After years of travelling, I have mastered packing. I also have nailed carry-on packing and my long flight essentials.
I have been thinking about this time last year, sitting on a beach in Bondi with my sunglasses on and a drink in hand. But how did I get here? A bloomin’ long flight is what got me there!
When it comes to flying, you want things to run as smoothly as possible at the airport and on the plane. The last thing you want is to be stuck on a long flight feeling uncomfortable and underprepared.
That is a bad way to start your holiday or trip away. We all know, your holiday starts at the airport so you want to make sure you start it in the best possible way. Making this happen begins at home before you even get to the airport.
So the next time you are imprisoned in a metal tube travelling thousands of miles above the earth just follow these simple tips for surviving a long-haul flight…
Preparing for your Trip
I have always hated flying so it was to a big surprise when I fell in love with travel because I knew flying was not one of the strongest moments in my journeys. Now I simply put up with the plane bit in order to experience the journey itself!
Over the years, I’ve learned a few survival tips to help make the painful long-haul flight process slightly better. I have tried and tested so many tips and tricks, in my quest to find the best essentials for long flights.
It’s important to remember that preparations for your flight begin before you even get to the airport. You could of course upgrade, or pay extra for more legroom, but realistically we can never justify the expense and instead go for basic economy.
In this guide, I’ve listed all my recommend long flight essentials you should always remember to pack in your carry on.
However, not all long-haul flight have to be miserable and there are certain things you can do to make the flight more enjoyable and stay feeling fresh.
Planning Your Journey
For any trip, you need to plan ahead your essentials for long flights.
1. Prepare Your Documents
A simple but important step. Stop the fumbling in your bag looking for your passport and boarding pass. Allocate a place in your hand luggage to keep all your important documents together. Save time and stress even more by having a designated person to be in charge of these details if you are travelling as a group. Get this lone right as its the most important long flight essential!
2. Dress comfortably
It’s not a fashion show, you will likely be sat down for long periods so you want to be comfortable. Choose comfy footwear you know you will be able to stand to have on your feet for long periods, either sitting or walking to your terminal or connections. Avoid wearing flip flops or similar when flying.
Consider laying up for your flight. Temperatures on board can swing from being hot or cold. So layering your clothing will enable you to be ready for a range of different temperatures. Store any excess layers in your hand luggage.
3. Pack Properly
Designate sections if you have them in your carry on. Use it to store a blanket, eye mask, pillow and your electronics. Organise everything you pack in a way that allows you to easily access what you need without having to fully unpack to find something.
4. Charge Electronics
Don’t rely on outlets on the plane to charge your devices. Have them charged up in advance. either at home or at the airport. Especially if you are using it to work during your flight or watch movies or read. Another great tip is to use WiFi to download any movies you want to watch or books you want to read before you get on the plane.
Sure, some planes do have internet access, but this isn’t always guaranteed or reliable. So be ready before you board the plane so as not to be disappointed.
5. Pack a Reusable Drinks Bottle
Flying is dehydrating, however, stocking up on drinks at the airport can be expensive. Beat this charge by taking an empty reusable drinks bottle with you. We all know you can’t take liquids through security but you can take an empty bottle and refill at drinking stations if they are available at the airport. This is something you can check ahead of time so as not to be caught out.
Flying long haul is so incredibly bad for our health and many of us really don’t understand why. Whether it is dehydration, tired muscles, deep vein thrombosis, lack of sleep and jet lag are just a few of the consequences of flying. But is you prepare yourself, get organised and follow some of these tips, it will make flying much easier on both the brain and the body. Make sure you stay hydrated above anything else whilst flying. A must-have essentials for long flights.
Quadruple the amount of water you intake both before and during the flight – take an empty bottle with you and ask your flight attendants to fill it up throughout the flight.
Top tip: don’t drink alcohol on the flight – it will dehydrate you even more!
6. Get comfortable
When it comes to surviving flights gadgets and gear really can make a difference. Whether it is an eye mask, neck pillow, headphones, earplugs or flight socks. They may be added weight but if you really want to get comfortable, relax and arrive looking fresh these small additions may be your saving grace.
Also, remember to wear layers and comfy trousers! Get an aisle seat or exit row so you can get up and walk around whenever possible. A must-have essentials for long flights.
7. Escape to another world
When you travel long haul make sure you use the time to truly escape from reality. Get a schedule for your eight hours, decide on the films you want to watch, how many chapters you want to read in your book and listen to some classical music.
It is also the perfect time to blank out and really escape the troubles you leave at departures. Getting a lot of work done is fine but it is rare in life that you may have eight consecutive hours in one stint where you can sit back, relax and escape. A book really is a must-have hand luggage essentials.
8. Upgrade (if possible)
If you can, then do it! When travelling long-haul it is always worth asking when you check in about being upgraded to business or first class. Or if you travel a lot then there is no better time to use your frequent flier miles than when going long haul. The extra legroom, comfort and service make for a more enjoyable eight hours. This is the ultimate airplane essentials.
Make sure you get some sleep – but also don’t board the plane having slept for two minutes the night before as it is unlikely you’ll step off the plane feeling refreshed from an eight-hour flight having slept the entire way. Also, bring your own neck pillow, it will really save yourself from neck cramp the day after.
However, if you don’t sleep well on planes and you know you need to get some rest make sure you consider sleeping aids before the slight. Plan ahead and if you are planning to use sleep aids try them before you fly with them. Sleeping aids can vary greatly in how they affect individuals, so try them at home before you rely on them on the plane.
10. Travel light
As the prices of carry on baggage goes up, many are dodging the check-in cost and taking the full 10kg hand luggage with an added handbag. But on a long flight, this is not only rarely an option but it also has consequences for the traveller.
