What’s in my Carry-On: The Best Gear for Sleeping on an Airplane

What’s in my Carry-On: The Best Gear for Sleeping on an Airplane

Image: Pim Chu

Image: Pim Chu

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.  

Our Nerdy In-Flight Ritual

Our Nerdy In-Flight Ritual

How to Keep (Sort of) Fit When While Traveling

How to Keep (Sort of) Fit When While Traveling