5 Top Blackout Sleep Masks for Travel (2024 Review)

Last Updated on July 10, 2024 by Christine Kaaloa

manta sleep mask review, Nidra Deep Rest Eye Mask review, mzoo sleep mask review, top sleep mask reviewRed-eye, long flights, changing time zones and strange new environments can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule. It can leave you with jetlag and feeling groggy through the first days of your vacation.

Welp, I  just bought my second blackout sleep mask! Sleep masks are a game-changer in improving your quality of sleep at home or on the road.

In this blog post, I’ll be diving into the world of sleep masks, comparing the 6 top blackout sleep masks for travel. I’ve chosen these sleep masks for their light-blocking ability, breathability, and traveler satisfaction – all crucial factors for a restful night’s sleep on the road.

manta sleep mask honest review, sleeping in airports
manta sleep mask sleeping in airports


This post contains affiliate links. I never leave home without travel insurance- I use World Nomads but here’s a trip insurance finder tool  to find a plan that matches your budget. Read more about coverage options for U.S. travelers.

The Importance of Quality Sleep for Travel

Before diving into the nitty-gritty of sleep masks, let’s explore the benefits of quality sleep when you’re traveling over different time zones:

When crossing time zones, your body’s Cicadian rhythm gets wacky and this can cause fatigue and brain fogginess as your body grasps to regain its day-sleep cues. Basically, you experience jetlag.

When I was young, I didn’t think much about sleep because I was able to rebound after all-nighters and intense physical activity.

But getting older and crossing 50 changed that. Sleep is important to my body’s ability to recover from jetlag and fatigue. If I am on my feet catching public transportation for sightseeing or running around lugging my camera equipment, this activity is wear and tear on my body. If i’m not well-rested, I can feel haggard, moody low energy. I might force my body to keep going, until I experience pain.

Next, if you’re like me- battling bodily pain and limitations, such as plantar fasciitis, lower back and neck problems or 50’s fatigue, it can upset the quality of your female solo trip. There’s more things to consider than just a sightseeing itinerary like avoiding injury, droopy energy levels, and any careless movement or stupid decision that triggers the onslaught of pain.

The benefits of quality sleep when traveling :

The following are some ideas mentioned by the Sleep Foundation.

  • Physical Health: The number one reason for improving your quality of sleep is that it strengthens your body’s ability to fight illness and repair itself. After a long day of exploring on your feet, your body needs to recover and repair; a solid 8 hours of sleep allows that to happen.
  • Mental Health & Agility: Sleep also impacts mood, regulates emotions, and improves cognitive function. I won’t go into how being a full-time content creator, woman in her 50s or woman on her period is prone to mood swings, but they can feel like a b***h!  When I don’t have sleep, I am raw, haggard, snapping at people and hanging on a hair. Not to mention, my skin looks shot and dull.
  • Jetlag Recovery: Blackout sleep masks help you get better sleep on planes, during long layovers at airports and when you’re crossing time zones. It can help reset your body clock, because it fools your body into thinking it is night.
  • Memory: During sleep, your brain consolidates and organizes memories and information learned throughout the day.
  • Alertness: Quality sleep keeps you feeling energized, focused and alert throughout the day. As a solo traveler, you want to be street smart safe, alert to your surroundings and you cannot do that in a mental fog.
  • Weight Management: Sleep helps regulate hormones that control appetite and metabolism.
  • Safety and Alertness: Poor sleep quality can impair your judgment and reaction time, increasing risk of accidents and injury. Renting a motorbike in Bali, taking a scuba certification in Thailand, avoid pickpocketing… you can make wiser decisions because you’ll have better mental judgement. Incidentally, travel insurance is always a safety net you want to back yourself up when those accidents happen.
    Tip: Check out this free trip insurance finder tool 
  • Boosted Energy Levels: Catching a good night of sleep translates to waking up feeling refreshed and energized, ready to tackle your travel itinerary.

What to look for in an effective sleep mask for travel?

Blackout Effectiveness: Blocking out light helps regulate your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, promoting deeper, more restorative sleep. There are masks which act like a light blanket over the eyes, offering very little blackout, so when the sun is out, you’ll still notice it. But when you get to good masks, the blackout between something that’s 80% vs 99% is huge.

Head strap fit: A firm elastic head strap that holds the mask in place as you toss around. For side sleepers, having a strap that does not have a clasp on the side is ideal.

Comfortable eye protection: Flat masks lay Masks with a recessed eye cups are the best because they do not put pressure on the eyelids.

Portability: Most sleep masks are lightweight and compact, making them a no-brainer in-flight tool in your travel carry on or tote.

Comfortable fabric : Sleep masks are made of natural fibers, but there’s a difference between silk, felt or something synthetic with foam cups.

