The Consummate Traveler: The Benefits of Overnight Flights

November 13, 2014 Updated: June 6, 2019

If I had to plan my ideal voyage, it would certainly include an overnight flight. This is mostly due to the fact that flying after 10 p.m. allows me to keep my natural schedule, making it a more manageable experience overall. Last week I took a 10-hour overnight flight from Sao Paulo to Chicago, which left Brazil at 11 p.m. The trip was great and I arrived home more refreshed than I typically do. To give you an idea of its advantages, below are my top three benefits for traveling overnight.

1. The Late Hotel Check-Out: One of the perks of having a late-night flight is that you can enjoy a relaxing morning and afternoon in your departure city. Since hotel check-out times are usually 11a.m. or noon, make sure to reserve a late check out the first day you arrive. I did not do this on my last trip and had to share a room with a colleague. A car-racing event was coming to town that weekend and the hotel was sold out, so always plan in advance. Hotels typically grant a two- or three-hour extension for free. However, if you are staying well into the early evening, they may charge you half a day’s rate. This is usually well worth the expense, as it allows you to shower right before leaving for the airport and lets you address any last minute packing at your leisure.

2. Eating Dinner at Your Normal Time: I find that eating dinner at my preferred hour, which is 6 p.m., is an important benefit to flying on an overnight trip. This keeps my energy levels up and gives me plenty of time to walk around the airport to help digest a heavy meal. By the time I am in my seat I am ready to settle in for the night. I typically reject the midnight airplane dinner and opt to wait until breakfast to eat again. Trying to sit in a cramped space for hours after consuming a heavy meal can be a bit difficult for many, so eat light if you must have something.

3. Fall Asleep Naturally: As a passenger who does not easily fall asleep on planes (and refuses to take sleeping pills), overnight flights allow me to naturally get the rest I need. On my last trip I must have dozed off for at least a few hours, which is a record for me. The key is not to indulge in too much caffeine, alcohol, or sugar prior to getting on board. If you are a nervous flyer, I highly recommend using this approach. This is also a great time to fly with children, as they are more likely to stay asleep for a larger portion of the flight, which the entire airplane will appreciate.

As always, I wish you all the happiest of travels!