The One Part of Travel I Always Dread and a New Tactic for Managing It

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The One Part of Travel I Always Dread and a New Tactic for Managing It

If you’ve been reading BNOTP over the past year or so, you know I have come down with a severe case of wanderlust. It all started a couple of years ago when I realized I was approaching a milestone birthday and had never traveled outside the U.S. That motivated me to get busy and book a trip to a place I’d always wanted to visit since seeing the movie, Under the Tuscan Sun: Italy.  (Read more about that trip here: Italy. See the real house that inspired the movie here: Bramasole.)

Never known for being the most patient person, I got antsy waiting the five months to departure time and ended up taking a trip to Kenya during the interim. After the trip to Africa, I was officially hooked. Wanderlust had me in its grip and I’ve been smitten ever since.

But there’s one aspect of travel that I’ve learned to positively dread, and that’s trying to sleep on an overnight flight. If you’re ever flown overnight, you know what I’m talking about. It often feels like this, only I’m stuck that way for 8-9 hours, instead of a few minutes. lol (Read more about why I’m hiding under the kitchen sink HERE. Ha!)


Some folks seem to do really well on a few hours sleep. I am not one of them. If I get less than 6-7 hours of sleep, I feel totally miserable, even physically sick. Anyone else like that?

I dearly wish I could afford to fly First Class, or what I think Delta calls Business Class. The idea of actually being able to lie down to sleep on an overnight flight sounds like heaven! But that’s never going to happen unless a miracle occurs because an upgrade to first class costs as much as some of the trips that I’ve taken. When it comes down to it, I’d rather spend those $$$ on another trip than blow them on one night’s sleep in a supine position, tempting as that is!

To aid in my attempts to get as much shut-eye as possible on overnight flights, I purchased this pillow a couple of years ago. I liked it so much that when I accidentally left it on a flight, I immediately purchased a new one once I was back home. It has served me well and I would recommend it to anyone who is facing an overnight flight. The design is such, it will support your head no matter if you’re in an aisle seat, center seat or window seat.


I also like how it clips onto the handle of a suitcase or carry-on bag. This travel pillow is available here: Travel Pillow.


Since I have two overnight flights coming up very soon as I travel to and from Morocco, I decided to see what else is available to help make an overnight flight as comfortable as possible. I came across two products with excellent reviews that I felt were worth purchasing. One is a travel pillow that had me intrigued. It looked as if it would be very easy to keep positioned comfortably. There’s a strap that can hook around the seat back or around the pillow at the top of the seat. Or, you can wear it behind your back.


I also liked how small it becomes for storing away.

I bought it and have been testing it here at home. It only took around 3-4 breaths to blow up. It is very easy to blow up because it’s designed where a little valve automatically closes when you stop blowing. That prevents it from losing any air in between breaths. Guess that’s why it only takes a few puffs to blow it up. It’s just as easy to deflate, a push on the little value and it deflates in seconds.


There are several ways to use it and I’m looking forward to putting it to the test on an upcoming flight. This travel pillow is available here: Travel Pillow.


Travel Blanket

The other item I bought for those long overnight flights is this cozy blanket. I tend to get chilly on an overnight flight and that wimpy little blanket the airline provides doesn’t really cover up very much. Plus it always seems to end up sliding off and onto the floor during a flight. I don’t even want to think about the germs it has on it once that happens.

When my travel pillow arrived, tucked inside was a brochure showing some additional products that one can use for a more comfortable flight experience. Remembering how cold I get during a long flight, another big obstacle in getting a good-nights rest, I decided to order it.

The reviews are very good from those who have used it and I like that it slips on over your head. 


It also folds up to a compact size when it’s time to tuck it away. I have a feeling it will also come in handy the two nights we camp out in the Sahara desert on my upcoming trip. This travel blanket is available here: Travel Blanket.


Pssst: I think I’ve finally found my perfect desk chair! Looking forward to sharing how it looks here in my home office for Metamorphosis Monday! 🙂

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  1. Love the travel ideas. I ordered both as I agree first class is as much as another trip. Cannot wait to receive them! Thanks for the ideas.

