Long Flight Essentials: Carry On Essentials For A Long Haul Flight

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A ton of carry on packing tips and long haul flight essentials. This extra-long post will help you travel like a boss!

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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 ensure 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 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 the carry-on packing tips I saw on YouTube and Facebook. There are arguments for rolling clothes and special folding techniques, stuffing things in shoes, and everything in between. But never fear; 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 that information here.
Part 1: What To Bring On A Long Flight – Essentials For Flying List
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Living in Australia my whole life meant I had to endure lengthy overnight international flights when I went to distant lands like Croatia.

Sydney’s journey 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. 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 to wear on a long haul flight, you can find that right here.

Hygiene Information – Be COVID-19 & Virus Safe For Long Haul Flights

What to wear on a long haul flight - Mask

Due to the coronavirus risk, long-haul flights have been made a little more troublesome (as have most things in life lately). The good news is that you can take a few measures to minimize your risk of contracting the virus (or any other virus for that matter) on a long haul flight while feeling fresh as a daisy simultaneously!

In this section, you’ll find a list of the things to take with you on a long haul flight, the best types to opt for, and why.

Antibacterial Wipes To Clean Your Seat Area. Wipes are easy to pack (still, take a bottle of hand sanitizer). You can easily store a couple of packs of antibacterial wipes in your bag or backpack, which will take up next to no space.

Make sure you opt for the ones that contain antiseptic and not the beauty types, as these will give you zero protection, although they’ll make your hands smell nice! You should also make sure you’re purchasing safe wipes on your skin to avoid rashes. 

Use the wipes to clean your seat, tray table, and belt buckle. You should also avoid using the same wipe for more than one thing, as you’re just transferring bacteria from one place to another. NEVER EVER use a wipe for your hands and then use it on your tray table – rookie mistake right there!

While it might not be particularly sustainable or cost-effective, it’s far better to use more rather than less in the current climate and protect yourself adequately. 

So, one wipe, for one thing, discard in a plastic bag and throw in the trash bag when it’s passed around.

Face Masks. Most airlines have made this voluntary. Please check directly with your airline before you leave home.

Be sure to bring several of these with you for the flight. If you’ve purchased a funky-looking face mask and plan to wash it, make sure you have a plastic zip-lock bag to place it in to avoid contaminating your main suitcase.

If you’re using a disposable one, check the guidance on how many hours it is safe to use – and be sure to throw your mask away at the required time. 

I suggest you opt for a multi-pack and keep them in your bag for your entire vacation. Most airlines say that the requirement is to wear them throughout the flight, but this may change as time passes – keep checking with your airline.

Make sure you wear the mask over your nose and mouth and not just your mouth – many people are doing this now, and it’s pointless. Yes, you can breathe better, as some masks can feel a little restrictive, but it’s not protecting you or anyone else around you; it’s like putting a diaper on a baby and only fastening one side – there will be leakage!

Protective Gloves. There is debate over whether or not to wear protective gloves, but it comes down to how you use them. You can buy a box of protective gloves pretty cheaply, but they’ll take up quite a lot of space in your hand luggage; perhaps pack a few pairs and put them in a small purse instead.

If you choose to bring these,  you should also not fall foul of the idea that you can touch your face just because you’re wearing gloves – you cannot. You will be touching surfaces; if you feel your face, you’re transferring germs directly to your skin. That’s not what you want to do, and in that case, what was the point of wearing gloves?

Personally, I feel that it is better to train yourself not to touch your face and wash your hands regularly; using antibacterial wipes when soap and water aren’t an option. You’ll save space that way and remember that the plane will be sanitized between passengers too. That said, I am no doctor or epidemiologist.

Comfort Essentials For Long Haul 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. Buy a padded and a little luxurious one to help you relax a bit more.

Ear plugs. You never know if you’ll be seated near a crying baby or someone carrying on a loud conversation. Ear plugs are a life-saver when you need some rest and need to tune out the rest of the noise on the plane.

Neck pillow. If you’re traveling alone or with other adults, you will want to sit down, relax, and chill the hell out. This might not be so easy if you’re traveling with children, but a neck pillow is an excellent way to find some comfort. Lightweight, easy to carry, and providing some welcome extra comfort, a neck pillow is one of the best things to bring on a long flight. These can usually be looped onto the outside of your cabin luggage, too, to save some space. 

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.

Scarf/small throw. The aircon on the flight might be a little chilly; in that case, a scarf or a small throw is the ideal way to keep warm.

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Entertainment Essentials For Long Haul Flights

Long Haul Flight Essentials

Kindle/E-Reader. Gone are the days of paperback books, and while you might still lament 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 and download all your books into your personal library.

Did you know that the least complicated Kindle e-readers cost just $79, making them 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.

Noise-canceling headphones. There is nothing worse than watching a film or listening 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. 

A stash of your favorite magazines. Whether you’re into gossip magazines, 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.

Health & Beauty Essentials For Long Haul Flights

Hand sanitizer. Let’s face it, airport and plane toilets are not the nicest, so make sure you have something to protect you against potential nasties. This is one of those genuinely 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 unmissable airplane travel necessities to avoid those patchy dry skin marks – unsuitable when you’re trying to get an even tan!

Lip balm. Again, you don’t want your lips drying out while you’re in mid-air.

Face wipes/wet wipes. Pick a multi-purpose wipe that removes makeup, freshens the skin, and gives your hands a nicer feel, and you’ll be good to go. As far as travel tips and essentials go, these things are convenient.

Tissues. You can guarantee there will never be any available when you want them, so have a little packet in your carry on.

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 tiny deodorant to help you feel fresh when you land—an important part of any long-haul flight essentials kit.

