Postcards & Passports

Ten Reasons Why You Should Wake Up Early (on vacation)!

This post was most recently updated on March 16th, 2020

Ten reasons why you should wake up early?  Are you kidding me?!  Who wouldn’t rather sleep in? I’m not going to argue with you, because I enjoy my sleep.  But when is it totally worth it to lose a few zzz’s? While you are on vacation!  Not every day.  But definitely for the following reasons:

1.  To catch a beautiful sunrise

If you get up 15-20 minutes before the sun rises, you can enjoy a free treat from Mother Nature. Lots of places claim they have the best sunrises, but you’ll never know unless you wake up early to check them out! (Interested in reading about our Grand Canyon sunrise adventure?)

2.  To enjoy the best breakfast buffet

Many hotels and inns provide breakfast buffets that are better than the standard fare of do-it-yourself waffles and cold cereal.  When we stayed in Germany during Easter season, the breakfasts were amazing!  Pastries, sweet breads, tarts, whole-grain breads, egg dishes, meats and cheeses, fruit and yogurt, juices–need I go on?  However, the longer you sleep in, the less there is to choose from.  Wake up early and enjoy the best of the breakfast extravaganza!

3.  To snag a cheaper flight

I’ve told you before that I’ve become the “family travel agent”.  My family members often ask me to help them find the best fares for the trips they are planning.  One thing I’ve consistently noticed is that most of the cheapest flights leave early in the morning.  With a 6:30 am departure, you need to be willing to get up early enough to be at the airport at least an hour (2 hours for international flights) before the flight departs.  A LOT of people are not willing to get up that early. Which means…if YOU are willing to wake up early, you’ll get the cheapest fares!  My retired mother isn’t really into early departures, so her domestic flights regularly cost at least $20 more each way.  For her, that’s money well-spent.  But for me, I’d rather get up before the sun, save the money on airfare, and spend it on something else.

Southwest flights--see how the 6:30 am flight is the cheapest of the day?

Southwest flights–see how the 6:30 am flight is the cheapest of the day?

 4.  To get some great photos

If you’re a photographer, you already know the best light for photos is early morning and just before sunset.  There’s another reason you’ll get better photos if you’re willing to get up early: there will be less people to obstruct your picture-perfect views!  So get up and take those first pictures of the day–you won’t regret it!  Sometimes, early morning pictures have unique weather conditions, like frost, fog, or mist, that add an extra element to the picture.  My favorite example of this was a picture I took of the Joseph Smith farm in Palmyra, NY.  It looked so peaceful with the blanket of mist that settled upon the ground around the farmhouse.

5.  To avoid crowds

Luckily, our family just happened upon this gem.  We were staying in a hotel near Waikiki beach and planning to go to Hanauma Bay the next morning for snorkeling.  Because we were having trouble adjusting from San Diego time, we all woke up quite early by Hawaii standards.  So we jumped in the car and drove to Hanauma Bay early (before 7 am).  When we arrived, the beach was empty, there was no one to collect money for parking, and we completely bypassed the orientation video because the visitor center wasn’t open yet.  Basically we had Hanauma Bay all to ourselves for the first hour we were there.  We saved lots of time and parking fees, too!


6.  Staying ahead of the traffic

If you’re taking a road trip, there’s nothing like smooth sailing at freeway speeds for the entire trip. The worst thing is running into rush-hour traffic and sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic.  We’ve found that when we leave San Diego to take I-15 north, it’s best if we leave between 5:30 and 6:00 am–that way we miss the morning rush hour of cities further north.  If we’re leaving Utah or Las Vegas after a holiday weekend, the absolute worst traffic settles in and around Las Vegas on a Sunday afternoon or the last day of the holiday break.  It can literally take three hours or more to go 60 miles!  So again, if we leave by 6:00 am, we can stay ahead of it.  That’s another good reason why you should wake up early!

Las Vegas traffic courtesy of

Las Vegas traffic, photo courtesy of

7.  To get the most out of your vacation

I can sleep in when I’m at home.  When I’m on vacation, I don’t want to miss a thing.  I know I might not be here again, and I want to “see it all”!  And sometimes that means every minute counts.  I’ll wake up early to catch the first bus into town…or to get out the guidebooks and plan the day.  I’m willing to give up some sleep to write a few notes in my travel journal or send a postcard to a friend or family member.  I also avoid time-consuming hair styles and fussy clothing (no way I’m ironing on vacation!). My motto is “Let’s get this show on the road!”

