What’s in my Carry-On: The Best Gear for Sleeping on an Airplane
Sleeping on an airplane is hard AF, but I have a few items to help me pass out. Here’s the best gear for sleeping on a plane.
A good blanket: This is essential because airplanes are always freezing cold. I have a dedicated airplane blanket that I bring on trips and immediately throw into the washer when I get home. The one I use is a freebie from a long-ago business class flight and is thin enough to be rolled into the bottom of my backpack, but also long enough to cover me from neck to feet.
A sleep mask: Many long-haul international flights will include a sleep mask in the amenity kit, and if you’re not picky, it will do the trick. (I often stockpile them and keep a few in my bag.) If you want something a bit fancier at a great price point, the Unimi Sleep Mask has a contoured 3D cover that doesn’t smoosh your eyeballs and creates total darkness. I definitely recommend this if you’re wearing mascara.
Travel pillow: I rave about my go-to neck pillow here. It’s amazing.
Slippers: My go-to trick is to snag a pair of hotel slippers—the flimsy free kind that come in plastic packaging—and use them instead for a long-haul flight. I slip on a pair of “flight socks” and then wear the slippers to use the bathroom or walk around. Dispose immediately upon wear.
Flight socks: Like my blanket, I have a dedicated pair of socks for the airplane. Compression socks are ideal for long-haul flights, and any comfy pair will work for shorter flights. And just like my “flight blanket,” I wash them when I get home and throw them back into my travel bag.
Head phones: These days, almost all in-flight entertainment will have a meditation or sleep-based channel that’s ideal for dozing. A lot of frequent fliers use noise-canceling headphones, but I’m fine with any old pair—just plug in and doze away.
Lavender roll-on: Unlike a perfume or spray, the smell of this roll-on isn’t aggressive enough to pester fellow travelers.
Sleep aids: My sleep aid of choice is airplane wine. You’ll find dozens of experts who will tell you to avoid alcohol while in-flight, but I find zero pleasure in that, and—to me—there’s something wonderful about kicking back with a movie and a plastic cup of cabernet. If I’m feeling extra, I’ll take a melatonin or a Good Day Chocolate sleep aid.
A Ritual: Not a product, but like a child’s bedtime routine, a travel pre-sleep ritual will help signal sleep. For a long-haul flight, I like to first chill out by watching a cheesy movie—anything I won’t miss while dozing. I’ll enjoy the in-flight meal, if served, and have a glass of wine or two. I’ll then apply my travel beauty essentials (a post on that later), put on my socks, neck pillow, lavender oil, and sleep mask—and pass out.