Some posts contain compensated links. Please read this disclaimer for more info.
Long Haul Flight Essentials: Carry On Packing List To Travel Lighter
You’re in luck! We’ve got a doubly helpful post for you today.
Part one is about what to take on a long flight to make sure you have a safe and comfortable flight. Part two are 14 tips to help you pack carry on only. It’s the ultimate carry on packing list, with all your needs met.
Whether you’re opting for carry on only, or you’re checking in a suitcase to the hold, there are certain “must-have” things that we call “long haul flight essentials” and just have to be in your cabin bag. Forget something important and your long haul trip will not be as much fun as it could have been, and certainly won’t be as comfortable as it could have been!
As for your carry on packing list, I know it can be overwhelming. I was bamboozled with all of the carry on packing tips I saw on YouTube and Facebook. There are arguments for rolling clothes and special folding techniques and stuffing things in shoes and everything in between. But never fear, down below are 14 of the best carry on tips you’ll ever need.
Right, let’s get into it.
Oh, wait, before we do, if you’re also wondering what to wear on a long haul flight we have all of that info here.
What To Bring On A Long Haul Flight: Long Flight Essentials List
Living in Australia, my whole life means that when I went to distant lands like Croatia, I had to endure lengthy overnight international flights every single time.
The journey from Sydney to our place in Croatia is about 35 hours door-to-door, way too long if you ask me, but I have learned a thing (or a hundred) on all of my long haul travel adventures. So trust me when I say, these long flight essentials are all you need to stay comfortable for your next overseas flight. Oh, and if you want to know what the things to wear on a long haul flight, you can find that right here.
Comfort & Entertainment Items For Your Next Overseas Flight
Hand sanitizer. Airport and plane toilets are not the nicest, let’s face it, so make sure you have something to protect you against any potential nasties. This is one of those truly unmissable long plane ride essentials.
Moisturizer. Aircon wreaks havoc on the skin, both on the face and hands, so a good quality moisturizer is one of those genuinely unmissable airplane travel necessities, to avoid those patchy dry skin marks – not good when you’re trying to get an even tan!
Lip balm. Again, you don’t want your lips drying out while you’re mid-air.
Face wipes/wet wipes. Pick a multi-purpose wipe, one that removes makeup, freshens the skin, and gives your hands a nicer feel, and you’ll be good to go. Check out these Natural Clean wipes, fantastic for sensitive skin. As far as travel tips and essentials go, these things are incredibly handy.
Kindle/E-Reader. Gone are the days of paperback books, and while you might still be lamenting that loss, you need to get with the times and purchase a high-quality e-reader. Kindle Fire is an excellent choice, as this doubles up as a tablet too, on which you can watch films and play games, as well as download all your books into your personal library.
Did you know: The least complicated of the Kindle e-readers costs just $79, making it perfect for travelers on a small budget. This E Ink device is lightweight and easy to use for hours, includes a touch-screen display, and offers Goodreads integration and FreeTime Unlimited.
Portable battery bank. Whether you have an iPhone or an Android device, the last thing you want to happen is running out of battery. Nothing’s more annoying! Buying a portable battery bank is, therefore, an excellent idea. This Nekteck is an exceptional choice, as it is suitable for both Apple and Android devices. Don’t forget this one! It’s one of the best things to take on a long haul flight.
Charging cables. Don’t forget your chargers, whether you go for a battery bank or not. How many cables you take depends on how many devices you’re using, so you probably need to factor in the room for your phone, tablet, and your laptop, if applicable.
Noise-canceling headphones. There is nothing worse than trying to watch a film or listen to music when you have children screaming around you or someone who simply can’t speak below 100 decibels! In terms of what to bring on a long plane ride, this is something that you will thoroughly enjoy having with you, truly one of the ultimate travel necessities for long flights.
Sleeping mask. This is a must if you’re on a long-haul flight because, at some point, you will want to try and get some sleep. This is not easy when you are surrounded by light and activity. Try and buy one that is padded and a little luxurious, to help you relax a bit more.
Neck pillow. If you’re traveling alone, or with other adults, you are going to want to sit down, relax, and chill the hell out. If you’re traveling with children, this might not be so easy, but a neck pillow is a good way to find some comfort. These can usually be looped onto the outside of your cabin luggage, too, to save some space. Lightweight, easy to carry, and to provide some welcome extra comfort, a neck pillow is one of the best things to bring on a long flight.
Thick, fluffy socks. A definite must-have! If you want to take your shoes off during the flight (highly recommended), you need to keep your feet clean and warm. A pair of thick, fluffy socks are the way forward.
Your favorite sweets/candy. Long haul air travel is a time to spoil yourself, to make time go faster! Pack a few of your favorite sweets or candies to treat yourself when you need a sugar boost.
Mints. If you suffer from slight travel nausea, a mint is an excellent suggestion to take away that unpleasant feeling, while also freshening up your mouth mid-flight.
Scarf/small throw. The aircon on the flight might be a little chilly, and in that case, a scarf or a small throw is the ideal way to keep warm.
