Yes, you read that correctly: you can enjoy the red-eye flight. The red-eye is ‘no trip to Disneyland’ but it does mean you’re going on a trip! – one you’ve probably been dreaming of for a long time, maybe your whole life. So turn that dread into excitement and prepare yourself with these simple to follow tips.
Mentally prepare yourself
This is probably the most important key to enjoying a red-eye flight: learning to manage your expectations. We often hear people say things like, “I’m just going to sleep on the plane.” Sorry, but that’s not going to happen – at least not as much as you hoped.
Many people see a flight itinerary of 8 or so hours and equate that with a full night’s sleep. (Not to mention, a red-eye flight occurs during your typical sleep cycle.) However, about three hours of the flight are dedicated for services. The first hour and a half is for take-off and dinner service, the last hour and a half for breakfast service and landing. Already, that’s three hours of flight time with the lights on, announcements over the speaker, updates from the captain, talking, flight attendants roaming the aisles, and, of course – eating!
Girly Traveler Tip: Set your expectations on napping. If you view your sleep time on the plane as a 1-2 hour nap, your expectations will most likely be met and you will be satisfied. Any more sleep will exceed your expectations which will feel like a nice bonus!
Make Yourself Comfy
So we’ve established that your time spent sleeping will be limited, but you can try to maximize it by making yourself as comfortable as possible. So how do we suggest you do this?
1. Dress for sleeping
Most people wear jeans on the plane but would you sleep in jeans at home? We wouldn’t. And you’re right, what you would sleep in at home probably isn’t appropriate to wear in public…so let’s compromise, shall we? Luckily for us, activewear has actually become stylish in the last couple years so why look any further than your favorite pair of (super comfy!) yoga pants.
Make sure to cap them off with a pair of thick socks to keep your toes warm. (Those planes get chilly!) And this is one place where people will actually see your socks (Does anyone actually keep their shoes on their feet on the plane?) so pick something fun.
2. Hoard blankets and pillows (if you can)
Let’s start out by saying it is not cool to steal other passengers blankets! But if the seat next to you is wide open after everyone is on board (Hallelujah!! Your prayers have been answered!) that blanket is up for grabs- so grab it! You can also ask the flight attendants if there are any extra linens. You’d be surprised how many people place these necessities in the overhead bin.
Don’t worry- if you find yourself stuck on a fully booked flight you’ll still have a customary single blanket and pillow waiting for you on your seat. Here’s how you use it:
- Place the pillow behind your back for lumbar support.
- Place the blanket between the armrest and your body on the side you plan to lean against -this comfort makes a world of difference.
Girly Traveler Tip: Pack a travel pillow for your head and a blanket to stay warm because a comfortable flight is key to starting a trip off right. A fleece blanket folds well. If you run out of room in your carry-on, wear a warm cardigan to the airport which you can then use as a blanket on the plane.
3. Wear an Eye Mask
This will block out any extra cabin lights (incase the person next to you has their reading light on) and ensures that your sleep is not disrupted.
Worried about looking silly? You’re already hoarding pillows while wearing yoga pants….what’s one more thing? Besides, when other people see you sleeping while they’re tossing and turning they won’t be thinking about how ridiculous you look. They’ll be wishing they were smart enough to bring all those luxuries!
Pack a snack
Actually pack about 5 snacks. (We all know airplane food is lacking in appeal…) So pack snacks you will look forward to eating.
Treat yourself! Flying is like a holiday- give yourself permission to eat things you normally wouldn’t.
Girly Traveler Tip: Buy a gourmet snack, like chocolate covered pretzels during the week leading up to your flight. It’ll get you excited to fly because you’ll look forward to indulging. However, always bring a high-protein snack as well. As delicious as dessert is, it won’t get you through an overnight flight. Pistachios are a great choice! They have protein to keep you full and they’re nice and crunchy to help pop your ears after altitude changes.
Make it a movie night
Come on, you know you love binging on Netflix at home. You’re already in your yoga pants and snacking on your favorite foods so why not look at this the same way? This is your chance to catch up on the latest movies or try out a new show. So here’s the tried and true strategy:
- Make a mental list of the movies/shows you’d like to watch as soon as you’re seated.
- Start watching your first pick throughout the meal service.
- When you feel sleepy, turn it off and try to sleep. (Sleep is still your first priority!)
- When the inevitable moment comes that you cannot sleep, continue watching your top pick. That way, instead of focusing on how you can’t sleep, you’ll instead look forward to watching something you enjoy.
And there you have it! See, a red-eye flight can be enjoyable! You just have to train yourself to manage your expectations.
So don’t let the ‘dreaded red-eye’ hold you back from booking the trip you dream about taking. Rather, look at it as a fun part of the journey. Now go see the world, Girly Traveler!