I’ve been traveling full-time for two and a half years now and I’ve been on several long haul flights. In fact, my first international flight when I started my travels was nearly seventeen hours long.
Long haul flights can seem like they are a million hours long, especially when you don’t pack the essentials. I’ve spent countless hours on flights wishing I had downloaded more movies on my phone or packed a pillow.
I’ve definitely learned from my mistakes and I guess you can kind of call me a packing expert on what long haul flight essentials you should pack in your carry on.
In this post, I’ve listed all of the long haul flight essentials that you should pack in your carry on. These items have truly changed the way I view long haul flights. Since I’m a major organization freak, I’ve divided the list into several categories so you can follow along easily.
In This Post:
The Important Stuff
Let’s get the nitty-gritty out of the way. Some of this may seem like basic information to you, but it’s important to keep these particular long haul flight essentials in mind if it’s your first trip abroad. If you have this part down, skip to the next section.
This is a no-brainer. Odds are, if you’re going on a long haul flight, you’re probably going abroad. Therefore, remember to pack your passport in your carry on. I usually pack mine the night before so I don’t forget it.
Keep your passport safe at all times. I like to keep my passport and boarding passes in a travel wallet. It keeps my important documents organized and I’m not fumbling through my carry on looking for them.
After I check-in for my flight, I immediately print out my boarding pass. You likely don’t need a physical copy of your boarding pass, but be sure to double-check with your airline.
I also add my boarding pass to my wallet on my iPhone so it’s readily available to scan before boarding the flight.
Why do I print out my boarding pass too? I honestly don’t have an answer for that. Like I told you before, I’m a neat freak. I need to have all my ducks in a row at all times.
Visa (If Needed)
You might not always need a visa depending on where you’re traveling to. Make sure you do your research and figure out if you need a visa for your destination ahead of time. I use this website and it’s amazing.
If your destination requires a visa, print out your visa and store it with your passport and boarding pass.
Health and Beauty Items
It’s important to keep in mind that the liquid items below should be less than 3.4 ounces. Otherwise, you’ll have to check in your carry on bag or toss the items that are above the limit.
Airplanes are breeding grounds for germs. You should always pack antibacterial wipes when flying anywhere regardless of it’s a long flight or short flight.
Use these wipes to wipe down your armrests, tray table, in-flight entertainment screen, and seatbelt buckles. This will reduce your exposure to pesky germs that will get you sick.
Hand sanitizer is another long haul flight essential. Make sure you use it throughout your flight to keep your hands clean and germ-free.
Toothbrush and Toothpaste
Some airlines provide passengers with toothbrushes and toothpaste, but it’s not the best quality. It gets the job done, but I personally don’t prefer them.
Brushing your teeth before you land will make you feel like a new person. You will feel refreshed and clean. If I don’t brush my teeth before I land, I brush them immediately after I land.
Flights can be really dehydrating. Your skin and your lips will start to feel dry. Pack an ultra-nourishing lip balm to keep your lips hydrated.
When I was a newbie traveler, I forgot to pack my lip balm in my carry on. My lips were incredibly chapped during that eight-hour flight. I’ve never made this mistake since then.
Traveling can be a stinky process. You’re running between gates, you’re walking around the airport, you’re sweating in the plane if you get too hot. All of these things can make your underarms smell. Keep those underarms fresh with some deodorant.
Let’s be real — your hair isn’t going to look flawless like it did when you first boarded the flight. My perfectly straight hair turns into a frizz ball by the end of a long haul flight.
Brush your hair before you land and you’ll be looking good as new.
Another long haul flight essential are facial wipes. You can find these wipes in a small pack that’s perfect for traveling.
I use these wipes to freshen my skin and to clean any gunk that may have accumulated on my face during the flight. This is a cheap and easy way to feel alive again.
Like I said above, flights will dry out your skin. Another long haul flight essential is a nice moisturizer.
I use mine several times during the flight to keep my skin glowing and hydrated. I hate arriving at my destination will dull and dry skin.
This is something that I’ve only discovered recently. I use my facial mist/toner when I need a little freshen up during the flight. The facial mist that I use also hydrates my skin.
Gum serves a dual purpose — it keeps your breath smelling fresh and clean and it also helps with your ears popping because of the air pressure.
If you have to take prescription medications, don’t forget to pack them in your carry on luggage.
