No one enjoys sitting on a plane for extended periods but if you’re a travel enthusiast like me, its likely that you’ll be faced with a long flight every now and then. As a full-time travel blogger, I frequently take flights longer than 12 hours. Trust me, there are certain carry on essentials you just don’t want to forget!
To make your life easier, I’ve created the ultimate list of 27 long haul flight essentials that you should always bring with you. From the most obvious items to things you probably haven’t thought of, this tried-and-true carry on check list will come in handy time and time again.
There have been many times where I’ve forgotten to pack one of my favourite items on a long flight. Learn from my mistakes and read on to find the 27 long haul flight essentials that are guaranteed to make your next flight more comfortable!
In the age of Covid-19, travel certainly looks a little different these days. As the world begins to open back up, there are more and more people taking international flights be it for business or pleasure. Making sure you are safe and protected during your flight is an absolute must.
I’ve included a special section on sanitization essentials along with some tips that will be very useful for any long haul flight during the pandemic.
Table of Contents
Long Haul Flight Essentials – 27 Carry On Essentials for Long Flights in 2021
Must Have Items for Every Long Haul Flight
Carry On Bag
Before stocking up on any of these long haul flight essentials, you’ll need to make sure you have something to pack them in. You should choose a backpack that can fit everything you need for the flight without being too big to take as carry on.
A personal favourite of mine is the Matein Travel Backpack. For a very reasonable price, this carry on backpack is specifically designed for travel. Some of the best features include a USB charging port, laptop compartment, anti-theft pocket and a luggage strap making it easy to slide over your suitcase handle.
On top of being the perfect travel sized bag, it’s also lightweight and comfortable to carry. Another great option at a similar price point is this one which comes in a few different colours and fun designs. You can’t go wrong with either backpack.
Before you roll your eyes, I know this one sounds obvious. However, it wouldn’t be the first time someone forgot to bring their passport to the airport! To make it easier to remember, I use a passport wallet whenever I travel. I leave it in my carry on bag even when I’m not travelling to ensure it doesn’t get left behind.
I love this one and the fact that it comes in many different designs and colours makes it perfect for both men and women. It’s cute, practical and also makes a great gift idea for the travel loving friend or family member in your life.
When sitting on a long haul flight, chances are you will get hungry between the scheduled meal services. In case I start to feel hungry, I always pack a few essential items into a zip-lock bag. I like to pack protein rich snacks that keep me feeling full for longer.
Bringing your own food will also come in handy if you have a tight connection to make and don’t have enough time to stock up on snacks during your layover.
A few of my favourites:
- Protein bars – Clif Bars are always a good choice!
- Small bag of almonds/peanuts
- Dried chickpeas
- An apple or banana
- Small bag of popcorn
The feeling of pressure and discomfort building up in your ears is something you can’t avoid when flying. For some people it can be quite painful but luckily there are a few tricks you can try to help relieve the pressure. Simply yawning or swallowing can work for some.
For me, chewing gum seems to be the best way to equalize the pressure. On top of that, it’s a great way to keep your breath feeling fresh and smelling good during the flight.
Portable Battery Charger
You’ll be using your phone, kindle and other devices a lot throughout your entire journey. The last thing you want is for the batteries to go flat mid flight and be stuck without any form of entertainment. Some newer planes have USB charging ports available to use at your seat but to be on the safe side, you should come prepared.
This portable charger has been a life saver for me on long flights. It’s slim, lightweight and easy to fit in your carry on bag ensuring your electronics can be charged whenever needed. Once you arrive at your destination, it’s also great to keep in your hand bag when your out and about sightseeing all day.
Reusable Water Bottle
Ever feel like your mouth and throat completely dries out after hours of sitting in a plane? The lack of humidity inside the cabin can cause dehydration if you’re not careful. Staying hydrated on long flights is really important, especially if you’re going to be fighting jet lag on the other end.
Do yourself a favour and pack a water bottle in your long haul flight essentials bag! Just make sure it’s empty before going through security. Many airports have water filling stations after security. If you can’t find one, just ask the flight attendant to fill it once you board the plane.
Even though the flight attendants will bring you water any time you ask, it’s much easier to keep a bottle at your seat. This way you won’t have to disturb the sleeping guy beside you whenever you feel thirsty. I really like this collapsible bottle because it easily folds up and fits nicely in your carry-on bag.
