As someone who has been on quite a lot of long haul flights, I know how draining they can be. Unless you’re flying first class (I wish!), then you are cramped in a small space for hours at a time which can be frustrating and incredibly uncomfortable. In this post, I’ve listed all of the top long haul flight essentials that you should pack in your carry on.
I made so many mistakes over the years when travelling long haul so I hope that this guide will help you to know what to pack for a successful, stress-free long haul flight!
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The important stuff For Long hauls
First of all, let’s get the crucial stuff out of the way – you ain’t going anywhere without the following items. It may seem obvious but as I’ve met quite a lot of people who have forgotten/lost one or more of these along the way, I had to include them.
Passport and a copy of your passport
When travelling, your passport is your lifeline – protect it and keep it safe at all costs. Losing it abroad will give you nothing but headaches and drama that you don’t need. I keep all of my important documents in a travel wallet plus I make sure to keep photocopies of them elsewhere and photo’s of my passport backed up via cloud storage.
Nowadays, you don’t usually have to print this out but make sure to check with your airline. This is something that I also store online and have easy access to through TripIt – an app on my phone.
Visa/visa waiver as needed
This might not always apply depending on where you are going but there is a really cool website to find out if it does. It’s really helpful no matter where you’re from. It helped a lot on my recent trip to New York.
Confirmation of all your travel bookings
Try to keep all of your bookings in one place – there are so many great tools online that can help you do this. Just make sure that you have easy access to them in case there are issues with WI-FI, booking systems etc. It’s better to be on the safe side.
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How to be comfortable on a long haul flight
Change of clothes
If you read my post about how to survive a long haul flight, then you’ll know I’m all about the comfort! I honestly don’t care about how I look for a long haul once I’m comfy! So my long haul outfit is loose-fitting tops, bottoms and easy to get off trainers. I also often pack a spare pair of socks, underwear and a spare top/change of outfit depending on my destination.
I have tried and tested a ridiculous amount of neck pillows over the years. I’m an awful sleeper at the best of times so I’ve bought into the ‘you need a neck pillow to sleep on a plane’ idea. But NONE of the neck pillows worked, they just annoyed me as they ended up being something extra to carry….until I found this bad boy. I simply drape it around my neck while boarding and its so comfortable and has helped me to get a couple of hours shut eye on long hauls.
A good eye mask goes part and parcel with a good travel pillow for sleep on a long haul flight. Especially if you’re not a good sleeper like me. Go for something silk or cooling and head off into dreamland on that long haul!
Similarly to the eye mask and neck pillow, earplugs can be a great comfort if you want to sleep on a long haul flight. I grabbed this jar which has lasted a couple of years now and bring a pair or two with me. You can tell that I do my absolute best to sleep on a long haul right?! And you should too, it’s the absolute best way of passing the time!
Do not go on a long haul flight without compression socks. There, I said it. Honestly, you really should invest in a pair if you haven’t already. They might feel a little tight but they help to increase the blood flow in your lower legs, reducing the risk of blood clots and swollen ankles. I am not a medical professional so please make sure to check with your GP if you are unsure in any way.
I always bring a scarf with me when travelling even if I am heading to a hot country. It doesn’t have to be super thick and woolly – scarves are so versatile. The perfect scarf can be used to keep you warm on a long flight or rolled up as extra support to your neck pillow. Plus when you arrive at your destination it can be used as an actual scarf, as a beach sarong or as a cover-up in religious places.
Airplanes are notoriously dry environments and this is especially true for long haul flights. I wear contact lenses so I would never dream of travelling without eye drops but I also think they are an essential item for all travellers. They give such relief and comfort so make sure to pop them into your carry on.
I am not a massive fan of sleeping aids but I do often use this Magnesium Spray which really does help a bad sleeper like myself. Magnesium is a natural, homoeopathic sleep remedy which is also good for your bones. It stings a little when you apply it but honestly, the rewards of good sleep are worth it!
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Essential Health and Beauty Items
Planes are the perfect place for germs to spread – a contained space full of people for several hours – you can be sure that germs are everywhere. I’m not gonna lie, I do wipe down the armrests and tray table when I get on board and use hand sanitiser throughout the flight.
Long haul flights can be incredibly dehydrating and often our lips are affected the most. Bring a good lip balm like this one to keep them hydrated. And drink water too!
Similarly to the lip balm, our face and body are affected by dehydration too. I apply a good skin moisturiser like this one and reapply a couple of times during the flight. Sometimes, if I feel brave enough I might wear a face mask too. Hydration is key on a long haul!