    • I know, I just can’t bring myself to spend it when I know it would almost pay for another trip. Would be nice, though! lol

      • I flew on British Airways overnight in one of their sleeper seats (can’t remember now if it was business or first class) and it was not all that it is cracked up to be. Although it was good to stretch out, the bed was not especially comfortable. Also, there are two seats side by side positioned so that one’s head was faces in the same direction as the feet of the person next to one. Unfortunately, the person next to me had a hygiene problem. The blanket they provided was rather flimsy. I tossed and turned all night trying to be comfortable and to avoid taking deep breaths! So, all in all, I did about as well as I would have done in coach.

        • Wow, that’s definitely not the experience you want to have when you’re shelling out the big $ for the better seats. Thanks for letting me know about that Imbi. I did upgrade to Delta’s Comfort Plus which will give me a bit more foot room and the seat will slant back a bit further. It’s the first time I’ve ever done that so I think I’ll be pretty happy with just those improvements. That sounds like really poor design, to put the head of one person near the feet of another. What engineer thought that one up?! Geesh!

  2. Bonnie Chase says

    Love the “poncho” blanket…No slipping and sliding with this. Looks so soft and comfy. Enjoy and be warm.

    • Thanks, Bonnie! I was thinking the same thing, no scrambling to keep it over me. I’m thinking it might even be comfortable to wear at home when curled up reading on a chilly evening.

  3. Cyndi Raines says

    What great finds! Hope they do the trick. One time due to an error made by the airline we were able to fly 1st class from Nevada to Detroit and oh what a difference it does make! We loved it and my husband who is 6’4″ swore this would be the only way we’d fly from then on. However, in the last 10 years we haven’t flown much and you’re right the cost of first class is high, even in the states, so it must be outrageous to go overseas. I know the days are fast approaching for your trip, can’t wait for the pictures. P.S. What did you think about the unsalted butter? 🙂 That’s all we use and enjoy it.

    • Cyndi, I’ve been meaning to let you know, I love it! That’s all I plan to buy from now on. I don’t know why I never thought to try the unsalted butter because I virtually never add salt to anything I cook. Sooo glad that the store was all out of the salted that day I was shopping in preparation of being snowed in. lol

    • Oh, and it is outrageous to fly 1st class over seas! The price to upgrade is insane. I can’t remember the exact price but I’m pretty sure the cost of the flight goes from around $1,000 to well over $3,000! It’s like 3X the price!

  4. Alma Miranda says

    I only flew first class once years ago when they had a super deal. What a difference! Went to Italy and when we got there we went to the room and slept for four hours. I didn’t sleep a wink on the airplane.

    Wanderlust is an awesome thing. Hope you don’t get over it.

  5. Wow, you really went for traveling whole hog! We have been trying to see every state together on road trips. We mark up a large U.S. map with “X’s” and are almost finished. Looking forward to seeing your next trip.

    • That is so cool! What a fun challenge and experience to see them all! I would love to do that, just wish I had started traveling much sooner!

  6. Both items should make for a comfier flight, plus they fold up so small. Perfect. So glad you got the poncho/blanket–such horror stories about those airline-provided ones. Don’t even touch them. Glad to hear your wanderlust is still going strong.

    • It is! One good thing about never having traveled is every place is open as an option. So instead of deciding where I want to go in advance, I mostly just watched for the best deals and make that my destination. Mia, where would you travel next if you were planning a trip?

      • Anne Langan says

        You will love Morroco! And I especially liked Fez…and the overnight in the desert…I loved the colors, the designs…the tiles….just remember to even brush your teeth with bottled water.

  7. Cyndi Raines says

    Susan, I was just looking at the latest Pottery Barn magazine and saw the potting / entertainment table and in this year’s version they added a hutch to the back of the table. Since you already have a hutch, I’m sure you’ll leave your pretty table as is, but I immediately thought of you and your great job you did building your table. I showed hubby and so we read through all of your steps in building your table. Before retiring, my husband was a licensed builder and built our house. Ron was VERY impressed with your workmanship. He said yours was made better and looked great, the other was cheaper looking. We noticed you did a better job on the legs with the jig saw part going around the bottom of the legs, giving it a more finished look, whereas their bottom shelf has ended just inside the legs or at a 1/2 part on the legs and it doesn’t look as finished. Also loved the savings! You go Girl!! But I have a question, how have you managed to get it up on your deck as it must be extremely heavy. Thanks for all of the exact information, I may just have to have him build me one! haha