Washable: Machine washable or by hand

Overall comfort and ergonomic design: Eye and nose comfort, snug elastic band to keep your mask secure if you wrestle in your sleep. Some folks like to sleep on their stomach or side.

5 Top Blackout Sleep Masks for Travel

Premium sleep masks

1. Manta Sleep Mask

Manta Sleep Mask was my first love that turned me onto sleep masks because it executed what a sleep mask is meant to do..  block out light and allow you a sound sleep. Fabric is natural fibers and moisture wicking which makes it snug and comfy, and it has removable eye cups that you can replace. Open nose area, the mask just its over the eye cups. Strap is adjustable and fits snug without moving.

  It’s good but if I had a hairy cat, I’d wonder if it would pick up hairs.  It makes a line of blackout masks from cooling sleep masks to reduce puffy eyes and sinus relief  to steam masks for dry eye relief.

I still prefer the original sleep mask; it is perfect for travel and comes with a storage bag for portability and washing. Con: Price-wise, it’s a bit high for a sleep mask. But it is worth it. I bought this for my sister! Get it on Amazon

honest manta sleep mask review, best blackout sleep masks for travel,
manta sleep mask,


manta cooling sleep mask review
manta cooling blackout sleep mask


2. Nidra Deep Rest Eye Mask

The Nidra Deep Rest Eye Mask is a premium sleep mask with high ratings on Amazon. It has 3D eye cups that is comfortable for those with lash extensions and a easy-fit nose piece. The Nidra mask has mixed opinions on strap and stability but it comes in different colors.  Rated the best sleep mask on The NY Times.

Con: It kinda looks like a bra cup on your eyes, so while a lot of travelers love its performance, i’m not sure if I would personally wear it on the plane in public.  But that’s me- he he… Get it on Amazon

nidra sleep mask review for travel, top sleep masks for travel

3. MZOO Sleep Eye Mask

The MZOO Sleep Eye Mask is another great sleep mask with very high ratings on Amazon. It’s been sold on Amazon since 2019 for its 3D blackout sleep masks.  It is held together by a heat bonding technology vs stitches that can fall apart and touts 100% blackout. It has rebounding memory foam eye cups with a cutout nose piece and it comes with a travel pouch.  Con: Hand wash only. Still a bit pricey and looks like the budget models. Get it on Amazon

mzoo sleep mask review for travel
mzoo sleep mask for travel

Best Value Sleep Masks for Travel:

4. SmartRest Sleep Mask (2-Pack)

SmartRest Sleep Mask is one of my picks for best value blackout sleep mask for travel. It really surprised me. I actually bought it because my dad wears those free airlines sleep masks a lot and sleeps during the day. I wanted an inexpensive mask because getting him an expensive mask could go to waste if he decides he doesn’t like it. This one came with two sleep masks. Rebounding memory foam. Cut-out nose piece. When I tried it, it really surprised me.

At first, I wasn’t sure I’d like the Smart Rest mask because the fabric is more on the silky smooth side and the Manta was more on the fiberous side that felt homey and warm. The blackout is 100%. I forgot to put my alarm on and if my body didn’t have a natural alarm to get up at 7a-9a, I wouldn’t have known the difference behind my eyes, because under my mask it felt like night time. It was surreal to think the blackout effectiveness fooled my mind so completely. My eyes literally did not want to wake up. My sleep felt slightly deeper with this mask

 After two weeks, I noticed a tiny gap where light peers in by my nose, making it 98% blackout. I’ve pressed it but tying my head strap tighter pressed it back into place. The verdict is still out but I’ll just say- if I lost this while traveling, I’d be out $5 but so far I’ve squeezed out four good weeks of sleep from it.  Great value: 2 for the cost of $10. Con: my sleep felt so good, I did not want to wake up. Get it on Amazon

smart rest blackout sleep mask 2 pack
smart rest sleep mask review, best blackout sleep masks honest review

5. LKY DIGITAL Sleep Mask ( 3 Pack )

If you said Hello to the SmartRest mask, then you might like this one even more, because it comes in a pack of three so it’s definitely the highest value mask out there at the moment. You can pass it out to family members and friends.

Since 2013, the LKY Digital Sleep mask  is one of the highest bought and rated on Amazon. I have not tried it. They look like bra cups to me. This 3D ergonomic eye mask is high rated for its blackout performance and comfort, with foam cups and cotton fiber. It works great for all sleep positions and it has ergonomic fitting on the nose and 3D eye cups to keep your makeup from smudging.

Colors come in black, blue and purple, so there’s a variety.  Con: Hand wash only. Get it on Amazon

LKY DIGITAL Sleep Mask review, best sleep masks under $20
LKY DIGITAL Sleep Mask best travel sleep mask

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