How to Sleep on an Overnight Flight – Travel Tips

We love to travel abroad, to bike in Europe – cycling the Loire Valley of France or the Danube River of Austria. We love to ski the Alps in winter too. Visiting Chile South America during North American “summer” is a cool getaway for skiers and wine lovers.

What we don’t love about these big trips are the overnight flights- read: red eye. If you have ever flown through the night on a plane, over 6 hours, you know why they call it the red-eye. It’s challenging to arrive at your destination without looking glassy-eyed and being tired. BUT… your vacation has started – and you don’t want to waste your first day of your trip sleeping it off… Besides, you typically arrive in Europe at 7am… and your hotel room isn’t ready for check-in anyway. You want to hit the ground running because your travel meter is running, the hourglass is already depleting.

Here are 10 Travel Tips to get a decent night’s sleep on your flight…

  1. Pack an eye mask, headphones or earplugs, toothbrush & toothpaste, facial wipes, and melatonin, in your carry-on or personal item – keep these handy.
  2. Dress in comfortable clothes that you will be able to sleep in “seamlessly”, but still look respectable.
  3. Consider eating ahead in the airport, so you aren’t waiting on board the flight for meal service that might not come down the aisle until two hours into your flight- and likely isn’t worth the wait.
  4. Hydrate well before your flight. Easy on the salt – so you don’t bloat. Have a water handy – flight attendants don’t love being bothered for beverage service before lift-off.
  5. Have a cocktail if you must, and water, use the restroom, ( I brush my teeth and wash my face with facial wipe – nighttime ritual) then have your melatonin as soon as you’re in flight.
  6. Grab a pillow and blanket to soften your seat area and get cozy, recline as soon as the flight attendants indicate its safe to do so.
  7. Consider slipping off your shoes.
  8. Put on the darkening eye-mask and go to sleep – count sheep or visualize your wonderful trip ahead for some peaceful thoughts. First one to REM wins. Seriously the flight isn’t that long, and you want to achieve as much of your 8 hours sleep as you can.
  9. Early morning in preparation for landing, airplane cabin lights come on (I get up to stretch, use the restroom and brush my teeth, put on some mascara and lipstick to feel fresh). Typically a light breakfast snack is served. Enjoy a coffee, juice, etc., and set your watch and your attitude to your new time zone. Don’t keep referencing “what time it is at home” … that doesn’t help you adapt.
  10. Start your adventure your arrival morning, make it an active Day 1 of fun at your destination, but don’t overdo. Have a nourishing breakfast or lunch, hydrate, and enjoy an early dinner. If your travel holiday includes skiing, hiking, biking, take it easy – don’t go too day one big – just get out and take a few runs skiing for example as you adapt and acclimate.  Then get a really good night’s rest in a real bed so you are all caught up on your z’s for the rest of your trip! And don’t keep referencing “what time it is as home.” That can be crippling as a constant reminder.

This is all basic travel buddy advise, but you’d be surprised how many savvy travelers still watch movies, order drinks, well into the night on the plane, and then they’re miserably tired on the first big day of their trip, claiming “I couldn’t sleep on the plane.”

We strongly advise you, set your watch and set your mind to it – then set yourself up for success with at least a few hours shut-eye and rest on the flight. Visine anyone?  Book your next flight with the best rate and relax!

See our tips on how to pack light and still look glam, not like a tourist! And get out our Printable Travel Packing List
How to be a Good Tourist