Long Haul Flight Essentials
After spending 36 hours traveling to Bali last year I feel like some sort of a long haul flight expert. I mean flying from New York to Asia is not an easy feat. Especially when you’re flying economy and I did it twice last year! Raise your hand if you like spending 13 straight hours sitting uncomfortably close to total strangers. Nope, I didn’t think so!
I have found that the key to surviving long haul flights is preparation and a carry-on filled with all the long flight essentials you need.
What you have in your carry-on will either make or break your journey. The thought of flying without every single item I might need gives me a ton of anxiety, so I’ve perfected the list of my essentials to make my life on the flight just a little bit easier. Being prepared for any scenario with a well-packed carry-on will easily make your long flight completely bearable and stress-free.
If you’ve never been on a long flight it might be hard for you to know what you’ll need in the first place. You might have not even questioned why what is in your carry-on is important. Well just think worst-case scenario. You arrive at your destination, but your checked luggage does not. We’ve all been there and it’s not a fun way to start your trip. If even that dreaded situation should happen, it’ll definitely be less of a headache knowing you have all your essentials items in your carry-on.
If your ultimate goal is being prepared and landing in your destination feeling refreshed and looking your best, then this list of long flight essentials will help you tremendously.
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The important stuff
So let’s get the really important things out of the way. If you don’t have these items you might as well stay home. Please, please don’t forget to have these items with you!
Passport and a copy of your passport
Your passport is obviously the most important thing you need to carry. It’s your lifeline and if you lose it while you’re abroad, it can potentially cause a lot of headaches that you don’t need. This is why I suggest having a photocopy of your passport as well.
I recommend printing it out, even if you have a mobile boarding pass. It’s just nice to have a backup.
Visa/visa waiver as needed
Depending on where you are going and how long you’re going for, you might need to get a visa. You should carry a copy of this as well also just in case. I always check this website to find out if the country I’m going to requires a visa. It’s super helpful no matter what country you’re from.
Confirmation of all your travel bookings
This includes flights, hotels, Airbnb, car rentals, trains, excursions etc. While I have all my confirmations in an email, I have been in situations where the hotel cannot find my reservation and there wasn’t wifi. You can probably guess what I am going to save next. Print out these confirmations…just in case.
You’ll need a pen to fill out travel custom and immigration forms on the flight or when you land. Flight attendants don’t usually have any pens to lend, so if you don’t want to bug your fellow passenger for one just remember to bring your own.
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Long Flight Essentials For Comfort
This list will be long because comfort is crucial for surviving a long haul flight.
Change of clothes
If you read my 10 tips for surviving a long haul flight you’ll know that I shared my long haul flight outfit. I always aim for comfort especially if I want to sleep a good portion of the flight. That includes loose-fitting clothes and lots of layers. In addition to that, I always pack a change of underwear, a spare pair of socks and a change of clothes suitable for my destination.
You definitely don’t want to land in the same clothes you just spent 10 plus hours in. Hello BO! Airplanes can get very cold so I sometimes also bring a cozy hoodie too so I can be ultra comfy on my long haul flight.
Travel pillows- they come in all sort of varieties nowadays, so you have many types to choose from. Some people love the inflatable ones as they don’t take as much space but, I don’t find them as comfortable and prefer to use a microfiber one.
This is definitely a long flight essential if you want to block out light while you sleep. Any nice silky one will do, but this inexpensive one is my favorite one.
You should look up images of DVT which is a condition that causes blood clots from poor circulation due to being on a long flight and not walking around enough. Compression socks do allow that to happen so wear them and also walk around as much as you can.
Slip on and off shoes
Speaking of walking as much as you can, to make that easier you’ll want to have shoes that you can easily slip on and off. Not only is it great for going through security, but it also makes it easy to throw them on whenever you need to get up to go to the bathroom when on the plane.
I like to bring a scarf just in case the airline doesn’t provide a blanket. A scarf doubles as a blanket that you can cover yourself in to stay warm or just cover your entire head like I do.
Airplanes are one of the driest places you can experience. This can lead to your eyes getting red, dry and itchy. Do yourself a favor and drop one of these in your carry-on.
