Travel aids that could help you sleep on a plane

Whether on a long-haul or short hop, here are 10 accessories that could be worth checking out for adults and children

Sleep is often the difference between a good flight and a bad one, but there are accessories designed to help. Photo: Flyaway Designs
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Getting quality sleep on a plane when not in a fully reclining seat can be tricky. Neck and back pain, cramped legs and having nothing to lean your head against can all result in getting no shut-eye.

For children, helping them get comfortable enough to sleep is often the difference between a good flight and a bad one for parents. From travel pillows and footrests to inflatable beds and seat extenders, here are 10 products designed with the intention of helping adults and children get some quality sleep in the air.

Trtl travel pillow

For those who don’t have space for a bulky neck pillow, the Trtl Travel Pillow is a compact and lightweight option. Available in a range of sizes (the Pillow Plus is height adjustable) and colours, it comprises a scarf that wraps around the neck. The manufacturer says the shoulder support is designed to allow the head to rest in a more natural sleeping position. The product claims to alleviate pressure on the neck and spine that can come from sleeping upright.

Dh188 for children, Dh225 for adults; Trtl Travel;

Footrest hammock

Stretching out your legs on a flight can often prove tricky, yet having a comfortable place to rest your feet can be the difference between getting some and no sleep on a flight. A footrest hammock is designed to achieve a more natural sleeping position, allowing you to lengthen your legs and be supported.

Manufacturers suggests that gently swinging your feet in the hammock while awake can relieve back pain and lower chances of leg and ankle swelling. This is an accessory best suited to grown-ups or tall children.

Dh40; Angemay;

Inflatable air pillow

For those who prefer to lean forward when they try to get some sleep, this inflatable air pillow supports the face, neck and shoulders. Inflate the pillow and place on your tray table to sleep at a forward angle.

There’s space for the ribs as you lean into it as well as holes for the arms to rest naturally. Conveniently, the pillow deflates to fit flat in hand luggage.

Dh42; Homarket;

Hood travel pillow

For a more sensory-depriving sleep aide, this travel pillow fits over the head like a hood, and is designed to offer inflatable support on both sides. The manufacturer says built-in memory foam adds structure at the neck to minimise head-bobbing, while front-adjusting Velcro straps let you tighten the hood as necessary. Made from soft fabric, the hood is also designed with the intention of helping to block out light from neighbouring screens.

Dh174; Roamwild;

Bed in a box

Not only does this carry-on piece of luggage let little ones ride and slide through the airport and feature additional space inside for travel essentials, but it also contains a travel bed for toddlers. Comprising a mattress and side panels, the bed uses the mini-suitcase as a base and unpacks to turn a plane seat into a bed aimed at children aged two to seven.

Dh919; Stokke Jetkids Bedbox V2;

Inflatable footrest

This blow-up travel accessory aims to do double duty, as both a footrest for awake-time comfort and as a pillow for sleeping. Designed for adults and children, it is height-adjustable and packs flat to store in hand luggage.

Dh50 for a pack of two; Maliton;

Tray table nap pillow

Little ones can fall asleep in all positions and at all angles, leaving parents worrying where their head might loll next. The Mideer Kids Tabletop Nap Pillow has a non-slip base to sit on the tray table and unfolds to let children lean forward to sleep.

Made from memory foam, the gap for the face is designed to allow for easy breathing and there are four adjustable angles. It is recommended for children aged three and over.

Dh99; Mideer;

Toddler seat extender

Parents will know that most things you give a toddler on a flight end up on the floor, meaning mums and dads spend much of their time squeezing between the gaps in seats to retrieve them. This seat extender is suggested for keeping toys and games off the floor when the child is awake, and also serves as a hammock-style bed for sleeping. It's waterproof and is said to be easy to clean for drink and snack spills.

Dh119; Yangshilei;

Body pillow

Littles ones can quietly drift off sometimes without mum or dad noticing, and this body pillow aims to let them fall asleep in supported comfort. The H-shaped design is said to stop the head from flopping while also supporting the body, preventing children from falling forward. Made from cotton, the pillow is suitable for children aged three and over, as well as adults.

Dh160; Cartbae;

Blow-up bed

The inflatable Flyaway Kids Bed comes in a travel pouch with its own pump. Apparently inflating in 90 seconds, the bed uses the plane seat as its base, with an additional inflatable stand that rests on the ground.

Designed to be waterproof and wipe clean, it can be also used, according to the manufacturer, during awake time to provide more space for toys and snacks. Fitted muslin sheets are also available.

$159; Flyaway Designs;

Check with the airline before you travel to ensure these items are permitted on flights

Updated: March 20, 2024, 7:39 AM