If you’re an avid traveller, you’re going to want my ultimate packing list of essentials for a long haul flight. These flight essentials can be the difference between waking up fresh and not having had any sleep whatsoever on your long haul flight.
Travelling to a new country, far, far away is exciting. But let’s be honest, long haul flights in economy class are not the nicest or most comfortable.
You take your seat and watch as all the other passengers walk down the aisle towards you. You hope against all hope that they don’t stop to put their carry-on above your head and sit in the empty seat next to you that you wanted to stretch out on. But they always do.
Over the years, I’ve managed to gather together a variety of carry-on essentials for long haul flights (ok, I admit, I consider anything over 4 hours long haul!).
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Here are my travel tips, tricks and essentials for a long haul flight:
In the airport
If a really long flight isn’t daunting enough, you have to be at the airport 3 hours before the flight. Which usually means a very early morning (and I am NOT a morning person).
Book yourself into one of the airport lounges to get some shut eye and sustenance before the flight. Some credit cards offer free lounge access, or you can use your airmiles. If they’re not an option, check the price and pay for it if it’s not too expensive.
It’s especially handy if you have time during a layover as you can use their showers to freshen up before your next long flight.
For me, it’s one of the essentials for a long haul flight I can’t do without.
Carry on to fit all your essentials
Not to brag, but I am a pro at packing. I always manage to stuff a crap load into my carry-on, including my long haul flight survival kit. Rarely am I asked to weigh my carry-on and if I am, it’s always my suitcase. So, I just make sure the heaviest items are in my backpack. Of course, some airlines are a lot stricter so do make sure to check out airline cabin allowances before you travel.
Usually for long haul flights, I have with me:
- Travel wallet
I absolutely love my Zoppen Travel Wallet! I can’t even name the best thing about this as there are so many. The price is only $14. It comes in sooo many different colours. And it fits everything – your phone, passport, ticket, cards, a pen.
- Small crossbody bag
My choice is the Coach Rambler Crossbody as it’s small enough you can hide it if it’s a flight where you’re only allowed one carry-on. Secondly, it’s pretty stylish so you can use it as a going out bag in the evenings.
Knomo Luggage Women’s Beauchamp has space for a laptop and loads of pockets to fit all your long haul flight essentials. I tend to put all my essentials in the backpack as then I can keep it with me during the flight for easy access (under the seat in front).
- Small case
Suitcases for me have become more of an investment in the last few years. I have the most beautiful white and flowery wheelie bag that I fell in love with after seeing it in a shop window a few years ago. I used it as carry on a few times and then the zip broke. Then the straps started fraying. Now, it sits on top of my wardrobe, unable to travel because of it’s frail state.
So I’ve had to get a new one, a sturdier one, which will see me out from country to country. The IT Luggage 22“ is the world’s lightest carry-on, at just 4.07lbs and fits cabin size guidelines.
What's on my long haul flight essentials list
#1 Neck pillow
I’m currently using the MLVOC Travel Pillow. It’s super comfy memory foam and you can wrap it around your neck and clasp it shut so it never slides from under you and lands on the guy behind you…(oops)!
I’ve been through a multitude and this one is by far the best travel pillow for long haul flights
I’ve always been a bit of a germaphobe (even before pandemic life!). I once read an article where they interviewed a flight attendant and she said you’d be surprised how often they actually wash blankets (it was not a good surprise).
The Cabeau Fold-n-Go is an inexpensive, soft, comfortable blanket which comes in an equally soft travel case which you can double up and use as a pillow.
If you find you don’t have enough carry on space for your blanket, just carry it! They won’t take it off you if you’re going to be wearing it on the flight
#3 Foot sling
I can’t tell you how much I love my foot sling! I have short legs which barely touch the ground. This means that there’s a lot of pressure on my thighs during a long haul flight if I can’t move about, especially if there’s someone next to me who believes they should get all the leg room space just because I’m a shorty!
But this foot sling isn’t just recommended for short legged people. The Sleepy Ride foot swing is memory foam, so comfortable for those long haul flights.
#4 Phone charger
As I’m gluten free, I always bring snack on a flight with me, just in case they don’t have food I can have (I once asked if they had a gluten free option to be told, ‘No, but we have vegetarian if that will do?’)…
But even if you don’t have dietary requirements, I always recommend bringing snacks on a long haul flight. You don’t know when you’re going to be fed and you may end up sleeping through dinner! Try not to bring anything that will melt or get squashed in your bag.
#7 Noise cancelling headphones
I’m not the kind of person to give a parent dirty looks if a baby is screaming (I mean obviously it’s not their fault!) but that still doesn’t mean that I want to listen to the baby crying for a really long flight.
And I AM the kind of person to give a drunk adult making loads of noise a dirty look, which can get me in trouble, so noise cancelling headphones are one of the essentials for a long haul flight for me.
These Sony headphones are perfect for long haul flights as they have a 30 hour battery life to keep you going all the way from leaving your house to arriving at your hotel.
#8 Collapsible water bottle
These are super handy for travelling in general, not just for long flights. As soon as you’re through airport security you can fill your bottle up and, once empty, it stores down to fit into small spaces.
I love this one as you can use it for hot drinks too and it comes in different colours (always a must for me!)
#9 Compression socks
If you suffer from poor circulation, compression socks are a must to avoid blood clots on long haul flights.
Compression socks are not sexy. There’s no two ways about it. But I like these ones as they’re a little more funky than the usual ones you’ll find.
#10 Baby wipes
You’re going to want to freshen up after an 18 hour flight. These will have you smelling sweetly until you can get yourself to a shower.
#11 Eye mask
Essential if you have a neighbour who falls asleep with their overhead light on. Sure they can sleep with the light on but not me! These eye masks are super soft and comfortable for long haul flights. They’re also blackout so that annoying neighbour’s overhead light shouldn’t interfere.
#12 Ear plugs
I prefer to take off my headphones while sleeping as it’s more comfortable, so I always bring earplugs. I also have spares for the hotel I’m staying in, just in case I don’t have a quiet room.
#13 Lip balm & eye drops
Sitting in an airconditioned plane for hours at a time can leave your lips and eyes feeling dry. Don’t forget to stay hydrated, drinking lots of water, but also keep the lip balm and eye drops coming. If you use contact lenses, eye drops are most definitely an essential for long haul flights.
And there you have my absolute essentials for a long haul flight (or even a short one). Start gathering together your flight survival kit for when it’s safe to start travelling again.
Do you travel with this many items in your carry-on? Let me know your essentials for a long haul flight in the comments below.
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