I always board a plane with a mini-pharmacy. I pack ibuprofen in case I get a headache from the air pressure.
I also pack a nasal spray in case my nasal passages get dry and congested from lack of humidity. The nasal spray I use also kills germs that are entering my nasal passages.
In addition, I also pack Vitamin C to take during my flight to keep myself healthy and to avoid getting sick.
Figure out what medications you will need and pack them. Be careful not to take the medication out of its packaging or box. If you’re traveling with prescription medicine, keep the actual prescription handy in case you get asked about it.
As I’ve said before several times, airplanes will dry you out. This includes your eyes. Pack a small bottle of eye drops for instant dry eye relief.
Melatonin pills will come in handy if you’re a horrible sleeper like my husband is on flights. The poor man can never sleep on flights.
Items to Keep You Entertained
Keeping yourself entertained will make the flight go by faster. If you don’t come prepared in this department, your flight will feel longer than it actually us.
A Kindle is perfect for playing games or reading a book. I travel with a carry on only so I don’t have much room to pack an actual book.
Books used to be my obsession. I used to buy them all the time. It’s just not feasible for me to travel with them so I make do with an audiobook or an electronic version.
An iPad is perfect for watching movies on the flight. One time, I didn’t download any movies on my iPad because I thought there would be in-flight entertainment. I was wrong. Luckily, this was only a six-hour flight so I didn’t sit too long in utter boredom.
It’s always good to have movies and tv shows downloaded on your iPad just in case you don’t have in-flight entertainment or the options are limited.
You can also get some work done on your iPad if need be or you can download some podcasts too.
Noise Canceling Headphones
These are a lifesaver especially when there are loud people around you. I can sit on a plane in complete silence (well, except for the noise coming out of my headphones) and not have to listen to babies or the person snoring next to me. Noise-canceling headphones are a complete game-changer.
Items to Keep You Comfy
My NorthFace jacket is non-negotiable. I never fly without it. I always get cold on airplanes and it keeps me warm. I also like to put the hood on when I sleep. I feel like I have privacy and it keeps the light out of my eyes.
A Change of Clothes
I pack a pair of leggings and a loose-fitting top in my carry on also. This comes in handy when you want to do a quick outfit change to freshen up or if the airline loses your checked bag.
The pillows that the airline provides aren’t that comfy. Plus, I’m a germaphobe and I never know if they’re clean or not. Therefore, I travel with my own.
If it’s hard for you to fall asleep on flights, find a neck pillow that’s comfortable. It will help you sleep better which will help you with jetlag.
If you’re trying to sleep and it’s not an overnight flight, you might want to invest in an eye mask. This will keep the light out of your eyes and you can get some rest.
My ankles get incredibly swollen on flights. Another long haul flight essential for me are compression socks. They increase the blood flow in your legs and reduce the risk of your ankles getting swollen.
Other Long Haul Flight Essentials
Staying hydrated on a long haul flight is mandatory. I always travel with a water bottle so I can stay hydrated.
I fill it up after I clear security and I also ask the flight attendant to refill it for me when I run out.
Some budget carriers like Scoot Air won’t give you water even if you’re on a ten-hour flight with them. We were given no water on our flight from Singapore to Melbourne. I’m angry about that.
Some airplanes have USB ports where you can charge your electronic devices. Unfortunately, some budget carriers don’t. It’s always good to have a power bank so your electronics always have juice.
Snacks are another long haul flight essentials. Airplane food isn’t the best and I never eat it. I rely on the snacks that I bring on board with me.
Please do not pack anything that contains peanuts in case someone next to you is allergic.
I usually pack gummy bears, almonds, chips, and protein bars.
Random, I know. If you’re on a long haul flight, you’re probably going to have to fill out customs paperwork. Don’t be that annoying person asking your neighbors to borrow their pen when it comes time to fill out the paperwork.
I hope you found this list helpful and you know what long haul flight essentials to pack for next time. What items do you travel with? Let me know in the comments below.
Disha Smith is the founder of Disha Discovers. She quit her job in 2017 to travel the world to explore new cultures and experience new adventures. She has since been to 95+ countries and counting and has lived in South Africa, Thailand, Croatia, and Australia. She has done all kinds of travel ranging from luxury to budget backpacking, and her mission is to inspire others to discover their own sense of adventure and to help them plan a life full of meaningful experiences through travel.