If you’re trying to save a few dollars while traveling, red-eye flights are the way to go. They are usually cheaper than mid-morning or afternoon flights, and they are a great option for traveling long distances so you can sleep.
That being said, it’s not always a fun experience. One bachelor party or crying baby on your plane and you’re almost guaranteed not to sleep.
I’ve come to actually really enjoy flying red-eye (crazy, I know) and I think it’s because through my experience on these flights, I’ve developed habits that work for me.
Here’s what to pack and what to do to prep for your late night travels.
Packing the Goods
First and foremost, my neck pillow comes with my in my carry on bag. The Cabeau Evolution Pillow is a total game-changer in the neck pillow game! It’s so soft and comfortable and even has a pocket for a sleep mask so packing everything up is really simple. It’s made of memory foam that compresses to squish into overpacked luggage but also molds to your position in your seat. I highly recommend it!
I bring a sleeping mask as well in case the seats around me have bright screens or my fellow travelers like the windows open. Some airlines will provide masks for you, so you can check that beforehand if you don’t want an extra item in your bag.
Next up is a good book. I like bringing a book for red-eye flight, though I’m not generally reading them on the plane. I like reading at the gate before my flight to help me start getting drowsy and if I just can’t sleep on the plane I have an activity to stay occupied and prep me for more sleep.
Remember your travel toiletries on the plane with you so you can brush your teeth when you wake up, wash your face before you take off, or keep your skin moisturized mid-flight. Even easier if they’re liquid-free!
Bring some cozy socks so you’re not trapped in your shoes and your feet stay warm. I have quite the selection of cozy socks, but if you want to do double duty, pedicure socks are great to keep everything moisturized and feeling refreshed when you wake up!
I always bring a big jacket, sweater, and/or scarf on the plane with me to use as a blanket. I hate packing an extra blanket that I won’t use the duration of my trip, so a jacket does double-duty.
Finally, you can’t forget headphones to either work as semi-ear plugs or sleep to white noise or music.
How to Prepare
Wear pajamas or comfortable clothes! Seriously being in the right clothing puts you in a mindset of sleep and makes the entire experience a lot more enjoyable. Either wear them to the airport or bring a change in your bag if you’d like to make a seemingly glamorous entrance through security.
I like treating myself to a face mask before I hit the airport, or if I’m running late, at the gate (I realize I must look crazy at the airport at this point). Flying dries out your skin to begin with, and your nightly rest is generally when skin repairs and rejuvenates. You have to make sure it’s prepped for success as well. My favorite is the rose face mask by fresh.
It seems counterintuitive, but it really helps to take a nap beforehand. Usually if I nap during the day, I just cannot fall asleep at night, but taking an hour or so before you head to the airport helps in the case you’re on a loud plane and can’t get sleep. There’s nothing worse than getting yourself tired for a flight that you can’t sleep on.
If you really can’t sleep on planes, it helps to take some melatonin, chamomile tea, or other natural supplements. I like having some tea with me as I wait at the gate and read, and once I’m on the plane I feel out whether I’ll have a hard time falling asleep or not. If I’m just not feeling tired or I want to be on the safe side, I take VitaMelts from Nature Made. These tablet slowly dissolve (and taste like chocolate mint!) to help induce your natural hormones to help with sleep. Of course, check with doctors beforehand if this is safe for you!
Finally, do some yoga! Stretching and relaxing your body and muscles helps you fall asleep much easier and puts you in a tranquil mood. I do this at the gate, so there’s not much space for downward dogs, but simple stretches and poses really ease your body.