Get up early to catch up writing notes in a travel journal

Get up early to catch up writing notes in a travel journal

8. Wake up early to get a good workout

I generally do a lot of walking when traveling, so I don’t worry about fitting in a workout. But sometimes, I like to use the hotel’s fitness center or go for a brisk walk outdoors.  I wake up early so as not to take a bite out of my sightseeing time.  When we were in Italy, my husband got up one morning in Porto Sant’Elpidio and went for a run on the promenade along the beach. There were several locals jogging or walking their dogs, and he enjoyed being with them. If you’re interested in good cross-training shoes, check out‘s collection.

When my daughters and I went to Zion National Park, we got a late start hiking Angels’ Landing.  If you’ve ever been there in August, you know the weather’s quite warm.  By the time we’d finished that hike, we wished we gotten an earlier start.  We also wished we’d brought more water with us. Don’t make the same mistake we made–start the hike before 9 am if you can!

9.  Wake up early to get a hot shower

When we stayed in Madrid for a week, we rented an apartment for our family of six.  It had comfortable beds for all of us, and a well-equipped kitchen for cooking our own meals.  What it did not have was a large hot water tank! We had to spread out our showers–some at night and some in the mornings.  The early bird got the warmest shower!  It can be even trickier to get a hot shower when staying in a hotel where several rooms may be sharing the same hot water tank!

photo courtesy of Getty Images

photo courtesy of Huffington Post

10. To have a spiritual experience

There’s just something about taking a few minutes to set the mood for a wonderful day–before the craziness of the day takes over. Wake up early to enjoy the peace and quiet. Whether it’s time to meditate, do some yoga, read scriptures, pray, visit a temple, or enjoy a beautiful view, it’s important to do first things first. Make the time to do whatever clears your brain fog and helps you see the bigger picture. Your travels will be much more meaningful if you do. Guaranteed. (You might be interested in my blog post ‘How Do Mormons Travel?’)


 wake up early

I hope I’ve convinced you that a vacation offers many times when it will be to your advantage to wake up early. I’d love to hear your stories, too, of when you got up with the sun to experience something special while traveling. Please comment below and share!wake up daisies

17 thoughts on “Ten Reasons Why You Should Wake Up Early (on vacation)!

  1. Heather

    Wow. You’ve ALMOST convinced me to be a morning person. 🙂 while I don’t typically like to wake up early in the morning, all of these travel tips make sense! I’m definitely going to be much more proactive on my upcoming vacations so I can make the most of my time there. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  3. Janice Johnson

    I’ve always thought the same way, now for convincing my family!! Maybe these ideas will help…thanks!!

  4. Emily Smith

    I always tend to wake up earlier than normal while on vacation, I feel it’s a great way to get the most out of the day!

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  6. Megan | Traveling Nine to Fiver

    Thanks for sharing. This is a great post. I’m not away good at it and my boyfriend sucks at it. But I have been trying to get myself up both while traveling and at home. I also find it is great to have that extra hour just to relax. Just to read a book or enjoy sitting out on a deck. Some great me time before the rest of the world gets going.

  7. Leigh

    I love getting up early on vacations! I feel I’m potentially missing something if I don’t. During our family trip to Paris last year, I got up several hours earlier than the rest of the family each day and went out walking. I even managed to see the sunrise at Sacré-Cœur one morning and see the nuns sing mass. I got back to the apartment and the rest of the family was just rising, and I’d already had an amazing day – and it was just starting!

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  9. Marie

    My dad (lost him 46 years ago) always said that if you miss early morning, you’ve missed the best part of the day. When I am up early – on vacation or not – and listening to the birds and enjoying the peace that comes with every ‘early morning, I think of him and wish he was here with me. Thanks for the good life lesson and advice Dad! Yes, get up and enjoy those beautiful early morning hours. :0)

  10. Pedro chapman

    A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing. This is an incredible post. I’m not away acceptable at it and my beau sucks at it. In any case, I have been attempting to get myself up both while voyaging and at home. I likewise discover it is incredible to have that additional hour just to unwind. Just to peruse a book or appreciate sitting out on a deck. Some incredible personal time before the remainder of the world gets moving.

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