Anything that you take with you either goes under the seat in front of you and ruins your chances of a stretch mid-flight and if you put it up in the locker, you probably won’t get anything out of it for eight hours because it’s too much hassle. A must-have essentials for long flights.
Carry On Luggage
For every flight you take, you will be allowed a carry on bag or suitcase. This is your opportunity to make the most of carry-on essentials, by maximising what you can take on board with you.
But also bear in mind that most of the time you will be cramming your knees into a tight seat, so you want your bag to go in the overhead storage so it doesn’t take up precious legroom.
There are of course some options: backpack, handbag, laptop bag, or small suitcase. All have pros and cons and really depends on the trip you are heading on.
Long Flight Essentials
After decades of constant flying and non-stop travel around the world, hand luggage packing has become my forte. I can pack my hand luggage with my eyes closed, but hey, that doesn’t mean I haven’t learnt as I went along. This airplane essentials will keep you sane during your long flights.
Trust me there have been times where I’ve pack countless items of clothing, a gazillion magazines, and a faulty pair of headphones.
The list of long flight essentials is endless, but here are some of my favourites.
What you pack in your hand luggage can have a huge effect on your overall experience when flying. Therefore, I’ve popped together a post all about the essential items I pack in my hand luggage, both practical and stylish.
- Neck Pillow – Most long-haul airlines will have neck supports in the chair, but for some reason, my head still manages to fall to the side so I still take a neck pillow of my own for comfort.
- Noise-cancelling headphones – Keeping both the audio in and the noise out. Perfect also for sleeping as it will block out everyone around you.
- Giant scarf/shawl – Acts just like a blanket, and can keep you warm during the flight. Most airlines will give you a blanket but often they’re itchy and irritating!
- Laptop and camera – I keep these items with me at all times – I never tend to do any work on the flight, but I couldn’t cope with life if I lost either of them.
- Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream – Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream 50 ml is a ‘must-have’ in makeup bags around the world. Deeply moisturising and richly nourishing, perfect for flying long haul and keeping your skin silky smooth. A must-have essentials for long flights.
- A pen – For the pesky immigration cards, or landing cards. However, also worth noting keep it somewhere handy, as I always pack one but can then never find it.
- Tisserand Pulse Point Roller Ball – Travel Survival Kit – This Tisserand rollerball kit contains three essential blends to help support your mood whilst travelling, whether for business or pleasure. The bottles are small enough to carry with you throughout your trip to help you deal with the various stresses of getting from ‘A’ to ‘B’.
- Multi-vitamins and painkillers – Worth to keep with you, so you can hit the ground running when you land on the other side.
- Eye mask – just in case you end up in a seat near the toilet or next to a passenger who reads for the whole flight. An ultimate hand luggage essentials.
- Outfit change – Much like why I take my laptop with me, you should take an outfit change (just in case your hold luggage gets lost.) If you’re on a long flight you may also want to shower at your stop off and change outfits.
Other long flight essentials
- SNACKS SNACKS!
- Baby wipes
- Lip Balm
Another airplane essentials, which you need before you even book your trip to you need to make sure you’ve got travel insurance for your trip! Travel insurance is essential for anyone heading anywhere in the world.
I would advise holidaymakers to ensure they are buying a policy that is suitable for their needs and to not just opt for the cheapest one. Generally, the cheaper the policy the less it will cover. A trip around the world or even your annual vacation is going to cost a lot so you need to make sure you are covered.
Generally, travel insurance companies will only cover cancellation for a limited number of reasons so look for one that offers cancellation for any cause – just in case! A must-have essentials for long flights.
At the Airport
Lounge Access with Priority Pass
Wherever you are flying, it’s likely you will spend a lot of time at the airport, and if you are anything like my mother you will be there six hours ahead of check-in (seriously). This is why you need these hand luggage essentials.
In which case you want the start of your journey to begin smoothly, and I would 100% recommend visiting a lounge. I really love being able to go to a place, where you know there will be seating, plugs, wifi, good and toilets.
I’ve spent so many nights and days at airports all around the world and has travelled to New Zealand, I have experienced a hell-on-earth flight which lasted nearly 48 hours. And my only saving grace was getting to go to lounges on the route.
Sometimes you may be able to get lounge access through whoever you are flying with, as some airlines have dedicated lounges to customers flying with them. I have experienced this when flying to the Middle East, with airlines such as Qatar and Emirates.
I used to think lounge access was only for the rich or were business travellers, or I immediately assumed they’d cost hundreds of pounds or were totally inaccessible to Joe Bloggs.
My first lounge experience was a few years ago when I was given lounge access on check-in, and ever since that experience I always hunt out the lounges at the airport whenever I am flying, no matter how long or short the trip. It is an ultimate long flight essential!
Because I fly so often and spend so much time travelling through airports, I decided last year to get Priority Pass. Priority Pass is the world’s largest independent airport lounge access program and gives you access to over 1,300 lounges in more than 600 cities across 148 countries.
The cost of the entrance to lounges depends on the type of membership you choose. Wherever your travel takes you, there’s almost certainly a Priority Pass lounge waiting.
If you travel frequently, I think it’s so worth it. I can easily spend over £20 when in the airport both on food and drink and then with the added luxury of showers toilets and/or outlets etc.
For me, I opted for the Standard Plus membership, which with a discount code I used at the time cost me £150 for one year and 10 visits. That’s £15 per visit, meaning I am saving £5-£10 each flight, based on my usual spending. A must-have essentials for long flights.
If Priority Pass is too expensive, then there’s Lounge Pass which lets you search through each airport for available lounges and book lounge access on the site directly. So then you just have to find your lounge and flash your booking confirmation when you arrive at the reception.
Are there any long flight essentials that I have missed? I’d love to know your hand luggage essentials. Let me know in the comments!
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