Travelling is a sweaty process – walking between terminals, walking to your gate, walking around duty-free – for some reason, it always feels like the heat is on no matter what time of year it is. I don’t know if it’s the heightened energy of travelling but I need deodorant. I am trying to be more sustainable so I bring this eco-friendly, solid deodorant and it has now become one of my favourite long haul flight essentials.
This Mario Badescu facial spray is a serious game changer and one of my absolute favourite facial sprays. If I’m honest, it comes with me everywhere as it is so refreshing! It also doesn’t damage your make-up, it wakes you up and it’s just overall an amazing product. I mention it often on my blog and it’s reasonably priced at around €12/$14.
Toothbrush and paste
Always pack a small toothbrush and paste – it will make such a difference. Brushing your teeth with this amazing eco-friendly brush towards the end of the flight particularly will make you feel like a different person when you land.
Hair Brush and Bobbins
You may have styled your hair to perfection before boarding but you can be sure that it will look a hot mess when you arrive. My hair went through quite a delicate phase recently and I now never use those tight ‘elasticated bands’ when throwing my hair up – I highly recommend scrunchy/silky ties like these ones here which will protect your hair.
Chewing gum is a great way to equalize the pressure in your ears and avoids possible ear pain. It also doubles up as a way to freshen your breath which if I’m honest, many of us need during and after a long haul!
If you need to bring medication on your trip, always pack it in your carry-on – this is something you will always have close-by, unlike your suitcase which could get lost in transit. To save space, take the tablets out, crush the outer packet and put the tablets back inside. This prevents bulk. I also highly recommend bringing a letter from your doctor as to why you need the medication you’re bringing and keep a copy of this letter somewhere safe.
Entertainment Ideas for a Long Haul Flight
I try to travel with hand luggage only as much as possible which often means that I can’t add a physical book to my list of long haul flight essentials. Sometimes I do buy a book at the airport as I adore reading and then pass it on to someone/hotel/hostel when I’m done.
Mostly though I pack my kindle as I can easily finish a book or two in a day so it makes more sense in terms of space and cost. Plus most Kindles now have an in-built light which means I won’t annoy people around me by turning on the overhead light
If books aren’t your thing, a magazine or two can be a change from the in-flight entertainment – flicking through celebrity spats, reading about crochet, puzzle magazines or whatever takes your fancy – it will pass some time on a long flight.
I don’t always rely on in-flight entertainment so I always make sure that I’ve downloaded some films or my favourite series from Netflix that I know I’ll enjoy. If I’m motivated to work then having the laptop is handy so I can write. Also, I usually travel with my partner and this headphone splitter means that we can watch a film together – plus it costs only a few euro!
You’ll most likely have your phone with you for maps, texting etc – but it can also be a great source of entertainment on a long haul flight. Podcasts are all the rage nowadays and sitting back listening to your favourites are a great way to pass the time. Just remember to download what you’d like to listen to in case your flight doesn’t have Wi-Fi.
Noise-cancelling headphones are a recent addition to my long haul flight essentials list. Now, I don’t know what I would do without them – because let’s be honest the ones you get on a plane are useless. A screaming baby or a loud snorer could be sitting beside me and I can be completely blissfully unaware!
My favourite pair are these ones which are reasonably priced and have great reviews. You might need an adaptor if you plan on using them with the airplane screen – you can check this with your airline beforehand.
Other Long Haul Flight Essentials
Collapsible Water Bottle
Staying hydrated is an absolute long flight must – I tend not to drink alcohol when flying (go you if you do!) as I find it really dehydrates me and I get awful headaches. Instead, I bring this water bottle which can be refilled on board if I ask plus it rolls up easily when needed to be packed away.
Snacks are an absolute must-have long haul flight essential – sometimes I eat the meals on-board but they often leave me bloated. So having a couple of snacks like TREK protein bars or NAKD bars which will help you feel full for longer. Always try to avoid anything with peanuts as you may have someone with a nut allergy on your flight – it’s generally said over the speaker but I tend to avoid bringing any just in case.
Some airlines have a USB port where you can charge your device but I will still always bring my trusty power bank just in case. It doesn’t take up too much space and I can keep my devices charged when needed.
I was first introduced to Erin Condren when I started teaching – she has created the most useful but also beautiful teacher planners. So when I saw that she also created Travel Journals – I had to get one! There is simply nothing else quite like it on the market. I love journaling and keeping track of my travels so if this interests you, then you need to check out her collection.
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What about you? What are your long haul flight essentials?
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