    • Thanks so much, Cyndi and please tell your hubby that means so much coming from a real builder! 🙂 I have to admit, during that project, I wondered a time or two what I had gotten myself into! lol
      Well, when I first built that table, I wanted to put it up on the deck, but at the time the deck needed cleaning and stained. My plan was to ask the guys who pressured washed the deck if they would move it up the deck stairs to the deck for me. But by the time they were here, I had changed my mind and decided to use it down below underneath the porch, just outside the basement doors. (It’s also more protected that way, although I did put several coats of marine varnish on it.) That way I can store potting stuff in the basement and do the potting outside on the potting table. I also like the idea of being able to move it inside into the basement when I need an extra surface for building/making other things, too. I bet you’re hubby could build one in a weekend. It took me a lot longer since I had no idea what I was doing. It took me a while to just figure out how to properly adjust the tension on the drill! lol

  8. Susan, if you are flying Delta have you looked into their Comfort Plus seating? Last Oct when I went to Italy I purchased Comfort Plus seating and felt it was worth the money. It was about $100.00 to upgrade. You get a larger seat, dedicated overhead bin space and complementary beverages. You also board the plane after 1st class and before economy class. I know you will enjoy your trip and I’ll be checking Instagram for your photos. Vikki in VA

    • If it’s only $100, that would definitely be worth it for that leg room and the other benefits. I should check further into that. I have a little over 78,000 miles with them and will have around another 8,000 after this trip, I think…but I’ve been hoarding them to use for an overseas flight one day…or maybe some flights to see grandchildren. I will definitely check on that, thanks for mentioning it, Vikki!

    • Vikki, I just upgraded to Delta Comfort for the two over night flights. Like you said, it was only $99 for each, so I decided to try it. The extra leg room didn’t sound that enticing but the seat that reclines a bit further back definitely did. Thanks for mentioning that. I wasn’t sure it would be worth it so had never really considered it, but I’m going to give it a try for this trip.

      • In an attempt to sleep on overnight flights, I bring noise cancelling headphones, an eye mask and last but not least…… a mild sleeping pill. It doesn’t leave me drowsy and relaxes me enough to get a little sleep. I don’t take sleeping pills any other time, but when I mentioned to my Dr. that I couldn’t sleep on the plane he offered to prescribe a couple of pills.

  9. Margaret Robinson says

    So glad you’ve got the “wanderlust”. Traveling to other places is just a wonderful way to get to know people and see where they live and enjoy themselves.

    A question about all the things you’ve gotten to help you sleep whilst on a plane and they all look interesting. How to the people on either side you feel when you have to re-arrange things. Putting on a blanket like the one that looks rather like a poncho or the comfortable looking, but large pillow must take some effort on your part.

    Enjoy your travels and you might try “business” when flying. It’s what we do and though you don’t get a bed, it is vastly more comfortable for some of the longer flights.

    • Well, this will be the first time I’ll be wearing the blanket, but in the past when I’ve had to put on or remove a sweater, I’ve never had any problems. I always booked a window seat and so far have always had one on the overnight flights, so there’s only one person who will be sitting next to me. I’m pretty small (only around 5’3 to 5’4″) so I don’t take up too much space. lol Also, normally after dinner, most folks take a bathroom break and often again before going to sleep, so that would be a good time to put it on, as well, when the person next to me is in the bathroom.

      • Margaret Robinson says

        Brilliant on the idea about doing it when people go on “bathroom breaks”. Even in Business class it sometimes difficult to do certain things, but love the ideas and shall make a note of them! Thanks – MMR

  10. I know what you mean. Last spring we flew to England and after a week in the Cotswalds we flew to Sweden to pick up my new SUV…Volvo paid our air fair and I suggested we upgrade for the overnight flight, which hubby did not want to do. A night flight, we were lucky to share a 3 person seat, yet was still awful. Coming back was hell. Daytime flight, first to Heathrow, flight delayed and longer flight coming back with 3 in a small row. I have now told hubby if there is not an upgrade I will no longer go on longer flights, he finally agrees. And hope to avoid Heathrow There have been other equally distasteful long flights…I’m too old for this! The rest of the trip was so nice. Ha Ha, cute photo under the sink and that is exactly the feeling!

