Planning a trip to a faraway place is exciting, but many travelers dread the long-haul flights. To arrive feeling rested and ready to explore, you’ll need to sleep on the plane, but that can be tricky. Noisy neighbors, turbulence, crying babies are just a few of the things that are out of your control, so it's best to focus on what you can do to make your flight more comfortable. Here are a few tips and tricks that I use that may help you too.
Splurge on business class or premium economy.
Lie-flat seats are best for sleep, thanks to their ample space and privacy, but there are ways to make sure that your trip is comfortable without splurging on a pricey ticket. Premium economy can be a great compromise, with extra legroom, more space to recline, and wider seats (depending on the airline), all for less than the price of a business or first-class seat.
Choose your seat wisely in the main cabin.
If you’d rather save money and stick to the main cabin, choose your seat carefully. I always prefer a window seat so there's something to lean against while sleeping. To avoid the commotion of people passing by your seat, choose a seat farther away from the galley or restrooms to eliminate some of that noise.
Consider the flight’s timing.
If you have a flight that crosses multiple time zones, you’ll need to keep a few things in mind. Try to adjust your sleep schedule several days ahead of the flight to better accommodate your destination’s time zone. When choosing a flight, consider the times that best fit with your typical sleep schedule. For example, if you’re flying to Europe from the U.S. and have options for overnight flights departing at 7 p.m. or 11 p.m., pick the time closest to when you would normally fall asleep.
Fly direct whenever possible.
To maximize your sleep time, choose direct flights whenever you can. If you choose two four-hour flights, you might be able to sleep for a few hours total, but if you opt for one eight-hour flight, you’ll be able to settle in and sleep for several hours, feeling more rested when you reach your destination. And, you won’t have to stress over making any connecting flights when you fly direct.
Skip the coffee.
Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages just before the flight, and ask your doctor for advice if you’re thinking about taking any sleeping aids or supplements to help you fall asleep. If certain foods or alcohol make it difficult for you to sleep normally, you’ll want to pass on those before and during your flight, too.
Don't forget to pack items that will make you comfortable.
Neck pillows, noise-canceling headphones, and eye masks might take up a little extra room in your carry-on, but you’ll be happy you packed them once the lights go down and you have hours to go before you reach your destination. Invest in a comfortable sleep mask that will block out light and a neck pillow that will support your head. High-quality, noise-canceling headphones will block out loud neighbors and the plane’s white noise.
Dress for the situation.
We all want to look nice when arriving at our final destination, but this is one time when you might want to put comfort over style. A comfortable travel outfit with layers is a must. Planes can range from warm to downright freezing, so wear a jacket or sweater to stay warm during your flight.
Buckle your seatbelt.
Whether you use the plane’s blanket or bring your own, be sure to fasten your seatbelt over it, so flight attendants know you’re buckled up and won’t have to disturb you in case of turbulence.
This is easier said than done, but you’ll need to relax if you hope to get some sleep on your next flight. Don’t stress if you can’t fall asleep right away- just sit back and try to get as much rest as you can before setting off on your adventure.
Plan to take it easy on your arrival day.
Since so many travelers find it difficult to sleep on planes, it's always best to stay up and acclimate to the local time zone when you arrive. Try not to fall asleep as soon as you get to your hotel. Take it easy and avoid packing too much into your arrival day, so you’re not too sleepy for the rest of your vacation.