I love red eye flights. Okay, maybe love is a strong word, but I certainly don’t hate them! I love flying in general, and if I’m flying for more than 6 hours, I don’t mind killing two birds with one stone and getting some sleep while I’m in the air. It’s a great feeling to know you are just a sleep away from your destination, and you’re not wasting daylight stuck in an airplane. Red eyes are nice because they’re dark and quiet. Everyone else generally has the same idea as you; to get some shut eye. While I clearly don’t think these flights are too bad to begin with, there are some things that will make you more comfortable when flying into the wee hours of the night.
1. Get Sleep!
This seems basic, but the best way to survive a red eye is to fall asleep! Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake after 2 pm. Try to reduce your exposure to bright lights before your flight takes off. Wake up early the day of your flight, and then you’re more likely to fall asleep early. If you know you’ll have trouble falling asleep on your own, consider products like DreamWater to help you doze off and wake up feeling refreshed. You can also avoid jet lag with products like No Jet Lag.
2. Eye mask + Ear plugs!
You absolutely need to have an eye mask and ear plugs when flying a red eye. While the cabin lights are dim, they are still on, and a mask helps keep any trace of light out of your eyes. Ear plugs are nice to drown out any residual noise but anyone who may stay away, or from the plane itself. My favorite is this combo from REI. It’s $11.00 and comes with both the mask and the ear plugs. The mask is soft and plush, yet conforms close enough to your eyes to keep out any of hint of light. The mask also has a small pouch in the front to store the ear plugs when you aren’t using them.
3. Wear loose, comfortable clothing.
The high elevation can make your body swell a bit, so make sure you’re wearing loose clothing. Also wear layers. If you get too warm, you can take your sweater off, and vice versa. I also make a point to wear shoes that are easy to get on and off. It helps when going through security, and also makes it easy to take them off when you’re on the plane. You’re never going to fall asleep if you’re not comfortable, so wear your comfiest clothes!
4. Pick your seat wisely.
Generally, the easiest way to get some shut eye on a flight is to sit near the window. You can lean your head against the wall, and you don’t have to deal with getting up and down to let other people out. Personally, I know that I always have to use the restroom on long flights, so I always choose an aisle seat. Again, most people sleep during red eyes, so even on the aisle I don’t have to get up very often. Just select the seat that will make you the most comfortable.
5. Pack some things to help you freshen up.
Once you arrive in your destination, it’s nice to have some supplies on hand that will help you feel more refreshed. On my last red eye I packed a travel size mouthwash, some lip balm, and some mascara in my carry on. When I arrived on the other side of the country at 8 am, I popped into the airport restroom and freshened up my makeup, and swigged some mouthwash. I also immediately got a bottle of water, some coffee, and a hearty breakfast. That alone made me feel more awake, rejuvenated, and ready to take on the day.
Red eye flights can be a wonderful way to fly long distances without losing a day of work or travel. They’re also cheaper, and generally less full, making it easier to store your baggage. Plus, you don’t have to worry about paying $10 for a cheese and cracker box, or sitting through an awful movie. Just make yourself as comfortable as possible, and sleep your way across the world!