We all know that long haul, international 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 time for many. I know from experience that you can improve your comfort 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, for the purposes of this post, long haul is defined as anything over a 4 hour flight. These tips are for those of us who are “suffering” in economy, but should be helpful even if you are flying first class or business class.
Your Body on Long Haul Flight
Long haul and overnight flights do have a significant impact on your body. Just to name a few of the things your body may go through on such a flight:
- Poor circulation and blood pooling in your feet due to being cramped in a small place for a long period of time
- You may be more gassy due to lessened pressure on the outside of your body
- Dehydration due to the dry air being pulled in from outside having very little humidity
- Dry skin due to dehydration
- Out of whack circadian rhythm due to flying across many time zones
This post will cover all the long flight essentials that you need to pack with you to take on the plane so that you can combat these symptoms in the best way possible, and have a comfortable flight. Also, if you are looking for what to pack in your main suitcase for your international trip, check out this post.
The Best Carry On Essentials for Long Haul Flights
I never take any long flight without packing the three items below!
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. In addition to blocking out unpleasant sounds, get a pair that helps with air pressure relief as well.
- »REDUCE PRESSURE: Feeling your ears pop on a flight or when driving through changing elevation can be so uncomfortable!...
- »COMFORT: These silicone ear plugs will help reduce pressure during flights and car rides for a more enjoyable trip!...
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. It is made with memory foam, so you know that it will be very comfortable. And one pro tip here, you may benefit from putting it behind your back rather than around your neck too.
- No Longer Struggle with Uncomfortable Airline Seats: Made with premium memory foam, our neck pillow adapts to your...
- Instant Neck Pain Relief: Sleeping upright in your seat can lead to neck stiffness. With our airplane neck pillow, you...
4 | Tray Table Pillow – If the neck pillow is not comfortable for you, try out an inflatable pillow that you can fold your face in arms into. Definitely a different experience than the standard neck pillow, but may work better for some folks.
- 🛩️Humanized Design: This neck pillow is designed with an ergonomic 45° angle, allowing your head and neck to lean...
- 🛩️Comfortable and Durable: The airplane pillow is made of strong, washable and soft PVC flocking, no...
5 | Travel 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 (ridiculous, I know). I recommend taking a traveling scarf, that is made just for this purpose!
- Luxurious Shawl Wraps for Women: Experience the luxe touch of our Wayfarer Travel Wrap, 68" x 35", two times softer than...
- One Great Fabric - Two Great Feels - We offer two distinct versions of our super soft Tencel fabric 1) Our Classic...
6 | 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 a diffuser necklace to keep the scent close.
- Polished Hollow Cage Pendant: This is a upgrade teardrop lava stone necklace diffuser, made of premium stainless steel,...
- Excellent Aromatherapy Experience: Drop your favorite essential oil into lava stone to enjoy the essential oil aroma....
7 | Life Straw Water Bottle – This is the bottle that I personally take with me every time I travel. I like to bring it because it makes any type of water safe to drink by draining out the bacteria. It is not a small bottle, but is easy enough to carry around with the clip that comes with it. Be sure to come to the airport with the bottle empty, but to fill it up fully before you take off. You will get more water during the flight, but this way you can be sure you don’t go thirsty while flying (or while on your trip).
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8 | Collapsible Water Bottle – If you want to travel with something smaller/ more compact, the collapsible water bottle may be a better option for you.
- SAFETY AND HEALTH - Collapsible travel cup made from food-grade silicone, BPA free and odorless. Feature with...
- OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE - Can be hung on the bag of a connective hand rope and portable hook.Much easier to hold and...
9 | 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!
10 | 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 10 Tablet is a great (and cheap!) alternative.
- Includes the latest Fire HD 10 Tablet with Special Offers, 32GB, Plum ($149.99), Amazon Cover, Plum ($39.99), and Nupro...
- 10.1" 1080p full HD display; 32 or 64 GB of internal storage (add up to 512 GB with microSD)
Also, to get more out of your tablet, you can add a keyboard (like this one) and essentially use it as a laptop. Load your favorite TV shows and movies while at home on your WiFi so that you can stay entertained if the flight does not have the best options on board.
11 | Noise-Canceling Headphones – I recommend bringing your own 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. They are excellent for cancelling out any unpleasant sounds that you might encounter during your flight.
If you’re looking for an upgrade, the Beats Studio3 headphones are the way to go. They are excellent for cancelling out any unpleasant sounds that you might encounter during your flight.
- WHATS IN THE BOX: Beats Studio 3 Wireless Headphones | Carrying Case | (NOT Included: microUSB Cable and Remote Talk...
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!
12 | Portable Charger – 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.
