As a frequent traveler, I’ve had my fair share of flying. After several iterations of trying to make my flights as comfortable as possible, I think I’ve finally found what to take on a long haul flight to make it as pleasant as possible!
Have you ever been on a flight searching for earplugs you forgot to take with you while this baby behind you keeps on crying?
Well, that used to be me. Luckily, I know better now!
In this post, I present to you 23 carry on essentials for long haul flights that I always take with me. These are my absolute necessities when flying and will make your flight much more enjoyable for sure!
Plus, I’ll also share with you some other extra tips on how to survive these long haul flights at the end. Next time you fly, check this list and never forget anything essential anymore!
Let’s dive into it!
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Long haul flight essentials
To keep you busy
Taking a long haul flight will leave you exhausted… unless you can sleep on the plane! And what’s better than putting some earplugs in and forgetting about your surroundings to dive into a pleasant, undisturbed sleep?
Make sure you buy the right kind of earplugs though. I find wax earplugs much more enjoyable to sleep with than foam earplugs because they cause less irritation and are much softer!
2. Eye mask
The second essential item if you want to disappear into dreamland during your long haul flight is an eye mask. This will block all the light and together with your earplugs will make sure you’ll have a pleasant nap on the plane!
Make sure to find one that feels soft to your skin and don’t hesitate to look beyond the ultracheap eye masks! After all, this will determine whether you can fall asleep easily or not!
3. Headphones or earphones
For me, leaving on a flight without headphones or earphones is a total nightmare. I love to put some music on and reflect on the trip I’m making or life in general when staring at the clouds outside the tiny window.
Yet, I’ve been on flights where I forgot or lost my earphones and I can tell you, you’re getting bored waaay more easily!
So, just a reminder from me to you, don’t forget those earphones!
PS: I always use my wireless Jabra Evolve earphones which have amazing quality sound and voice!
4. Travel pillow
Another tool to make sure you have the best possible rest during your long haul flight is a travel pillow. These are easy to get and will make a huge difference when it comes to sleeping on a plane.
5. Downloaded movies/series/podcasts/ebooks
If you have a subscription such as Netflix or you love to listen to your favourite podcast, just download it beforehand and listen to it on the plane!
You’ll definitely need something to pass the time and downloading things beforehand will make sure you won’t get bored on your flight! This obviously also counts for ebooks!
The important stuff
6. Official/important documents
The idea is that you keep your important documents, such as your passport and flight ticket, as close to you as possible. Ideally, you have multiple copies in several bags and on your phone.
You’ll most likely need these documents very often when arriving at the airport so it’s most convenient to keep them in your carry on bag.
Although I prefer to have everything digital now (a.k.a. on my phone, in a digital wallet), it’s often a good idea to also keep a paper version with you, especially when you’re flying internationally.
7. Essential medication
In case of an emergency, it’s always advisable to have some medication ready. For the women reading this, you might want to take your pill with you on your long haul flight and some spare hygiene products.
However, be aware that you can’t go through airport security with massive amounts of drugs in your bag. Always declare to the security person that you take a small number of drugs with you, and only the essentials.
For example, the number one medication I always have with me is paracetamol for any unwanted headaches along the way.
8. A pen
It’s very likely that you’ll need to fill in some papers or sign something at the airport. And nothing is worse than having to use that one pen everyone uses to fill in those papers! Talk about a good way to spread a virus!
Therefore, make sure to put a pen in your bag, so that you can safely sign or fill in any papers you’ll have to!
9. Phone charger or power bank
When you plan on spending your flight time playing games on your phone, you better make sure you have your phone charger close to you!
In case you aren’t able to charge your phone on the plane (it happens) make sure to take a power bank with you. This can be a lifesaver in various different situations!
When buying a power bank pay attention to the number of times it can charge your phone, the size and the weight of the battery!
10. Spare clothes
There’s nothing more stressful than a bag that gets lost. Maybe you’ve experienced picking up your baggage only to notice it’s not where it’s supposed to be. Long phone calls back and forth finally inform you that your bag has not been boarded. So there you are, without clothes.
Always try to put one pair of spare clothes in your hand luggage! This will save you a lot of extra worries and money when you get problems with your checked luggage.
11. Multi-purpose scarf
You know those big, warm, cozy scarves to wear in winter? Well, take one of those in your hand luggage!
Outside the airport, they might function as a scarf, but inside the plane, you can easily use them as a blanket to make your long haul flight even more comfortable!
Together with your earplugs and eye mask, you’ll be set for a good flight nap!
12. Warm socks
If you’re on a really long flight, you might just want to take off your shoes and give your feet some space. To make this as comfortable as possible, take a pair of thick, cozy socks with you. This will ease you down on your long flight!