Sunglasses. When you get off the plane, you’re probably going to feel a little like a mole emerging from a hole! Pack your sunglasses, to make life easier. Try a compact, budget pair just in case they get crushed, lost, or stolen.
Tissues. You can guarantee there will never be any available when you want them, so have a little packet in your carry on.
Water Bottle. Always a life saver, no matter where you travel to.
Pen. If you need to fill in immigration forms on the plane, you’re not going to be able to get a pen easily from the air host/hostess, because everyone else will be asking for the same thing! Get ahead of the game and pack your own.
A stash of your favorite magazines. Whether you’re into gossip magazines, the serious news, or something in-between, head to the newsagent at the airport and stock up on magazines to enjoy during the flight. You’ll be pleased to have this in flight travel entertainment if there’s nothing to watch.
Deodorant. We’re in no way insinuating that you smell, but everyone is a little less fresh when they’ve been on a long-distance flight! Pack a small deodorant to help you feel fresh when you land. Definitely an important part of any long haul flight essentials kit.
Small hairbrush. Everyone has bed-hair during a flight, but packing a brush is a fabulous way to avoid feeling self-conscious when you land.
Refreshing eye drops. Be careful of the 100ml liquid rule here, but eye drops do tend to come in a small bottle anyway. You will feel much more awake and refreshed if you have some handy eye drops in your cabin bag. Check out these Optrex Dry Eye Drops.
Travel umbrella. If you’re headed to cold, rainy weather, don’t forget this.
Carry On Bag. I suggest the Bluesmart Smart Carry-On Travel Luggage. Ever wondered if your carry-on or checked luggage will meet the weight limits? Or realized your phone has no remaining charge, and not a single airport outlet is available? Ever reached your final destination, and your luggage is nowhere in sight? These are such common travel frustrations, and all have been solved by this nifty luggage brand. The Bluesmart Carry On Luggage has a built-in scale to let you know its weight, 3G, and GPS capabilities to track it’ location should it ever go missing, and a USB recharging dock for all of your devices! Leave the hassle of luggage behind with this new, connected, smart carry-on.
Important Stuff Not To Forget On Your Long Haul Adventure
These airplane travel essentials are vital and don’t need any explanation at all. Be sure to check and double-check these international flight essentials before you leave home.
- Visa information
- Boarding passes & itinerary
- Hotel booking vouchers
- Travel insurance documents
- Purse/wallet with bank cards and money
- Phone and/or laptop
Your Carry On Packing List To Help You Travel Lighter
Almost without exception, as soon as you book a vacation, the dreaded packing thoughts set in. With more airlines doing away with their first-bag-flies-free policies, checking bags has become more and more expensive. Gone are the days of throwing everything and the kitchen sink into a huge suitcase very willy nilly and only wearing a quarter of it all when you’re on your trip.
Let’s get it straight; what you really need to focus on is what you are trying to pack into the carry on in the first place. Then you can watch YouTube clips on how best to roll your clothes. Wink.
With a couple of these essential tips and tricks, you can quickly slim down your carry on and be on your way to your vacation with less stress. This comprehensive packing list is all you need for your hand luggage. Be sure to tick it off as you go!
Start With Air Travel Necessities
There are things you literally can not leave behind. A good example is underwear. Set aside everything that is absolutely necessary, and no, that doesn’t mean your seven pairs of shoes. Passports, money, underwear, and medication should all be packed first. (Remember the list of plane trip essentials above?)
Think about what to wear on your travel day. Once you have that sorted, think about what to bring with you on board and triple check you have those super-duper important travel documents and cash, as well as the other plane travel essentials mentioned earlier.
Check The Weather
Save time, stress, and space by simply checking the weather where you’re going. If your destination is freezing cold or steaming hot, leave the clothes for the opposite conditions at home. If you’re headed to Croatia in summer, you don’t need a warm jacket. If you’re heading to the Alps, leave the shorts behind. If the place you’re heading is rainy this time of year, bring your rain jacket.
Ask Locals What To Pack In Your Carry on
So what if the weather forecast says sunny skies? Ask a local about what that time of year is like. Perhaps it’s known for afternoon showers, and you’ll need to save space for a light jacket. By asking a local, they’ll suggest the must-have travel items you need in your carry on. Look for travel bloggers (like me) who’ve been there and done that, and have useful, first-hand tips for that country.
Pick Practical Pieces
It’s easy to start throwing anything and everything that you sometimes wear into the suitcase pile, but you should whittle that down to the practical items. Choose solid colors or simple patterns that can be mixed and matched to make multiple outfits from a few pieces.
Make sure you are comfortable in the clothes you choose. If you don’t wear it at home, you’re not going to wear it on vacation. Leave things at home that can only be worn for one occasion, such as huge heels or big boots. This is one of the best travel tips for long haul flights and extended trips. Seriously.
Also, pick fabrics that are easy to take care of on the road. Leave clothes that are dry clean only or that require heavy ironing. You don’t want to waste precious vacation time worrying about your wardrobe.
Do pack one or two more jazzy items to help keep the personality in your outfits, make you feel beautiful, and make you look back at the pictures and not cringe.
