Business Travel: Tips for Surviving a Red-Eye Flight


If you’re a business traveler, taking a red-eye flight can get you at your destination early in the morning and ready to work. But it can be hard on your body. Here are some tips to help you cope.

Not only will you lose hours of refreshing sleep on a red-eye, you’ll also have to adjust to the time change at your destination. Before leaving, try to adjust your body clock. When traveling eastbound, wake up earlier and go to bed earlier than you normally would. Do the reverse when heading westbound.

Choose your seat wisely. The seats at the front tend to be the quietest spots on the plane. If you pick a window seat you’ll have something to lean against while you’re trying to sleep. Plus, a window seat means you won’t have a seatmate trying to climb over you to get to the restroom. Just be sure to keep your seatbelt fastened so the flight attendant doesn’t have to wake you up to make sure you’re safely buckled up.

Pack your carry-on bag with items that will help you get some shut-eye, like earplugs or noise-canceling headphones, a neck pillow, and comfortable socks. Even if the cabin lights are turned down, an eye mask can help by blocking out light from a row mate’s video screen. Remember that planes tend to be cold, so bring a jacket. If you have room in your carry-on bag, toss in a small blanket in case you don’t get one on the plane, or to avoid paying for one if the airline charges a fee.

Try to eat a healthy meal before you board. Avoid spicy foods that can cause an upset stomach or meals that are overly processed and salty that may make you feel bloated or dehydrated during the flight. It’s a good idea to avoid alcohol and caffeine before and during the flight, too. The pressurized airplane cabin will usually leave you a little dehydrated, so buy a large bottle of water at the gate and try to sip it throughout your flight. Eye drops and lip balm can help your face from drying out.

Dressing for comfort is important, too. Soft cotton pants and a sweater are a better choice than business attire that will look rumpled after hours of sitting during a long flight. When you arrive, you can put on a clean dress shirt and head to your meeting. Be sure to have a toiletry bag readily at hand with all of the items you use to get ready in the morning, like a toothbrush, mouthwash, deodorant, and a hairbrush. You’ll feel better and more prepared to start your day after you freshen up.

After freshening up, try to eat a protein-rich breakfast and go light on the carbs and sugar. If possible, take a brisk walk to get the blood flowing and reset your body clock before you head to your first meeting.

For help planning a business trip, contact your travel agent.