hand luggage essentials for long haul flights

17 hand luggage essentials for long haul flights

Have you ever been on a flight searching for earplugs you forgot to take with you while this baby behind you keeps on crying?

Are you leaving on a long haul flight and wondering what you should absolutely take with you to make your flight as comfortable as possible?

In this post, I present you my 17 hand luggage essentials for long haul flights. These are my absolute necessities when flying and will make your flight much more pleasant for sure!

Next time you fly, check this list and never forget anything essential anymore!

Tip: I also included a separate section with COVID 19 flight essentials at the end.

Wondering what those 17 long haul flight essentials are? Read on to find out what to put in your carry on!

Not leaving on a long haul flight now? Pin this list for later!

List hand luggage essentials for long haul flights

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Long haul flight carry on essentials

#1 Earplugs

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 pleasant 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 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!

#4 Refillable water bottle

During your flight it’s very important to stay hydrated, this is will also 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.

#5 Downloaded movies/series/podcasts/ebooks

If you have a subscription like 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!

#6 Headphones

For me, leaving on a flight without headphones is a total nightmare. I love to put some music on and reflect on the trip I’m making/life when staring at the clouds outside the tiny window.

Yet, I’ve been on flights where I forgot/lost my headphones and I can tell you, you’re getting bored waaay more easily!

So, just a reminder from me to you, don’t forget those headphones!

#7 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!

#8 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.

Or not?

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.

#9 Multi-purpose scarf

You know those big, warm, cozy scarfs 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!

#10 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 for on the flight. This will ease you down on your long flight!

#11 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), it’s often a good idea to also keep a paper version with you, especially when you’re flying internationally.

#12 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.

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 amount of drugs with you, and only the essentials.

#13 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?

carry on in airport for long haul flight
Photo by Sergey Zolkin on Unsplash

Do you want to learn how to travel with less? Read my post about how to travel without baggage!

Corona 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!

#1 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 sanitizer 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 sanitizer 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.

#2 Disinfectant wipes

Although they should clean the airplane 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!

#3 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!

#4 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!


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 on this list? Let me know below!

Not leaving on a long haul flight now? Pin this list for later!

List hand luggage essentials for long haul flights

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10 thoughts on “17 hand luggage essentials for long haul flights”

  1. Yes, need it all to make that long flight as comfortable as possible. And a checklist is key, so we don’t forget a thing. Our last flight, I brought these little face sheet masks for my daughter and me for a quick “facial.” It was fun and passed some time away, plus we had a glow once we landed:)

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