Red-Eye Flight Travel Tips

Are you planning an upcoming trip that requires an overnight “red-eye” flight?  

DIY overnight flight travel kit

I have taken enough of them to have experienced every discomfort one can endure, and have come up with what I think is a mostly foolproof way to get the best sleep possible while flying coach on an airplane.
Maybe one day I will have the funds to fly first class or in those business class seats that are little beds where one can sleep fully reclined.  Until that day comes for both of us, I give you...

My Red-Eye Flight Sleeping Kit

red-eye flight travel kit
  • Travel Pillows (two kinds: neck and wedge)
  • Shawl to serve as a blanket
  • Eyepatch
  • Earplugs
  • Over the counter sleep aid. 

I have purchased and tested several travel pillows and have come to the conclusion that if you are going to get solid sleep on a flight, you need two.  

This duo will serve you well even if you get stuck in the dreaded middle seat. 
The inflatable wedge pillow doesn’t take up much room in your carry-on bag and inflates in no time at all.  It fits right on your lap, gives you a place to rest all the weight of your upper body for the most ‘bed-like’ feeling you can get while sitting upright.  The hole in the middle allows for breathing in a face-forward position but you can also rotate your head to both sides.  It’s designed so you can wrap your arms around it and hug it like a pillow. It gives you a place for your arms, as well as holding the wedge in place. 
The neck pillow is the second part of this combo.  You need both because you will be moving around in your seat.  Wiggling and readjusting is inevitable and you don’t want to be fumbling around trying to reposition or locate pillows.  

The neck pillow will already be there in place so your sleepy self needn’t give it a thought. 

Not just any neck pillow though, it needs to be this one because of the way it tucks under your chin and holds up your head.  It’s small enough that it doesn’t get in the way of the wedge while still holding up your noggin when you lean back in your seat.  
The next thing you’ll want to think about is a blanket.  I know the airlines provide scratchy, thin blankets in plastic bags to all passengers but we can do better.  I bought this travel shawl which was the perfect layering piece for travel.  It’s like a jacket and blanket all in one.  Not too thick, not too thin.  And soft.  It’s also the perfect size.  It kept me warm and stayed in place the whole night.  
It was even big enough for me to remove my bra without anyone knowing while I sat in my seat on the plane.  COMFORT IS OF UTMOST IMPORTANCE!  It had to be done. 
The last few things in my kit fit nicely in a little ziplock bag.  An eye-patch to block light, some industrial grade earplugs and some over-the-counter sleep aid pills which I took an hour before take off so I was ready to sleep as soon as I sat down. 
Honestly, this combination of items made the biggest difference.  It was the very best sleep I’ve ever had on an airplane.  That is until the baby in the seat behind me started screaming.  Didn’t see that one coming, but after the fact, I had the thought that headphones playing white noise might help.  I use a white noise app in hotels that is fantastic. 
On my most recent flight to the East Coast, I was to land very early Saturday morning and then we were headed straight to NYC to play.  This is why it was crucial I get some quality sleep.  

I was a little worried about feeling like a zombie all day so in addition to my sleep planning, I made myself a little morning-after-a-red-eye-recovery-kit. 

It was gold. 
Here's what I included:
morning after red-eye flight travel kit
  • Wet wipes for face, hands, pits, or anywhere you want to freshen up. 
  • Waterless toothbrushes.  These can really freshen up your mouth.
  • Travel-size mouthwash.  Obvious reasons. 
  • Travel-size deodorant.  A wet-wipe and deodorant is basically a shower, right?
  • A Snickers bar or something to put some sugar in your veins.  Remember it’s an airplane so you can’t pack liquid.  I was going for things I could put in my kit.  But, you could caffeinate yourself upon landing of course.
  • The last thing I put in my kit is an essential oil spray.  I have seen refreshing face sprays in stores before, but I wanted one that would serve as a periodic “pick-me-up” throughout the day.  I thought it would be nice to incorporate peppermint since it’s energizing.  
This spray smelled amazing and worked beautifully.  It is a mixture of water, witch hazel, rose oil and peppermint oil.  (Get the full recipe HERE.)
I used it several times while walking around the city and found it to be just the pick-me-up I had hoped for. 
A decent night's sleep and proper care the following morning will make your trip so much more enjoyable and there won't be any time wasted on recovery from the flight. 
I hope you find these tips useful.  Sleep well!

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  • I travel tons and do get lots of red eyes. Your kit is perfect. Exactly what I use.

    Barbara on
  • Amazing ideas!! I need the spray, and the neck pillow. One of the best times I’ve had was being in NYC after a red-eye that basically zero sleep happened. Classic memories I cherish. 😊

    Erin on
  • That’s really some cool and useful suggestions…especially for the long flights to India! Thanks

    Alice on
  • We’re planning a trip to New Zealand later this year and I’ve been stressing about sleeping on such a long flight. This list is awesome! I’ve already started loading my Amazon shopping cart with some of these beauties!

    Kathy Lund on

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