13 | Portable Power Banks – Just in case there is not a outlet on the plane, I always take one of these with me. Best case is that you have one that has both standard USB ports and USB-C ports so it is easy to use all your different charging cords. Here are two options:
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- ✅【From INIU--the SAFE Fast Charge Pro】Experience the safest charging with over 38 million global users. At INIU,...
- ✅【Market's Thinnest 10000mAh】 The market’s one and only 0.5-inch power bank that breaks the limit of 10000mAh,...
14 | 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.
- Compatible Space: The electronics organizer bag keeps all gadgets in one place, 5 elastic loops(S) for slender cables,...
- Lightweight Travel Accessories: The size of the electronic organizer travel case is 9.4" L x 6.7" W x 1.4" H, and its...
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:
15 | Body Wipes – Bring wet wipes or baby wipes to keep yourself smelling fresh when you can’t quickly get to a shower.
- UNSCENTED WET WIPES: Clean yourself with our unscented biodegradable wipes from head to toe without being overwhelmed by...
- IDEAL CLEANING WIPES FOR POSTERIOR PAMPERING: At some point, a “number two” is inevitable while out in the woods....
16 | Face Wash – Depending on how long your flight is, you may need to do your standard “bedtime” routine. This means you need to keep up with your skin routine. I know that your choice here can be quite personal, but if you are looking for something new to try, I do recommend Paula’s choice products.
- EASY-TO-USE ACNE FIGHTING SYSTEM: This 3-step skin care system works quickly to combat and control stubborn acne,...
- Paula's Choice CLEAR Regular Strength Acne Kit contains 3 products: CLEAR Pore Normalizing Cleanser, CLEAR Regular...
17 | Face Lotion– Bring your favorite face lotion along too. It’s a good idea to reapply as you fly to keep your skin moist; plane air can be quite drying as mentioned above. Don’t forget to bring it in a travel-size container!
In addition to Paula’s choice mentioned above, love face care by Dermalogica – they have a great travel kit that is easy to pack up and take along on your journey (which will also include your face wash).I personally love face care by Dermalogica – they have a great travel kit that is easy to pack up and take along on your journey.
- Washes away impurities without stripping or drying.
- Reveals brighter, smoother skin.
18 | Deodorant – For the sake of everyone on the plane, please keep your pits fresh. I have been on one too many flights where body odor has been a problem.
If you’re looking for a nice aluminum-free option, try this option by Megababe.
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19 | Sunscreen – I like to bring a light sunscreen to keep my face and body protected, especially when traveling during the summer months.
I really like Neutrogena’s sunscreen, as it works well for both lighter and darker skin tones.
- Twin pack with two 3-fluid ounce bottles of Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Non-Greasy Sunscreen with SPF 45 that helps...
- This lightweight & sheer sunscreen is fast-absorbing with Dry-Touch technology for a non-greasy, matte finish and is...
20 | Makeup – Bring your makeup basics with you – I recommend keeping it light, unless you are attending a formal event while traveling.
21 | Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Floss – Bring along your standard dental hygiene items to keep your breath fresh on the flight :). Pro tip: Keep your regular brushing schedule while on board – brushing before you sleep and after you wake up will be beneficial to you and your seat mates.
See below for a nice travel-sized teeth cleaning kit you can easily pack in your carry-on.
22 | Hair Ties – Keep your hair out of your face by bringing along hair ties so that you don’t have to worry about it while flying. I pretty much only use those by Goody’s, which really work well and last for a long time (no snapping mid-ponytail).
- Goody Elastics: Keep hair in place and out of your face with the Goody Ouchless 4MM Elastics. Includes 27 black...
- Ouchless: The pain-free, strong comfortable hold won’t snag or pull your hair.
23 | Hair Scarf – I recommend bringing your regular hair scarf along if you tend to wrap your hair or pineapple your curly hair at night. You may want to bring a black one so that it appears more like a style than a bedtime thing (if that matters to you).
- Material: Made of 100% silky feel polyester satin.super soft and comfortable. Lightweight but keep your neck warm in...
- Dimension: 35*35 inches/90*90cm, can be worn around neck, head, waist, or hair as well as on a hat or handbag, etc.
24 | Lip Balm – As mentioned earlier, you are likely to get dry skin while flying, so bring along a lip balm to keep your lips hydrated too. Burt’s Bees is one of my all-time favorite brands as it just works.
- LIP CARE: Refresh your lips with Burt's Bees Moisturizing Lip Balm in a variety of naturally nourishing flavors
- TOTAL HYDRATION: Hydrate and soften dry lips with beeswax and fruit extracts packed into every tube of Burt's Bees lip...