Toothbrush/Toothpaste. If your flight is overnight, having a toothbrush and toothpaste to freshen up with will make all the difference!

Small hairbrush. Everyone has bed hair during a flight, but packing a brush is fabulous to avoid feeling self-conscious when you land.

Refreshing eye drops. Be careful of the 100ml liquid rule here, but eye drops 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.

TSA-Approved Clear Toiletry Bag. Drop all these beauty essentials in an already-approved TSA bag to keep moving through security easily.

Find Our Favorite TSA Approved Bag Set Here


Miscellaneous Essentials For Long Haul Flights

Portable battery bank. Whether you have an iPhone or an Android device, the last thing you want to happen is run 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 laptop, if applicable.

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/Chewing Gum. If you suffer from slight travel nausea, a mint or a piece of gum is an excellent suggestion to remove that unpleasant feeling while freshening up your mouth mid-flight.

Snacks. Granola bars, cereal bars, trail mix, and other snacks are great to have for in-between meal time hunger.

Sunglasses. When you get off the plane, you’ll probably feel 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.

Change of clothes. If your flight is overnight or if you are traveling to a destination with completely different weather than your starting location, a change of clothes is great to have so you can get comfortable before you land.

Water Bottle. Always a lifesaver, no matter where you travel to. We especially love how much space we save with collapsible water bottles when traveling!

Pen. If you need to fill in immigration forms on the plane, you’ll be unable 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.

Travel umbrella or lightweight rain jacket. 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 realize 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 common travel frustrations, and this nifty luggage brand has solved them all. The Bluesmart Carry On Luggage has a built-in scale to let you know its weight, 3G and GPS capabilities to track its’ location should it ever go missing, and a USB recharging dock for all your devices! Leave the hassle of luggage behind with this new, connected, smart carry-on.

This is the other (and much cheaper) carry on bag we own.

Important Documents & Personal Items For Long Haul Flights

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These airplane travel essentials are vital and don’t need any explanation. Check and double-check these international flight essentials before you leave home.


Part 2: Tips To Pack Your Carry On For Long Haul Flights
Almost without exception, the dreaded packing thoughts set in as soon as you book a vacation. 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; you really need to focus on 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!

1. 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; that doesn’t mean your seven pairs of shoes. (Remember the list of plane trip essentials above?) passports, money, underwear, and medication should all be packed first.

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 travel essentials for long flights mentioned earlier.

2. What To Pack For A Long Flight – First, Check The Weather

Save time, stress, and space by simply checking the weather where you’re going. Knowing what to pack for a long flight is made easier when you know what the temperature will be at your destination. 

If your destination is freezing or steaming hot, leave the clothes for the opposite conditions at home. You don’t need a warm jacket if you’re headed to Croatia in the summer. If you’re heading to the Alps, leave the shorts behind. Bring your rain jacket if the place you’re heading is rainy this time of year.

3. Ask Locals What To Pack On A Long Flight 

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 helpful, first-hand tips for that country.

4. 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 look back at the pictures and not cringe.

5. 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 into your suitcase, and ultimately save money from not having to buy travel-size products.

For the cosmetics and toiletries,  you must pack in your carry-on and try to find concentrated or solid/powder versions to eliminate the possibility of leaks 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.

If you’re a regular traveler, you undoubtedly 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! Or, if you want something smaller, then this, Travelling Light Zip Top Pouch by Sea to Summit.

What To Wear On A Longhaul Flight _ Sea To Summit

This medium-sized zip-top pouch 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 can also be used for many other purposes, and it has a 1-liter space capacity, with a zipper to the top section, which is solid and secure. The pouch is also waterproof, so there are no worries about leakage. 

6. Pack With Layers In Mind

Women's Pants_Best Travel Pants for Women_COVER

It can be challenging to bring the right clothes for those destinations where the weather is on the edge of warm and chilly. Pack layering options; you’ll have to pack less and be prepared for more. Pick tank tops, shirts, cardigans, or light jackets that can be mixed and matched for a hot day turn into a chilly evening.

7. Use Packing Cubes

CabinZero packing cubes

Packing cubes save you time and stress when keeping your things organized. Probably the best carry on packing tip as they help you 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 use.

8. Cut Down On Shoes

Startas Made in Croatia Shoes

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. Please keep it to two (max three) pairs of shoes in your carry on. You don’t need seven pairs of shoes for a weeklong trip.

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 couple of stylish slip-on shoes or low heels for dressier occasions is all you ever need.

BONUS TIP: Wear the heaviest pair of shoes on the plane.

9. 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 on the road. You can easily wash socks and underwear in hotel rooms, and if you pack clothes that dry fast, that’ll help!

BONUS TIP: There are two travel products you can pack to help keep clothes clean and smelling nice:

1. Travel-size Febreze

2. Scrubba Portable Laundry System Wash Bag

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!


10. Swap Your Pile Of Books For An e-Reader

This may be tough, as I know I, too, love flipping through an actual 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.

11. 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 a purse, on board. The best thing to do is take a backpack and load as much as possible inside. 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.

12-14. 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 probably has to do with jet lag. How do you avoid it? Well, you can’t ultimately 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 whole night’s sleep
  • Try and arrive at your destination during the daytime
  • Have a break between flights. One-night stopovers are 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 make time go much slower!
  • Set your watch to the time in the destination you’re arriving at, as this will help you adjust much quicker
  • When you arrive, do not go to bed unless it is nighttime

So, now that you know everything about long-haul travel essentials, all that’s left to say now is to have a safe and comfortable flight. And enjoy your vacation!

Now that you know what to bring on a long flight, we hope all your plane essentials fit in your carry on and that your plane travel is comfortable and uneventful.

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