To keep your carry-on bag organized, you’ll need a small toiletry bag to pack your personal care items/medications in. Make sure it’s waterproof, transparent and TSA approved. This will help you get through security quicker and avoid having to take each item out and transfer them to a plastic bag.
Don’t forget you should only pack travel sized products that don’t exceed 100ml otherwise they will be confiscated at security! Click here to purchase your airline compliant toiletry bag.
When taking a long haul flight, it’s a given that you’ll have to fill out an arrival card before entering a new country. Don’t be one of those people who has to borrow a pen from the stranger sitting next to you. To ensure you never forget to bring a pen again, put one in your carry on bag and keep it in there at all times.
Carry-On Essentials for Personal Care
Tooth Brush and Toothpaste
As a dental nurse, you’ll never catch me leaving home without these two essentials. When I travel I make sure to bring my toothbrush packed in its travel case with a travel-sized toothpaste and some dental floss. You can call me crazy, but I can’t go a day without flossing my teeth (even on long flights)!
With that being said, I know not everyone is as dental hygiene focused as me. If you’re one of those people who prefers not to brush on long flights but still wants to have fresh breath, you could opt to bring some mouthwash instead. This kit is perfect for travel.
Hand and Face Moisturiser / Lip Balm
The dry, recycled cabin air can leave your skin feeling itchy and irritated. On top of that, frequent use of hand sanitizer only makes matters worse. Bringing a good moisturiser and lip balm is crucial to keep your skin from drying out.
Nivea Soft is my go-to for face and hands during long haul flights, the added Vitamin E really gives your skin the extra boost that it needs. Just make sure that the bottle is 100ml or under!
Being on a long haul flight typically means that the time between your showers will be much longer than usual. Not to mention sitting next to a stranger for more than 12 hours can make you feel very conscious of your personal hygiene/body odour.
I personally like to pop into the bathroom to freshen up every now and then during long flights. Bringing a travel-sized deodorant stick with you can make all the difference. You might even want to try these underarm deodorant wipes to keep you feeling extra fresh.
Facial Cleansing Wipes
Even though I don’t wear makeup on flights, there’s something about being able to cleanse my face that makes me feel 100 times better. You definitely won’t regret throwing a pack of these in your carry-on bag!
There’s nothing worse than being stuck on a long flight with a pounding headache and no pain killers. Based on my own experience, it’s best to pack some ibuprofen in your carry on bag just in case.
If you’re one of those people who is affected by motion sickness, you should definitely make sure to get some of these motion sickness tablets before you go. You really never know how bad turbulence will be on your flight so it’s a good idea to be prepared. The person sitting next to you will also be very thankful you did.
Long Haul Flight Essentials for Sanitization
Long before the time of Covid-19, I’ve religiously carried a bottle of hand sanitizer with me on every long haul flight. Airports and planes are a breeding ground for bacteria with thousands of people touching the same surfaces on a daily basis.
The mere thought of it makes me want to clean my hands constantly when I travel! That’s why I always make sure to keep a bottle or two of my favourite hand sanitizer in my carry-on bag at all times.
At the time of writing, most airlines and airports require that you wear a face mask. If you forget to bring one with you, it’s likely that you’ll be given one to wear at the airport. Chances are it will be one of those uncomfortable, disposable ones.
Wearing a reusable face mask is a much more comfortable and environmentally friendly option. If you feel the need to change your mask throughout the flight, these reusable masks come in packs of two or three.
For peace of mind, it’s a good idea to give the hard surfaces around your seat a quick wipe before settling in. Disinfecting things like the arm rests, tray table, seat buckle, screen and remote will act as an extra precaution to keep you from getting sick.
Don’t forget to clean your phone, laptop and any other items that you regularly touch throughout the journey. It’s also worth mentioning that you should avoid touching your face as much as possible during the flight.
Even if you clean everything around you thoroughly, you’re far less likely to transfer any unwanted germs to your face if you don’t touch it. Throw a travel-sized pack of disinfectant wipes into your carry-on essentials bag before your flight.
Long Haul Flight Essentials for Comfort
It’s hard to get any sleep on planes with bright lights and people constantly moving around you. An eye mask is certainly one of those long haul flight essentials that you cannot forget to pack!
