How to Survive an Overnight Flight

February 03, 2016

When it comes to international travel, overnight flights are a necessary evil. What better way to save a precious vacation day and maximize your time on the ground, right?

While an upright airline seat is a serious comfort downgrade from your bed. There are a few flying tips and tricks to help get you through your next red-eye flying experience and arrive ready to seize the day.

1. Avoid Connections –  The only thing worse than one overnight flight is two overnight flights with a layover in-between. When it comes to international travel, you may save some money with a stop-over where you don’t change planes, this is bearable. Be prepared for the lights to come on and the in-flight entertainment system to be shut down. Make sure you have a movie dialed up on your iPad.

2. Choose the Right Seat – Window seats are the best because you can use a pillow or sweatshirt to create some padding between you and the wall of the plane. If you’re in a window seat, don’t drink too much before the flight so you don’t have to wake your neighbors.

3. Have a Pre-Flight Checklist – Set the mood before you board the plane. Avoid coffee, eat a light meal and just before boarding. Try to recreate as much of your usual bedtime routine as possible. Wash your face and brush your teeth, aside from practicing good-hygiene, these actions will help your body remember that it’s bedtime.

4. Pack a Pillow & Eye Mask – Two of the small creature comforts you can easily add to a carryon to make sleeping on a plane somewhat tolerable. I recommend the pillows that go around your neck to prevent the dreaded slow forward lean & backward thrust muscle spasm. Eye masks were previously given out standard on overnight flights but many airlines no longer offer them.

5. Get a good pair of headphones – Noise-canceling headphones are great, just keep in mind that many of them run on batteries. You’ll want to make sure your rechargeable ones are fully loaded and it’s probably a good idea to bring an extra set.

6. Dress the Part – Regulating your temperature on overnight is essential to staying asleep. Outdoor brands like Patagonia make great gear for camping, hiking and fly fishing, which I strongly recommend for travel. Also, make sure to wear a good pair of warm socks. Also be advised if you’re sitting next to a window, in the bulkhead or next to an exit, these seats are typically colder than others.

7. It’s Ok to Medicate – This can range from natural and homeopathic sleeping aids to a glass of wine to actual sleeping pills. Be sure to wait until the plane takes off before you ingest so you don’t end up trying to reconfigure flights or book a last-minute hotel while under the influence.

8. Prepare for Landing – Waking up on an overnight flight can be a painful experience. This is where it’s good to have that extra bottle of water and some snacks to get you through morning hunger. Try to hold off eating a full meal until it’s appropriate for the time zone you’re landing in.

9. Plan an Easy Day – Research options for getting from the airport to the hotel and figure out if the airport will have free Wifi. If you can, work with companies like American Concierge to coordinate pickup from the airport and drop-off at the hotel to make sure the last leg of your travel is safe and hassle-free. Also, don’t try to do too much on your first day. Plan to get plenty of sunlight, drink lots of water, try to eat healthly and take a walk to stretch your legs and to help you sleep that night.

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Comment (1)

davidcarr07@gmail.com says:
5 years ago

Great article. Very helpful