We all know that long haul flights can really take a lot out of you. From sitting for long periods of time and being cramped in a small space, it is an uncomfortable experience for many.
I know from experience that you can improve your experience on long haul flights by packing the right items in your personal item carry-on.
In this post I’ll cover the long haul flight essentials and tips that you need for the best flight experience possible. Note, these tips are for those of us who suck it up in economy ;).
Long Haul Flight Essentials | What to Pack
Flight Comfort / Sleep Essentials
Perhaps most important for a tolerable long-haul flight is keeping comfy while in the air. Here are a few of my must-have essentials for comfort:
1 | Eye Mask – Drown out the sun and the reading lamps of your seat-mates (they are so bright, right?!) with a nice face mask.
2 | Earplugs – Keep noisy babies and overhead announcements muffled while you try to relax.
3 | Neck Pillow – This is what I think is the most important, as a good neck pillow can save you from so much pain after you land.
You can get all three of these essentials together in this set by Everlasting Comfort. And as an added bonus, the included plush, velour pillow has a pocket to store your headphones, earplugs, and whatever else you’d like to keep close.
4 | Scarf – I never take any flight without a scarf, as I have experienced a few long-haul flights where economy passengers were not given blankets (trifling, I know). I recommend taking a traveling scarf, that is made just for this purpose!
5 | Essential Oil(s) – The right essential oil, such as lavender or eucalyptus oil, can help calm any anxiety that you have about flying. Additionally, it will help you deal with unpleasant smells that you may encounter from others on the flight.
If you prefer not to put it on your skin, you can use adiffuser necklace to keep the scent close.
6 | Phone – This may be a bit obvious, but your phone is a great resource for entertainment such as playing games, listening to music, or reading. Be sure to download any entertainment that you can’t access without internet before you take off!
7 | Tablet – This may not be an absolute necessary, but it is much easier to read / watch things during the flight. A tablet is also a great tool for downloading videos that you may care to watch during the flight, from sites like Netflix. I tend to travel with my iPad, but the Amazon Fire 8 Tablet is a great (and cheap!) alternative.
Also, to get more out of your tablet, you can add a keyboard (like this one) and essentially use it as a laptop.
8 | Headphones – I recommend bringing your own personal headphones on the flight. They’ll be better quality, and you can guarantee that they have not been used by anyone else before ;).
If you’re looking for an upgrade, the Beats Studio3 headphones are the way to go.
If you are using iPhone headphones that don’t have the standard jack, order a pair of the good old 3.5mm style before you go!
9 | Chargers – Don’t forget your chargers! These days most long-haul flights do have outlets for you to charge your stuff, so it’s a good idea to have these within close reach as well.
10 | Portable Powerbank – Just in case there is not a outlet on the plane, I always take one of these with me. It will come in handy throughout your trip too.
11 | Electronic Cable Organizer – Now this may seem a bit odd to include on this list, but it is a lifesaver, believe me! When used properly, you will never misplace a single cord again. I use the one pictured below by BAGSMART.
Self-Care | Face, Mouth, & Body
Let’s be honest, one of the worst things about flying is the fact that you have to go way longer than usual without bathing – possibly upwards of 2 days! So I like to bring along a few essentials to help keep fresh during and after the flight:
12 | Body Wipes – Bring wet wipes or baby wipes to keep yourself smelling fresh when you can’t quickly get to a shower.
13 | Face Wash/ Lotion– Bring your favorite face wash and lotion. It’s a good idea to reapply as you fly to keep your skin moist; plane air can be quite drying. Don’t forget to bring it in a travel-size container!
14 | Deodorant – For the sake of everyone on the plane, please keep your pits fresh!
15 | Sunscreen – I like to bring a light sunscreen to keep my face protected, especially when traveling during the summer months.
16 | Makeup – Bring your makeup basics with you – I recommend keeping it light, unless you are attending a formal event while traveling.
17 | Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Floss – Bring along your standard dental hygiene items to keep your breath fresh on the flight :).
Keeping up your health when traveling is important, and there is nothing worse than getting sick while on the plane. Just to be prepared, you should keep the following with you at all times:
18 | Prescription Medications – Keep these on your person (NEVER check them!), and keep a reminder if you have to take them at the same time every day.
19 | Melatonin – Melatonin is a great supplement to help you sleep better – very helpful if you have trouble sleeping on planes.
20 | Pain Reliever – Useful in the event that you have a headache or any other body ache during your travels. I prefer Aleve, but Tylenol or Advil are also great options.
