While there’s no arguing that flying is a serious privilege, economy air travel isn’t exactly known for its comfort and ease. Yes, it’s incredible that we can get on an airplane one evening and step off on the other side of an ocean the next morning, but we often do so groggy and sleep-deprived. From crying babies to intrusive seatmates to the roar of the airplane engine, there’s a lot standing between you and your Zzz’s on a plane, but with a little planning and preparation, it’s totally doable. Here’s how:
Airplanes are as dry as the Sahara which can be tough on your body, both inside and out. Before an overnight flight, spend the day drinking lots of water or herbal teas to avoid feeling parched while you fly. A small glass of water in the air before you settle in to sleep is okay, but don’t overdo it or your bladder will keep you awake (or worse: it’ll interrupt your nap just when you manage to drift off). Have a bottle of water, lip balm, and moisturizer on hand for when you wake up feeling dehydrated.
Skip the airplane meal
It’s almost impossible to sleep when your stomach is wide awake. You wouldn’t eat a big meal and hop straight into bed, so why expect that to work on the airplane? Instead, eat at home or in the airport (where dining options are getting better and better all the time). That way, you give your body the time it needs to digest. There’s always the morning meal if you really love airplane dining.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol
The first one is a bit of a no-brainer. Not only does caffeine keep you awake, but it also dehydrates you. The second rule can be a bit harder to follow, but trust: alcohol may calm your nerves and help you drift off to sleep but the rest you’ll get will be fitful and short. And have we mentioned dehydration?
Or as comfortable as possible in your limited amount of economy class space. Our recommendations: shoes off, warm socks on. Wrap yourself in a blanket, cozy coat, or giant scarf and buckle your seatbelt on top of it. That way, if there’s any turbulence, the flight attendants won’t have to wake you to check to see if you’re belted in safely.
Pack the right tools
Noise-cancelling headphones have made otherwise unendurable transatlantic flights a dream for many a traveller. They can be pricey, but you’re unlikely to ever regret the purchase (bonus: they’re great for anyone who works in an open-concept office, too). Eye masks are a must if you’re sensitive to the reading light the night owl next to you insists on using, and a neck pillow can save you from some serious stiffness the next day. Our favourite? The cozy polar fleece-covered Trtl Pillow which provides a bit more support than the traditional neck pillow.
Choose your seat wisely
Air traveller: know thyself. Are you the kind of person who’s going to have to get up during the flight or the kind of person who won’t be able to get back to sleep if your seatmate needs to? Choose a window versus an aisle seat accordingly and don’t be afraid to claim your space. A knee or elbow edging into your territory is an air travel faux pas and you shouldn’t be afraid to say so (politely, of course).