You probably weren’t expecting this one, but this is my favorite long flight essential. I always carry a small bottle of lavender essential oil with me on a flight because it does so many things. Lavender is calming, relieves stress, alleviates headaches and inflammation. It also helps me fall asleep faster.
Sleep aids can help both during the flight and with jetlag when you arrive at your destination. If you are planning to use sleep aids (including melatonin, or prescription drugs such as Ambien), make sure you try them before you fly. These drugs can vary greatly in how they affect people, so you will want to try them at home before you rely on them on the plane.
Long Flight Essentials for Entertainment
Even with in-flight entertainment, it’s inevitable that you’ll get bored on your flight. At least I eventually do. In that instance or just in case you can’t sleep and the plane doesn’t have any good movies, pack yourself some back-up entertainment.
Whether it be a physical book or on a tablet, a good book makes time pass so quickly.
If you’re not into the idea of bringing a book, a magazine will do and will take up less space.
Make sure to download your favorite movies and TV shows.
I know you’re obviously going to bring your cellphone with you, but it’s on the list so you can remember to load it with your favorite playlists and podcasts. Binging on one of my favorite podcasts Crime Junkies got me through 4 hours on my flight to Thailand.
Noise canceling headphones
I recently asked my Instagram followers if they could only bring one thing with them on a long flight what would it be. A lot of people said earphones/headphones including myself. I need something that lets me shut out everything that is going on during the flight and headphones are it. I personally like these foldable, lightweight ones that you can find on Amazon.
Long Flight Essentials for Hygiene
Ahh here we finally get to the ever so important toiletries section. Long flight or not, I never travel anywhere with my toiletry bag. I have a million little 3 ounce bottles and need them to be organized in one place. Whether you use a toiletry bag or just a ziplock bag, these are the long flight essentials I recommend you get.
Even if I am not wearing makeup, I always have a pack of makeup wipes with me. They come in so handy if you need to freshen up during or after your flight and, of course, pretty handy for removing makeup as well. My favorite are this cucumber and sage wipes. They’re gentle, light and refreshing.
Toothbrush and toothpaste
No one wants smelly breath so don’t forget to pack these. Travel sizes are handy because the toothbrush folds in on itself so it’s super compact and keeps the bristles totally clean. Another long flight essential is a travel sized toothpaste or a larger one. You can’t go wrong with this dental travel kit.
This is a definite essential! For both the long journey and for using in your destination, I always have a mini deodorant on me.
The dry air on the plane can be so unforgiving on your skin. Get yourself a good moisturizer and your skin will thank you. I’ve recently found my holy grail of moisturizers. It’s one by Clinique and is a hydration dream.
Yes, the dry air affects your lips too.
Let’s face it, there’s a good chance you won’t be smelling so fresh after you land. A nice smelling body spray will definitely come in handy. In additional to spraying it on myself, I like to spray it on the scarf I wrap around my head so I am always smelling something good!
Hair ties and brush
Your hair may have looked cute when you boarded the plane, but 10 hours of tossing around in a seat you’re going to look like a hot mess.
Long Flight Essentials for Food and Drinks
Okay, so I’m thinking of changing my answer when I said if I could only bring one item on a long flight it would be earphones. I just remembered that snacks are way more important. Knowing how awful airplane food can be, you better make sure you have a stash of your favorite snacks with you. On my flight from JFK to Hong Kong I slept through dinner and was happy I had packed a ton of snacks to hold me over until the next meal.
An item I never leave home without is a water bottle and it’s definitely a carry on long flight essential as well. Depending on which carry-on I travel with, I either take my insulated steel water bottle or my water bottle with a straw. I make sure the bottle is empty to go through security and then ask the flight attendants to fill it up with water throughout the flight.
Not only does it keep your breath fresh, but it also helps with air pressure in your ears.
Last but not least we have a travel charger. I would not categorize this one as essential but definitely nice to have. While you may not need to charge your phone on the plane, it might be hard to find an available outlet at the airport if you have a long layover. Try this little one or this slightly bigger one if you need to charge 2 things at once.
I hope you found these long flight essentials helpful! Let me know if there is something you always pack that is not listed. Do you have any tips for long haul flights that I can try? Drop a comment below!
Want more tips for surviving a long-haul flight? Check out my 10 Tips to Survive a Long-Haul Flight
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