You’ll want one that is soft and comfortable yet completely blocks out all light. This popular eye mask makes an excellent choice.
To ensure you get some peace and quiet on your next flight, you need to pack a pair of good quality earplugs. Lately I’ve really been liking these silicone earplugs. They’re noise cancelling and mould perfectly into your ears. An essential for being able to sleep on long flights, I’ll never fly without them again!
Sitting upright in a small, cramped space isn’t the most comfortable way to sleep but having a decent travel pillow can make all the difference. The drawback to these is that they can be bulky and annoying to carry around, most of them being far too big to fit inside your carry-on bag.
The NeckSnug Pillow is the perfect solution. It easily rolls up into it’s own compact bag which clips onto the outside of your carry-on backpack. The bonus is that it also comes with a super comfy eye mask as well as earplugs all for a surprisingly reasonable price. Say good-bye to neck pain and head-dropping on your next long haul flight!
When you board a long flight, the first thing you’ll want to do is take your shoes off and get comfortable. Having a pair of comfy socks is a must. Going a step further than comfort, you should consider bringing a pair of compression socks.
When you spend many hours sitting in one spot, circulation becomes restricted in your legs which can result in swelling. Wearing compression socks has become a popular way to prevent this from happening during long flights.
Read more about the benefits of wearing compression socks while flying and then grab a pair of your own before you go.
Wear Comfortable Clothing
Do yourself a favour and don’t wear jeans on a long flight. After 12 hours of wearing the same clothing, pretty much anything you wear becomes uncomfortable. You’ll want to go for something stretchy like leggings or yoga pants.
Change of Clothing
If you have more than one long flight to catch, bringing a spare outfit to change into on your layover can also help you to feel more comfortable.
The other reason I always pack a change of clothing in my carry-on essentials bag is to be prepared in the unfortunate event that my luggage gets lost at the other end.
Going hand in hand with wearing comfy clothing, you’ll want to pack something to keep you warm. Sometimes those blankets that they hand out on long flights just don’t cut it.
The aircon inside of the cabin is almost always too cold. Bringing a simple hoodie or pullover can make all the difference to your comfort.
Carry-On Essentials for Entertainment
Noise Cancelling Headphones
This is one of my favourite long haul flight essentials that I bring on every flight, no matter how long or short it is. After investing in a pair of Bose noise cancelling headphones a few years ago, I’ll never go back to using regular headphones on flights. The reduction in background noise is amazing and makes a huge difference to comfort.
Whether you’re planning to watch movies or listen to music, I promise you nothing will cancel out the noise around you better than these! They’re not cheap but if you travel often and spend a lot of time on planes or busses, it will prove to be well worth the investment.
If you’re an avid reader, there’s no better time to dive into a good book than during a long haul flight. Kindles are perfect for travel as they take up very little space and allow you to bring hundreds of books along on your travels. Gone are the days of carrying bulky books around in your luggage.
An added bonus is that having a Kindle will save you money in the long run. The Kindle version of any book is pretty much always cheaper than the paperback copy. If someone gives you a great book recommendation, all you have to do is jump on wi-fi and you can download it!
Bringing a small laptop or tablet with you allows you to watch your own movies or tv shows during the flight. If you have some work to catch up on, you could also use that time to be productive.
Even if you choose not to use your laptop during the flight, it’s best to bring it in your carry-on bag. This way you’ll still have your most valuable item with you if your luggage happens to get lost at the other end.
While most people will swear by the MacBook Air for travel, the laptop I use for blogging has proven to be an awesome travel laptop. After researching laptops for months, I ended up going with the Dell Inspiron and couldn’t be happier. It’s compact, lightweight and easily fits into my travel bag. The battery life is great which means you will be able to watch hours of movies without having to recharge it.
This one is more of a travel tip than a long haul flight essential. If you have Spotify Premium on your phone, you will be able to download your playlists for offline use. This has been a game changer for me on long flights and something that I cannot travel without!
Being able to drown out the sound of babies crying and people coughing with your favourite music is a great way to enhance your flying experience. Not to mention, I find that listening to a relaxing playlist actually helps me to sleep better on flights.
Read More Travel Tips:
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- Budget Travel Hacks That Will Save You Hundreds
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Perfect timing on this list. I am packing for a long-haul flight to Poland today so I will definitely be double-checking with this list!