Slim Down On The Toiletries
Leave your expensive shampoos and conditioners at home. Most hotels and cruise lines will have shampoo, soap, and many other necessities in your room. And if not, you can buy it locally.
By cutting down on the liquids you bring, you will save time at the security line at the airport, reduce stress caused by products leaking in your suitcase, and ultimately save money from not having to buy travel size products.
For the cosmetics and toiletries that you have to pack in your carry on, try to find concentrated or solid/powder versions of them to eliminate the leak possibility and take up less space. You could also get a toiletries pack. One like this flat design allows you to pack it right on top of your duffel bags, saving space and hassle while on the go.
Or, if you want something smaller, then this, Travelling Light Zip Top Pouch by Sea to Summit. If you’re a regular traveler you no doubt understand the issue of toiletries, perfumes and other liquid items and how to store them safely and effectively. Taking large bottles can be space consuming, and that’s where this particular product comes in very handy!
This is a medium-sized zip-top pouch that is large enough to fit in four toiletry bottles. The pack also comes with four included silicone bottles which can be used and refilled with whatever you need. The pouch itself can also be used for many other purposes and it has a 1-litre space capacity, with a zipper to the top section which is strong and secure. The pouch is also waterproof, so no worries about leakage.
Pack With Layers In Mind
For those destinations where the weather is on the edge of warm and chilly, it can be really challenging to bring the right clothes. Pack layering options, and you’ll have to pack less and be prepared for more. Pick tank tops, shirts, and cardigans or light jackets that can be mixed and matched for a hot day that turns into a chilly evening.
We love Anatomie travel clothes like these pants, as they are light, roll up quickly, and are perfect for all-weather types.
Use Packing Cubes
Packing cubes save you so much time and stress when it comes to keeping your things organized. Probably the best carry on packing tip as they help you also stay organized!
You can either pack items by outfits or by type of clothes to help you get to what you need quickly and efficiently without having to claw through everything in your bag to get to a sweater. Easily overlooked, but these are some of the greatest air travel essentials you can possibly use.
Cut Down On Shoes
You really don’t need seven pairs of shoes for a weeklong trip. Keep it to two (max three) pairs of shoes in your carry on. Shoes take up a lot of space and add a lot of extra weight to carry on bags, which can be costly in the long run.
Keep your flying essentials limited to a pair of sneakers or walking shoes, a pair of sandals for warm weather or small boots for cold weather, and maybe one more pair of stylish slip-ons or low heels for dressier occasions is really all you ever need.
BONUS TIP: Wear the heaviest pair of shoes on the plane.
Prepare To Wash
If you pack less, your carry on will be lighter, and you can stuff more souvenirs inside on the way back. One way to pack lighter is to think about what can be washed while you’re on the road. You can easily wash socks and underwear in hotel rooms, and if you pack clothes that dry fast, that’ll help, too!
BONUS TIP: There are two travel products you can pack to help keep clothes clean and smelling nice:
It might seem odd, but this portable, 5oz washing machine is self-proclaimed as the “modern take on the old-fashioned washboard” and we love it!
Swap Your Pile Of Books For An e-Reader
This may be tough, as I know I too love flipping through a real book, but you’ll be so glad you did. The price of e-readers has plummeted in the last few years, making them super-affordable.
Max Out Your “Personal Item”
In addition to your one carry on bag, most airlines allow you to bring a personal item such as a backpack or purse on board. The best thing to do is to take a backpack and load as much as you can inside. Just remember only one bag can go above your head and the second under your feet. So, keep that in mind when choosing which personal item to take as carry on.
Bonus Packing Tips
Here are some other tips that’ll help you pack your carry on like a boss
- Know your airline weight limit. Essential, even 2kgs over, can cost you big!
- Roll, don’t fold. Rolling is far superior to folding. Rolled clothes take up much less space than folded ones.
- Buy a lightweight carry on bag like this one. Why waste precious kilos on the bag? Buy light!
Plus, Here is How You Can Beat The Jet Lag Once You Arrive
Even the best long haul flights can be fatiguing at times, but the primary concern has probably to do with jet lag. How do you avoid it? Well, you can’t completely, because you’re crossing time zones, but you can minimize it a little.
These are a few tips jet-lag-busting helpful hints:
- Get plenty of rest before you go, including a full night’s sleep
- Try and arrive at your destination during the daytime
- Have a break between flights. One-night stopovers are actually very useful for avoiding jet lag as much as possible
- Don’t drink!
- Avoid caffeine
- Avoid sleeping pills; they will only mess up your body clock
- Get up and move around the cabin as much as possible
- Make sure you eat three meals
- Avoid looking at the in-flight map; it will only make time go much slower!
- Set your watch to the time in the destination you’re arriving it, as this will help you adjust much quicker
- When you arrive, do not go to bed unless it is night time
So, now that you know everything about long haul travel essentials, all that’s left to say now is have a safe and comfortable flight. And enjoy your vacation!
More Packing List Help Is Here
We’ve also written packing lists about: