When I was preparing for my trip to England back in May, I had such high hopes for the redeye flight over. The last time I few internationally I was 6, so I didn’t have any reliable tricks to fall back on, but I did a LOT of research online and I prepped and packed so carefully and I was so confident that I would get on the plane, settle in, and get a decent amount of sleep. How do you think that went?
It didn’t go well.
Not at all as I planned. I think that a big part of it was that I had an out of the ordinary flight experience with some particularly tricky seat mates (like putting their bare feet in my area and touching my legs, tapping to wake me up and ask me simple questions, talking at a crazy loud volume for HOURS), but I still did manage to get a few minutes of sleep.
After all the reading and researching and planning, here’s my advice on how to survive a redeye flight – whether you end up getting to sleep or not.
Book the window seat. This is by far the BEST advice I can give (besides having enough money to get the fancy seats that recline all the way. Obviously go that route if you can.) If you are going the cheap route, do everything in your power to get a window seat. Having the option of resting your head against the side of the plane and not just against the back of your seat will give you at least one more option to try and get comfortable enough to sleep.
Bring earplugs. Or noise cancelling headphones. Or both!! Anything to block out the noise of your neighbors and the flight attendants. Even if you aren’t able to sleep, sitting in the quiet can be really nice and more relaxing. If you do have really good headphones and want to skip the earplugs, I highly recommend downloading a good white noise app to help drown out the coughing and talking and airplane sounds.
Pack a sleeping mask. This one was so key for me. The screens were still pretty bright, and it was nice just to totally cover up my eyes and have no light coming in. Normally wearing a sleeping mask will keep people from bothering you, too. That wasn’t the case for me. Even while wearing my sleeping mask, the lady next to me felt the need to poke my shoulder to ask me things like “where is the bathroom?” and “how do I watch a movie?” and I wish I was kidding.
Have some essentials on hand. By essentials, I just mean little things that are really nice to have that you might not think of. Like hand lotion. And a full bottle of water (to drink toward the end of the flight.) And an extra ponytail holder (the seats made my hair SO staticky).
Get cozy in the terminal. Since I was flying in the cheap seats, there was literally NO room once seated to do basically anything. I could barely reach down to grab my bag, let alone do something like put on comfy socks. So anything you might want to do on the plane, like put on your favorite cozy sweater or put on your compression socks – do it before stepping foot on the plane.
Don’t feel obligated to eat the in-flight meal. I skipped it and it was, in my opinion, a great decision. Not eating in the middle of the night helped me mentally to think that it was night time and I didn’t have to try and wake up just to eat or get energized after a full meal.
But do have something for “breakfast” with you. Since it was ‘technically’ morning, I wanted to get my mind in the right place by eating some breakfast. I packed a granola bar and it was just enough energy to pep me up and keep me awake while waiting to go through customs.
Keep your expectations low. Flights are so unpredictable, mainly because the people around you are so unpredictable. Keep your expectations low, don’t expect to get too much sleep, and you’ll do just fine.