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:
25 | Hand Sanitizer – This is kind of a given these days, but it is a great idea to always have hand sanitizer on you so you can keep your hands germ free, particularly when you are getting ready to eat.
- Show you care about well-being with PURELL Advanced Hand Sanitizer Refreshing Gel
- Kills 99.99 percent of most common germs that may cause illness. Outperforms other sanitizers ounce-for-ounce
26 | 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.
27 | Melatonin – Melatonin is a great supplement to help you sleep better – very helpful if you have trouble sleeping on planes.
- Sleep Support Supplement: Contains one 200 count bottle of Natrol Melatonin 5mg Strawberry-Flavored, Fast-Dissolve...
- Nighttime sleep aid supplement with 5mg of 99% pure Melatonin per serving to help you get restful sleep and wake up...
28 | 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.
29 | 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 and Imodium in case of emergency.
30 | Charcoal Tablets – As mentioned above, flying can make you gassy, and therefore a bit smelly. Save yourself and others around you by taking these before your fly. (Please check any contraindications with current mediations first though.)
- ACTIVATED CHARCOAL CAPSULES: Charcoal powder is used for health, beauty & oral care & has traditionally been used to...
- DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS: Activated Charcoal is a naturally sourced health and dietary supplement that's been used to support...
31 | First Aid Kit – This may go without saying, but it is best to be prepared with a first aid kit that keeps you safe in case of injury while traveling. This is definitely for the worst-case scenario, but can bring some peace of mind.
- FULLY PACKED ▶ Everything you need is in a small kit! Fully packed with 100 pieces useful and valuable hospital grade...
- CERTIFICATED ▶ All our products are with international certifications to ensure compliance with global standards...
32 | Antibacterial Wipes – Just in case your flight attendants to provide them to you, I recommend bringing along some Wet Ones to wipe down any surfaces that you will be in contact with. In these times, it never hurts to be safe.
33 | Jet Lag Relief – There are several homeopathic remedies out there today that can help you feel a bit less fatigued and “weird” overall after your first few hours after landing.
- REDUCES JET LAG - After a long-haul flight, we all want to arrive feeling fresh and alert and with NO-Jet-Lag you can....
- HOMEOPATHIC INGREDIENTS - Using a unique formulation our 5 main active ingredients are all plant based and have NO side...
34 | Pair of 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 (deep vein thrombosis) – I can testify to the former!
- ✅ Improve Blood Circulation: Our 20-30mmHg compression socks boost your blood circulation and relieve leg pain,...
- ✅ All Day Comfort: Our socks are very comfortable, lightweight, and breathable so that you can wear them all day! The...
35 | Adjustable Airplane Footrest – This footrest is a adjustable sling that you can use to keep your feet up while flying. It pairs nicely with the compression socks to help keep the blood from pooling in your feet. It is a little harder to use if you are in an aisle seat, but easy enough to just take your feet out of when someone is trying to walk by.
- SUPPORT LEG & LOWER BACK - Have you ever suffered from discomfort or even pain in your lower back or leg as you travel...
- NO FOOT & ANKLES CLASHING - Thanks to the flat and stable wide foot hammock design, our airplane foot rest offer...
36 | Travel Documents – Your important documents such as passports, IDs, credit cards, and visas should all be on hand with you at all times.
37 | 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.
38 | Travel Journal – If you like to journal, bring it along! This is another way to keep yourself occupied during your time in the air.
- ✔DURABLE GENUINE LEATHER TRAVEL NOTEBOOK - Made from Classy & Durable Top Layer Genuine Leather with a real leather...
- ✔PREMIUM THICK PAPER - 100gsm archival-quality pages made from acid-free paper which resists damage from light and...
39 | Travel Insurance – Travel insurance is a good idea, particularly if you are going to be traveling for a long time. There are many options, such as the one provided by World Nomads that can give you more peace of mind while traveling. Buy this BEFORE your flight!
World Nomads provides travel insurance for travelers in over 100 countries. As an affiliate, we receive a fee when you get a quote from World Nomads using this link. We do not represent World Nomads. This is information only and not a recommendation to buy travel insurance.
40 | Good Book – If you are similar to me, and like feeling the page turn when you read, you may want to bring an actual book along. Just try to opt for one that isn’t too big to cary with you!
41 | Snacks – Some airlines can be depending on for good food, and others cannot. It’s a great idea to bring your own snacks along just in case you don’t like the options onboard so that you don’t go hungry on the flight.
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.
Also, if that one doesn’t fit your needs, I recommend considering the Nordace Smart Backpack which comes with outlets you can use for charging your electronics.
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
- How to Plan a Trip in 12 Simple Steps
Last update on 2023-12-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API