swimming-pool raft in the back seat of a car. As a travel hack for getting your kids to be quiet, it’s awesome. And it’s an amazing solution if you get too tired to complete a long drive. Aside from those situations, however, it’s best to sleep on things that are made to be slept on.

Perfection. There’s nothing like time away to give you perspective on your own mattress. Your bed should be your sweet spot for sleeping. If you sleep worse upon your return than you did on the dining-room floor at your cousin’s house, it’s time to start thinking about a new bed. You owe it to yourself.

Summer travel and a million other circumstances can force you to improvise a creative sleeping surface. In these cases, function has to come before form. When you’re ready to find exactly the right mattress for your best night’s sleep, come see the sleep experts at A Goodnight Sleepstore.

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