How To Master Red-Eye Flights

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Megan Bryant is a passionate writer and traveler who has combined her two loves to help others fulfill their traveling dreams. When she isn’t writing, she’s usually curled up with her 3 Dachshunds and a good book or planning her next adventure—wherever that may be.

Red-eye flights are a popular choice for travelers flying long distances, as who wants to waste daytime hours on a plane? Getting their name from the groggy look of the passengers who are disembarking the plane, red-eye flights typically depart their origin at night and arrive at their destination in the morning, maximizing your time at home and your destination. 

But although red-eyes do have their benefits, they aren’t the easiest flights to catch, and doing them wrong can result in a sleepless night and, understandably, a bad mood. No one wants their vacation to be off to a bad start, which is why it’s important to master your red-eye flight so that way you arrive at your destination as refreshed and bubbly as possible.

Whether you have a red-eye flight booked or you’re looking for tips for future travel, here are ten ways to make red-eye flights that little bit more bearable.

Book a Late Night Red-Eye Flight

Night Flight
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If you have the option, book one of the latest red-eye flights to ensure you’re as tired as possible. For example, if you booked a red-eye flight at 9 pm, you won’t be overly tired, and you’ll find it difficult to fall asleep. But if you booked a flight at 11:30 pm, then it’s highly likely you’ll be yawning before even getting on the plane.

Always Book a Window Seat

Window Seat
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Even if you’re usually someone who loves an aisle seat, for a red-eye flight, always book a window seat. Window seats are elite on red-eye flights because not only do they ensure you won’t be woken up if someone on your row needs the toilet, but they also give you something to lean your head up against, improving the comfort of your not-so-comfy plane seat.

Eat Dinner Before Boarding the Plane

Plane Food
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Plane food is usually pretty bland, so you won’t miss out on anything by skipping it. Eating food in the airport before you depart will not only provide a more substantial and tasty meal, but it will also mean that you won’t be woken up during your slumber.

Invest in a Neck Pillow

Neck Pillow 1
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Most planes have adjustable headrests on their seats, but there are some—especially budget airlines—that don’t. Whether your plane has adjustable headrests or not, it’s best to invest in a good quality neck pillow, as it can make all the difference in terms of comfort. And you’re less likely to wake up with pain in your neck. 

Avoid Alcohol and Coffee

Coffee on a Plane
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Although free coffee and alcohol are tempting, they don’t help when it comes to sleep. Some people may swear by a glass of wine to help them fall asleep faster on a plane, but as alcohol dehydrates you, and planes in themselves are dehydrating, you’ll wake up feeling even more groggy than if you didn’t have that glass of wine.

Wear Comfy, Warm Clothing

Comfy Clothing on Plane
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Dressing appropriately for your flight can really make or break it. So, when you’re planning your plane outfit, think about comfort and warmth. Flowy trousers, leggings, or tracksuit bottoms paired with a t-shirt, sweater, or hoodie will ensure you’re comfortable throughout your entire flight. You should also pack thick socks as your feet will be the first part of your body that gets cold.

Take Your Own Blanket

Blanket on Plane
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Typically on red-eye flights, you’ll be given a blanket, but there are some airlines that have very limited resources, meaning you may be left blanketless. For this reason, you should always pack your own blanket. And even if your flight does provide one blanket per seat, you can use your extra blanket as a pillow, so it really doesn’t hurt to bring one!

Buckle Your Seatbelt Over Your Blanket

Plane Blanket
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Airlines do mention over the tannoy that you should buckle your seatbelt over your blanket, but here’s a reminder just in case! Buckling your seatbelt over your blanket will prevent cabin crew from waking you up if the plane were to experience turbulence or when you’re landing.

Purchase Ear Plugs

Earplugs on Plane
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Earplugs—and a good eye mask—can make all the difference to your red-eye flight, as, let’s be honest, planes aren’t the quietest of places, especially if there are young children in the seats around you. Earplugs will help block out the noise so you can hopefully get a peaceful night’s sleep.

Freshen Up in the Morning

Freshen Up on Plane
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Freshening up before you land can help alleviate that groggy feeling, allowing you to step off the plane somewhat refreshed. Pack a toothbrush, toothpaste, and some wet wipes and hit the plane’s lavatory about an hour before landing. Some people even do a full skincare and makeup routine—I guess that’s a good way to waste some time.

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Lake Tahoe
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Arches National Park
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