13. Comfortable pullover
Another element that helps me to feel comfortable on a flight is a cozy, warm and thick pullover that I can pull on. As it keeps you warm and protected from the plane’s air conditioning it provides the perfect conditions to fall asleep!
14. Mini toilet case
It can be incredibly refreshing if you can just brush your teeth between 2 long haul flights in! If you feel tired and sweaty, bringing a toilet case will make you able to refresh a little when you need it. Who says you need to look like a zombie after your flight?
Don’t forget to bring your deodorant in it as well!
15. Baby wipes
Yes, you’ve read that right. I do advise you to take baby wipes on your flight.
Why? Because this is an easy way to refresh yourself a little in-between two flights or after you’ve slept. These humid wipes will allow you to wash your face and maybe dip the sweat on possible other places so that you’ll feel brand new!
16. Lip balm
I don’t know about you, but I might just be a little addicted to lip balm. Yes, I cannot live one day without it.
But even if you’re not a regular user of lip balm this might come in handy in the plane as the air-conditioning there will make your lips and mouth much dryer than usual.
Because of the cold air cycling around the plane, your skin can easily get dry during a flight. For the same reason you need lip balm, you’ll also need moisturizer for your hands and maybe your face.
18. Hair ties
If you have a substantial amount of hair you know that it can sometimes be a bit disturbing to have it hung lose all the time. During your long haul flight, you’ll want to keep your hair in a good position so that it also looks at least a bit decent after you’ve slept and landed at your destination.
19. Refreshing candy
This one might be the odd one out, but there’s a very good reason why this should be on your list!
When the plane departs or lands there’s pressure building up in your ears. You probably know this feeling very well and know it’s not very pleasant.
One way to avoid this pressure building up is to gulp. Luckily, you’re doing this naturally when eating something or chewing gum. This is why it’s advisable to take something small and eatable with you (I prefer mints) to avoid that pressure!
And, of course, it’s just nice to have some sweets during your flight!
20. Refillable water bottle
While being up in the air, it’s very important to stay hydrated, which will lessen your jetlag a bit. This is why one of your hand luggage essentials for long haul flights should be a refillable water bottle!
You obviously can’t take a full water bottle through airport security so either make sure to drink all of it beforehand or bring an empty one. Most of the time, water from the tap will be drinkable and you can easily fill your bottle before jumping on your flight.
Pandemic flight essentials
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are some extras to add to your list of hand luggage essentials for long haul flights. If you want to put your health first, there are certain things you should definitely take with you in your carry-on!
21. Hand sanitizer
This will probably be available everywhere inside the airport, but when using alcoholic gel 20 times a day your hands get very dry and achy. Luckily, there exist less hostile hand sanitiser gels for your hands which are better than the standard ones.
If you take your own, you can make it much more agreeable for your hands. Moreover, extra hand sanitiser will come in handy when going to the toilet on your long haul flight or in situations where they’re out of gel at the airport.
22. Disinfectant wipes
Although the airplane should be cleaned before boarding, there’s no harm in being 100% sure and bringing your own disinfectant wipes to clean your seat and table an extra time when boarding.
This also applies to common areas at the airport or the toilet in the airplane. Better be safe than sorry!
23. Your fabric mask
You probably won’t get into the airport without it, so if you forget this, big trouble awaits!
Make sure you always have a spare mask with you and put a mask as a standard item in all your bags.
You’re probably wondering why I say “fabric” mask. Well, those are simply more environmentally friendly and will cost you way less than if you need to buy disposable masks every time!
Some extra tips
Your carry-on bag
Preparing for a long haul flight is more than just packing the right things in your carry-on bag. First of all, you need to find the right carry-on bag!
For this, it is incredibly important to check the guidelines of your airline company. These will generally specify how many bags you can take with you on the plane and the maximum size these bags can have.
Choosing the right carry-on bag also depends on your personal preferences. Some people like to take a backpack with them, others prefer a small suitcase. Whatever you choose is fine, as long as it is within the requirements of the airline you’re flying with.
My personal favourite bags to take on trips are these of Eastpak. After several years of using the Eastpak backpacks and luggage, I can really say they make quality products that you can use years and years after you’ve bought them.
For more in-depth info, check out my honest Eastpak luggage review!
How to dress
Picking the right clothes to wear during your long haul flight is of the highest importance. First of all, it should be something you’re comfortable in so you might want to skip those jeans.
Second, as there is often way too much air conditioning in planes and at the airport, wearing long sleeves and long trousers will be the best option. Yes, even if it’s super hot outside and you’re going to some tropical destination!
In case you don’t want to spend the whole journey in the same clothes, take some more comfortable or formal clothes with you in your carry-on luggage!
There are a lot of hand luggage essentials for long haul flights you’ll need to pack before boarding. Hopefully, this list gave you an idea of the most essential carry on items.
I’m wondering, is there anything missing from this list? Let me know below!