Long Haul Flight Essentials: Ten Must-Have Travel Items For Your Next Long Flight

Long haul flights represent the best and the worst of travel. The best part is that you are likely traveling to some far-off exotic place, while the worst part is that you are constrained to a narrow seat in a metal tube with 100’s of strangers for hours on end. Luckily, with a few long haul flight essentials, it’s possible to endure a long haul flight with minimal discomfort, even if you aren’t flying first-class!

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Based on my own experience with long flights, I’ve pulled together the key travel items you should pack in your carry-on to improve your experience. 

Long Haul Flight Essential #1: Neck Pillow

A good neck pillow is essential for staying comfortable on a long flight. Neck pillows come in many varieties, and it make take a bit of trial and error to find the one that works for you. Some of the options will include memory foam, micro-beads or inflatables. Neck pillow designs are moving beyond the traditional “U” shaped ring, as is the case with the Trtl pillow, which looks like a scarf, but has an internal support for your head and neck. 

I recommend: Cabeau Evolution, made with memory foam to support your neck, and it rolls up for easy storage.

Long Haul Flight Essential #2: Blanket Scarf

Temperatures on an airplane can fluctuate wildly, but generally things are kept pretty cool. It can be really hard to get any sleep if you are freezing cold, so bringing a scarf that doubles as a blanket is essential on a long flight. While some airlines still hand out blankets for long flights, the blankets aren’t necessarily washed between flights. An added bonus of bringing along a blanket scarf is that it can double as a fashion accessory to spruce up your travel wardrobe. 

I recommend: Cabeau fold and go or a cashmere scarf

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Long Haul Flight Essential #3: Eye Mask

Getting a bit of sleep on a redeye is key. Take a cue from the first class amenity kits - they all include an eye mask to help passengers get a few winks in before landing. Whether you are a light sleeper or not, covering your eyes from the cabin lights will help ensure you get a better rest. It’s also send a clear message to passengers around you that you’re not to be disturbed. 

I recommend: Cabeau Sleep Mask or 41 Winks Sleep Masks

Long Haul Flight Essential #4: Headphones

Once you’ve taken care of blocking out the light that might wake you, it’s also important to block out any noise that can keep you awake. There is nothing worse than a noisy neighbor or crying baby when you are trying to sleep. Noise-cancelling headphones, earbuds or just low-tech ear plugs will do the trick. Obviously, headphones serve a dual purpose if you want to listen to music, audio-books or movies.

I recommend: Bose Quiet Comfort headphones

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Long Haul Flight Essential #5: Entertainment

Chances are, you won’t sleep for the entire duration of your long-haul flight, especially if it’s a 12-hour + flight. You’ll need something to occupy your time when you’re not sleeping, so make sure you bring along a few entertainment options. First, check with your air carrier to see what’s offered in-flight. Many airlines offer free movies either in the seat-back display, or streaming through their phone app. A long haul flight is also a great opportunity to binge on some podcasts, listen to an audio-book, or read an actual book. If you don’t plan to pay for WiFi in-flight, make sure you download everything you need so it’s available offline. 

I recommend: Kindle Paperwhite Waterproof

Long Haul Flight Essential #6: Power Bank

Many airlines now offer power outlets at each seat, however many still don’t, and it can be hard to know what your options are going to be. Those that do aren’t always the fastest charging, and sometimes don’t work at all. Don’t leave yourself halfway into a 14 hour flight with no juice! Power banks are now very affordable, and very compact so you’re not wasting precious packing space.

I recommend: Anker Powerbank

Long Haul Flight Essential #7: Compression Socks

Compression socks are essential for any long haul flight. Not only can they reduce swelling and discomfort, compression socks can actually save your life! Sitting for long periods of time on an airplane can create life-threatening blood clots, especially in your legs. This is known and Deep Vein Thrombosis, and can be deadly. Compression socks help reduce the risk of DVT by increasing the circulation in your legs. 

I recommend: Sockwell, from the creators of SmartWool

Long Haul Flight Essential #9: Water Bottle

For every ten hours in the air, your body loses up to two liters of water! Staying hydrated is key to staying healthy and feeling good after a long haul flight. Don’t rely on the little cups handed out by the flight attendants every few hours. Make sure you have your own refillable water bottle with you. Many water bottles now include a filter, so you can drink tap water in every country, and reduce your use of single-use plastics.

I recommend: LifeStraw GoWater Filter

Long Haul Flight Essential #9: Snacks

Similar to having your own water supply, it’s always great to have a few snacks in your carryon bag. Easy options include nuts, crackers, trail mix or meal replacement bars. This saves you from having to stay awake waiting for the flight attendants to come by with food. You can sleep when you want, and snack when you want.
I recommend: WOLO BAR

Long Haul Flight Essential #10: Amenity Kit

Taking a cue from first class, consider what comes in the amenity kit, and put your own together. I like to have a small, stylish bag that contains my long flight essential amenities, and it’s always ready to go when I am. Here’s a few things I like to keep in my amenity bag:

    • Toothbrush and toothpaste - having clean teeth and fresh breath after a 14-hour flight can make you feel like a million bucks!

    • Pen - a long haul flight will inevitable involve customs forms. There’s nothing worse than desperately asking all of your neighbors if they have a pen. 

    • Hand sanitizer - planes are gross, you will want to be able to clean your hands prior to meal service. 

    • Moisturizers - hand lotion, lip balm and a facial moisturizer are all great things to have on a long haul flight, and a nice facial spritz can help you feel fresh before deplaning. 

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