  11. My sister and I are taking a Viking River through France in April. We are so excited but dreading that long flight also. We leave Atlanta at 3pm, arrive Paris at midnight…which is 6 am there. My doctor (who is a travel bug) told me to take an Ambien as soon as we get on the plane, then stay up until bedtime in France. We plan to hit the ground running as soon as we arrive! Can’t wait to hear about your Morroco trip! My husband and his family were stationed there for several years when he was a teenager. 50 years later, the entire family still talks about what an awesome place it is. My 92 yo mother-in-law still owns all the beautiful handmade rugs and brass she acquired there.

    • I second the idea of taking an Ambien. Also, I usually put leggings on underneath travel slacks (or wear leggings) with a comfortable top and remove the slacks before falling asleep. In addition to a merino wool throw for a blanket I also use a sleepmas, compression socks, and travel slippers. Ear plugs or noise canceling head phones cut down on the sound. Thus outfitted, I have managed to get several hours of decent rest on overnight flights.

  12. Sandra D, Joliet says

    Well I love the photo of the kitchen. I would love to have an old sink like that. I really love the sink in Stir of Echoes (starring Kevin Bacon) but could never find a photo of it. It’s very unusual.

  13. I always have a hard time sleeping on planes – mainly because I am a nervous flyer. I worry basically the whole time I am up there! I like your travel pillow idea, though. I am all for anything that makes the flight more comfortable!

  14. Look forward to hearing how that Travel pillow works out. I purchased oa travel pillow of memory foam at a Sharper Image store years ago that is shaped almost like a flat tube but somewhat flat on one side……I take it everywhere I travel… or abroad. There is something about sleeping on a familiar pillow that makes my sleep better wherever I go. Love that blanket, I only wish it had a pocket for the feet as my feet are always cold on international flights, even with socks……I made my own out of a fleece fabric and roll it into it’s own small duffel bag. I do like the poncho style of yours….hhhmmm….maybe I’ll make a new one with a foot pocket too! Plan to follow you to Morocco on Instagram!

  15. I have a few photos from a trip my son took to morocco that I’d like to send to you. What email address should I use?

  16. You are a resourceful chick! Glad you found things to help you rest!

    Lucky you to get to travel!

  17. Kathy, I’d love to see them. You can send them to [email protected] Thanks!

  18. Wow great travel ideas you have shared with us…
    I suffer from the same issue as you, i need lots of sleep if not i really start to feel sick….


  19. Since getting anywhere from Australia (apart from New Zealand) starts with at least a 7 hour trip and then another 13+ to Europe or at best a 15 hour flight to the US we now only fly Business class. Both my husband and I have bad backs and flying is difficult. Flying economy means barely being able to walk when we get off the plane. We prefer the flat bed seats so we can enjoy the destination when we arrive. We would rather travel less and in some comfort than in pain.

  20. We considered upgrade to economy plus once. But even that cost an extra $1000 round trip. So I decided to spend the extra $1000 on a Louis Vuitton and as I was suffering wide awake in coach, I just had to remind myself.. only 10 hrs, only 8 hrs, etc. and now I have a purse. I flew once in first class for free via mileage points and it wasn’t worth the thousands of extra dollars, to be honest. Can’t wait To hear about your trip!

  21. Susan, we have been to Europe, Africa, and Asia many times and the overnight flights are very hard on the body. I can sometimes sleep, but not for very long. I like the pull-over blanket you bought, I usually get very cold on flights. We ended up in first class on a flight to Israel, because something started leaking on us that they could not explain, and the only available seats were first class. I have to say it was wonderful to be able to lie down, but not for the prices that they charge. I can’t wait to hear about Morocco, it sounds so exotic!

