If you have a red-eye flight coming up, you’re probably not looking forward to it.
But flying late at night and in the early hours of the morning doesn’t have to be a terrible experience.
From booking the right seat to making sure you pack the right red-eye flight essentials, here are ten tips on how you can survive your red-eye flight to make it more comfortable and enjoyable.
Table of Contents
- 1 1. Book a Window Seat
- 2 2. Book a Flight That Aligns With Your Sleep Schedule
- 3 3. Get Used to Your Destination’s Time Zone
- 4 4. Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol
- 5 5. Wear Loose, Comfortable Clothing
- 6 6. Eat a Small Meal
- 7 7. Take a Sleeping Aid
- 8 8. Bring Items to Help You Sleep
- 9 9. Bring Your Toiletries
- 10 10.. Stay Hydrated
- 11 How to Recover After Your Red-Flight
- 12 1. Take a Nap
- 13 2. Eat and Drink (Healthily)
- 14 3. Exercise
1. Book a Window Seat
As red-eye flights take off late at night and land early the following morning, you’ll definitely want to try to get some sleep in.
For most people, including me, the window seat is the easiest to get some sleep.
So, even if you have to pay extra to choose a seat on your flight, it’s worth booking a window seat, especially as the people in your row won’t ask you to get up every time they need to use the bathroom.
2. Book a Flight That Aligns With Your Sleep Schedule
As mentioned, red-eye flights take off late at night and land early the following morning, but that is still quite a large window.
So if you usually go to bed earlier, book a flight at 10 p.m. instead of midnight.
Conversely, if you aren’t planning to or struggle to sleep on planes, book an earlier flight, so you can arrive at your destination and still be able to get a decent night’s sleep in.
3. Get Used to Your Destination’s Time Zone
Many red-eye flights involve time zone changes, so you can get ahead of the game and prepare yourself by adjusting your sleep schedule a few days to a week before your flight.
If you do this, you will adjust your circadian rhythm to the time zone at your destination.
While this won’t always be possible due to commitments with family, work, and school, adjusting by even a few hours can help.
4. Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol
Even if you’re a caffeine addict, it would be a good idea to avoid drinking any caffeine the day of your flight because it will make it harder to get to sleep, and lead to lower-quality sleep, too.
The same applies to alcohol, too.
Both caffeine and alcohol will also dehydrate you, which can make you feel worse when you land.
5. Wear Loose, Comfortable Clothing
Comfort should be your main concern when taking a red-eye flight, or any other flight for that matter.
So, one of the best ways of surviving a red-eye flight is to wear loose-fitting, breathable, comfortable clothing that will make it easier to sleep in.
6. Eat a Small Meal
It would be a good idea to eat a small meal before your red-eye flight to avoid any digestion problems.
Stick to lean proteins and vegetables, such as a chicken salad, as these are easier to digest.
You might also want to think about skipping the meal service, so you can maximize your sleep time, and bring healthy snacks, like fruit and nuts.
7. Take a Sleeping Aid
Even if you manage to land a window seat, you might want to think about taking a sleeping aid, too, so you can get some much-needed rest on your flight.
You should be careful about what sleeping aid you take, though, because some will leave you groggy and feeling even worse when you land.
Check my best sedatives for flying article, so you can make the right choice.
8. Bring Items to Help You Sleep
Red-eye flight essentials that you should bring with you include items that will help you sleep more easily.
A sleep mask to block out light, noise-canceling headphones or earplugs to drown out noise, a travel pillow, and perhaps even a blanket can all go a long way in providing you with a more comfortable environment to sleep in.
9. Bring Your Toiletries
Shortly before you land or after your land, have your toiletries ready, so you can freshen up.
Brushing your teeth, washing your face, even with facial cleansing wipes, and going through as much of your morning routine that you are able to can go a long in waking you up.
10.. Stay Hydrated
Whether you’re flying short-haul, long-haul, or have a red-eye flight coming up, you will definitely want to stay hydrated.
According to the Aerospace Medical Association, passengers should drink about eight ounces of water every hour they’re flying.
If you’re planning to sleep, this obviously won’t be possible, but before you go to sleep and after you wake up, make sure to drink some water.
How to Recover After Your Red-Flight
So you’ve made it to your destination, probably a bit groggy and not necessarily in the best mood, judging by my own experience.
Here are a few ways you can recover more easily.
1. Take a Nap
Whether you should sleep after a red-eye flight will largely depend on your schedule. If you had to take a red-flight for work or otherwise have to stick to a tight schedule, you might not be able to.
But if you don’t, I recommend having at most a short nap, otherwise you will find it hard to sleep at night, and it will be more difficult to adjust to your new time zone.
2. Eat and Drink (Healthily)
You’re probably going to be pretty hungry and dehydrated once you land, which is unfortunately just the nature of what flying does to your body.
So make sure that you drink water and have a healthy meal after you land.
Shortly before landing, eating an energy bar can be helpful to give you some much-needed energy.
You don’t have to do an intensive workout, but going for a brisk walk, or doing some light yoga won’t tire your body and mind even more, and will help wake you up.
Performing some simple stretches is also a good idea after you’ve been stuck in an airplane seat for hours.
Ella Dunham, a Freelance Travel Journalist and Marketing Manager, boasts an impressive career spanning eight years in the travel and tourism sectors.
Honored as one of "30 Under 30" by TTG Media (the world’s very first weekly travel trade newspaper), a "Tour Operator Travel Guru" and "Legend Award" winner, Ella is also a Fellow of the Institute of Travel, a Member of the Association of Women Travel Executives, has completed over 250 travel modules, and hosts travel-focused segments on national radio shows where she provides insights on travel regulations and destinations.
Ella has visited over 40 countries (with 10 more planned this year).