Let’s not mince words: red-eye flights are the worst. These are the ones that depart around 11 PM at night and get you home in the wee hours of the morning. There are two main reasons people take red-eye flights: either they want to get home to their families or the office without losing an entire extra day, or they simply need to save money since red-eye flights are often (though not always) cheaper.
But they can wreak havoc on your body since you are forced to sleep (or try to) on the plane, then get home after not having had a good night’s sleep. Plus, you need to check out of your hotel early, at least by noon, have your bags held, and occupy yourself for an entire day before heading to the airport around 9 PM. How can you get through a red-eye flight with minimal headache? Here are 10 tips for you to follow.
10 Leave Your Luggage After Checking Out of a Hotel
Even if you only have carry-on, rather than wheel your luggage around with you everywhere, simply leave it at the bell desk at the hotel after you check out so you can enjoy the extra day, hands-free. Make sure to bring a big purse or backpack to take essentials with you and leave your clothing and toiletries behind.
Being on a red-eye flight means you have an entire day to do things. So if you aren’t in a business meeting, or had a quick meeting in the morning and the rest of the day to kill, treat it like another day of your vacation or trip and don’t walk around with your suitcase just waiting until you need to head to the airport.
9 Make the Most of Your Extra Day
Live it up! You have an extra day at your destination, so explore. If you aren’t busy with work meetings or other plans, walk around the area, have a nice, relaxing lunch and dinner, visit friends, go to a park, or buy tickets to a show.
You want to stay somewhat close to your luggage, of course, and leave yourself enough time to get back, pick it up, then get to the airport. But rather than bide your time, make the most of it and do something fun. You can even head to the airport early, have dinner there, get a quick massage, then break out your laptop and get some work done just as you would during a regular work day.
8 Bring a Pillow, Eye Mask, or Ear Plugs
Since you’ll be trying to catch some ZZZs on the plane, bring along whatever you can to help make the process more comfortable. That might include a neck pillow, eye mask, or even ear plugs or noise-cancelling headphones so you can listen to soothing tunes to help put you to sleep, or just minimize the constant humming sounds of the airplane engine.
Some people find it difficult to sleep on planes. But if you are equipped with the right gear, it might be a bit easier to at least close your eyes and get some rest, even if it isn’t full-blown sleep.
7 Get Some Sleep!
That said, if you’re able to, try your best to get some sleep on the plane. Remember, you’ll be arriving home when everyone is just ready to wake up, or fast asleep and waking up in a few short hours. If you don’t have kids, you might be able to sleep in and catch up on the lack of sleep.
But if you have young children, have to head to work, have important appointments or chores the next day, you’ll be absolutely exhausted. Especially after going through customs (if necessary) upon arrival at the airport, getting your luggage (if necessary) then making your way home.
6 Listen to Calming Music
Don’t overstimulate yourself by watching television or straining your eyes to read while the lights are out and others are trying to sleep. While watching TV shows and reading are a great idea for standard flights, it might be best to just focus on getting rest on a red-eye.
If you feel like you need something to break the constant quiet, put on a pair of headphones, close your eyes, and listen to some calming music or soothing sounds that can help put you to sleep.
5 Don’t Eat Too Much
Eating too much during or before a red-eye flight can wreak havoc on your stomach and make you feel queasy. Have dinner long before you head to the airport and bring some light snacks with you. But refrain from having another big meal late at night on the airplane.
Drink water (maybe avoid coffee and tea), and wait until you get home to have breakfast. Grab something on your way back home, or have a muffin, yogurt, or some fruit to tide you over until lunch time.
4 Pay For a Seat Upgrade
If there’s ever a time that it’s worth the extra money to pay for a seat upgrade, it’s on a red-eye flight. Even if it affords you some extra legroom, that can make all the difference in being able to stretch out and relax as you try to rest or sleep.
You don’t have to pay big bucks for business class, though sometimes you might get lucky and get upgraded there for a small fee if the plane isn’t full and there’s room. But an extra legroom seat, or a seat closer to the front of the plane so you can get off faster, night be worth it.
3 Take a Cab Home or Have Someone Pick You Up
Rather than park your car at the airport and drive yourself home, arrange to have someone pick you up (an early riser who won’t mind) or take an airport limo or cab. You can use that extra time, especially if you live far from the airport, to get some rest in a more comfortable space.
Plus, if you didn’t manage to get any sleep on the plane, the last thing you want to do is drive a car while overtired. It might cost you extra for the taxi, but it might be the safer all around.
2 Avoid Alcohol
While it’s tempting to have a glass of wine or scotch to warm you up and relax you, either on the plane, in the airport, or before heading to the airport, it’s best to steer clear of alcohol when you know you have a red-eye flight so you can shut down and just sleep or relax. As noted, avoid coffee and tea as well – caffeine is the enemy right now!
Focus on just having water to clean your system out of any toxins you might have had while away (potentially lots of alcohol or coffee!) and give your system a break so you can wind down before arriving back home.
1 Wear Comfortable Clothing
Back in the day, dressing to the nines was a thing for air travel. But air travel isn’t what it used to be. So don’t be ashamed of wearing track paints, running shoes, and a T-shirt or comfortable sweater for traveling, especially if you’re headed back home and not to a destination.
Chances are you’re going to go home and tuck yourself back into bed anyway. Or at the very least, have a shower and put on some nicer clothes. So for the plane, wear something you can comfortably shift around in without feeling restricted.