  22. It’s “Lunesta” for me (my doctor was not an advocate for Ambien) but use only on over night flights….and overnight on the train. Oh, Morocco!! Hopefully…someday…franki

  23. Antoinette says

    Hi Susan, like you, I also love to travel and I have taken several overnight flights to Europe on coach and unfortunately I stay awake the whole time since I can’t get comfortable and I have never taken a sleeping pill but maybe next time I’ll try a mild one. I like the idea of taking your own pillow, but I was wondering, is it machine washable? They don’t clean planes too well (if at all) and by the time I leave the plane I’m ready to take a shower and wash my hair! By the way, I have been to Cortona (I stayed at a lovely agrutirismo for a week outside the walls of the city in the countryside, but close enough where we could see Cortona up on the hill while having breakfast on the patio) and have driven by Frances Mayes’ House and in person it looks even more amazing! The setting is spectacular since it’s located on the side of a hill with fantastic views and the home’s warm colors change with the sun! I speak Italian since I was born in Italy, so that helps when I travel there. I can’t wait to go back!

    • Yup, I bought the version that has a washable cover, so the blue part is just a cover that comes off to be washed. When I went to Italy, a group of us really wanted to see Frances Mayes home so our guide called a taxi for us and he took us up the hill to the house. I found out later while I was at her home taking photos outside, she was right here in Atlanta doing a book signing. lol I hate that I missed her book signing but thought that was so funny that I was at her home when she was 30 minutes from mine. 🙂 So glad you were able to see it, the view is gorgeous! You can see my post/pictures in this post:
      Here’s one more post I wrote about Cortona and a little of the shopping I did there:
      I would love to go back and spend more time there.That’s wonderful that you were in that area for a whole week! I had 16 days in Italy but we were visiting a new town almost every day, although we only stayed in three hotels during that whole trip…so that wasn’t too bad.

  24. I used the Travelrest pillow on a Delta ‘comfort seat’ flight to Europe last fall and cannot recommend it. It was not a good fit for me. I am 5’4″. It was like wrestling with a pool toy. It was just in the way and I finally gave up. I foolishly carried it all over Europe thinking I’d try it again on the way home… should have left it in a hotel somewhere.

  25. Antoinette says

    Susan, that’s so good to know that I can actually take off the cover from the pillow and wash it! That makes a big difference to me. I’ll have to buy one. I read what you said about Frances Mayes and when I was there, she also happened to be in this country promoting her latest cookbook (which I have), but I knew this even before going there. And when I was in Cortona, since at first I could not find her house, I ended up asking I don’t know how many locals how to get there before I actually found it! My husband drove our rental car and when we found it, I told him to pull over so I could get out and take photos (in which I did). And I noticed while I was there that there was a guy there doing gardening work, but he was probably used to seeing tourists take pictures of the house! Also, the fountain that they show in the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun” does not really exist in the piazza, they put one there just for the movie and they took it down when finished shooting. There’s a good ice cream place there called “La Dolce Vita”, check it out if you ever go back there, it’s located on a side street right off the piazza!

  26. I always love your travel posts, Susan! I hope your post-Morocco blog describes how the pillow and blanket worked for you. I have an overnight trip in premium economy coming up this fall, so this is a helpful post for me!


  27. Thought of you and your trip today…Kate Spade has new items in a camel theme—passport holder, watch, phone cover etc 🙂

  28. Susan, you are right, long flights are a killer. Almost makes me want to give up traveling! Almost……but nah! I bought the cross body pillow for my trip from D.C. to Barcelona, via Turkey. ( The price you have to pay for using Turkish Airlines. 14 hours. ) Anyway, I went prepared this time…… comfy socks, sleep mask with lavender sprayed on it, travel blanket, 2 1/2 mg of Ambien (doesn’t take much for me), and that pillow. It worked better than anything I have ever used. Not as good as lying down, but I slept about 5-6 hours!! That NEVER happens.

  29. Carolyn Anderson says

    Hi, Susan! My husband and I just got back from Antarctica and once again my three legged sleep pillow made the trip with us. It is my lifesaver when we are faced with overnighters! I’d like to suggest putting Antarctica on your bucket list! You can fly right from Atlanta (8 1/2 hours) to Santiago, Chile, then a short flight (3 hours) to Punta Arenas where you board your ship. Most tours have you stay overnight in Santiago before flying down to Punta Arenas. Travel to Antarctica is done November through March. Happy Holidays!

  30. The whole “sleeping on a plane” thing has always been one of the big reasons I’m leery about doing an overnight flight. I mean I guess even if I couldn’t sleep at all I’d still technically survive, but it sounds like such a potentially terrible experience.

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