21 | Stomach / Digestive Medicines – Travel tummy is a real thing guys! The food in some places may impact you worse than in others, so I recommend taking meds such as Pepto Bismol tablets, Imodium, and Charcoal tablets in the event of emergency or discomfort.
22 | Band-Aides – Bring these along in case of cuts / scrapes.
23 | Compression Socks – These socks keep the blood circulating as it should, instead of pooling at your feet. They are also good for the prevention of swollen ankles and blood clots – I can testify to the former!
24 | 1-2 Extra Outfits – I like to bring these along, just in case of lost luggage. You never know what might happen! Also, it never hurts to have a few fresh undies in tow.
25 | Travel Journal – If you like to journal, bring it along! This is another way to keep yourself occupied during your time in the air.
Packing the Essentials in Your Carry-On
Choosing the Right Bag
I believe strongly in light packing, and that you should take all of your stuff onboard with you when you travel. At the very least, you need to take all of your long haul essentials on the flight with you, and preferably keep them under the seat in front of you.
I pack the Tortuga Setout Laptop Bag when I travel. It is the perfect personal item bag, and has plenty of space for you to pack everything on the essentials list and more! One of the best things about this bag is that it is full of different compartments so you can keep everything organized. For detailed information on this bag, check out my review of the Tortuga Setout Laptop Bag.
Additional Packing Tips:
- Pack all of your liquids together in a clear container. Countries vary in how strict they are when going through security with liquids, but it’s best to make sure they meet approved limits before you leave. This TSA-approved pouch is a great option to use, if you do not already have something like it.
- Keep like items separated for easy organization. I like to keep my makeup products in one pouch and my hair accessories in another, for example.
The Best Clothes for a Long Haul Flight
Your ultimate goal for packing for a long haul flight is COMFORT. Wearing tight or restricting clothes will really just make you miserable if being cute is the only thing you are aiming for. I tend to wear a similar uniform on every long flight, and it’s one that will work for pretty much everyone:
- Light Shirt – Wear a light T-shirt that you can layer up or down, depending on the temperature inside the plane. I like to wear something from the H&M basic collection myself.
- Comfy Pants – Don’t wear jeans! It may be tempting to wear your bulkiest clothing, but stretchy and/or loose pants will be your best bet. I like wearing cute baggy pants like these Harem Pants or a good pair of leggings.
- Sweater– Always bring a sweater or sweatshirt along to keep yourself warm while flying.
- Comfy Shoes – Bring shoes that you have already broken in that you can walk around in the airport / deal with transfers without experiencing foot pain.
Long Haul Flight Tips and Tricks
There are a few things that you can do in the airport and while you’re on the plane that will make your travel experience go much more smoothly overall:
At the Airport
- Make the most of your time in the airport by using the FLIO app (iPhone | Android) to know what food and amenities to find in each airport. This app also provides flight arrival / departure information, weather, transportation, and more!
- Another option to consider is using an airport lounge in between flights. For a (usually) reasonable fee, you’ll have access to food and showers while you wait for the next leg of your trip. You can book lounges through the FLIO app. Additionally, if you get the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll have access to Priority Pass, giving you free accesses to lounges around the glove. Read more about the Chase Sapphire Reserve here.
- Some airports offer one-off amenities that can help you too. For example, I’ve found standalone showers in the Frankfurt airport and beds for rent by the hour in the Beijing airport. Research the airport in advance (using FLIO!) so that you can know what to expect before you land and plan appropriately.
On the Plane
- Stay Hydrated: Drink lots of water while you’re on the plane to keep from dehydrating on the plane.
- Get Up and Move: Don’t just sit for hours on end while you’re on the flight. Remember how I mentioned keeping your circulation going above? Well compression socks aren’t the only way to help that – walking is actually the best remedy to prevent complications from poor circulation.
- Adjust Your Sleep Cycle: If you haven’t already done so before getting to the airport, use your time on the plane to try to adjust to the new time zone. Set your watch ahead (or behind), and try to sleep (or not sleep) based on the time where you are headed.
Long Haul Flight Essentials | Final Tips
And that wraps my list of long haul flight essentials + tips! Do you have any other essentials that you like to carry on long haul flights? If so, drop them in the comments below!
- The Best International Travel Accessories
- Away Luggage Review [The Bigger Carry-On]
- The Tortuga Setout Laptop Backpack Review
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