Carry on Essentials for Long Haul Flights Packing Tips
Are you dreading a long haul flight? Don’t! We are here to walk you through the process and make your travel smooth and easy. We have been traveling for 16+ years which also includes long haul flights of 28- 30 hours long. Yes! More than a day-long, especially the ones where you have 2-3 connecting flights to arrive at your desired destination. This list of carry on essentials for long haul flights is curated with a lot of travel experience that we have gathered over the years.
Our travel experience includes moving between states in India, moving to Canada (from India) 11+ years ago, moving within Canada (and Canada is the second-largest country in the world, so a lot of ground space to cover) to take long flights to Europe in the recent years; we have experienced it all. So without further ado, let’s get started.
Carry on Essentials for Long Haul Flights – Packing Tips
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Long flight essentials
This list of long flight essentials are organized in the following sections
- Preparation for Travel
- Basics, but essentials – Packing for a flight
- Inside your Carry-on
- Activities – in-flight and at the airport
- Long haul flight outfit – What to wear on a long flight?
Preparation for travel essentials carry on – Long Haul Flights
Check your travel dates and flights
The most important step for preparing for your trip is to ensure you have the RIGHT travel dates. Double-check the airport information (if your city has 2 airports) and departure time.
Set a reminder (alert) if you have to pre-book an airport taxi, ahead of your travel date. Inform close friends/family about travel. Would you need someone to house-sit or drop off an extra set of house keys?
Get a carry-on
Get a sturdy and comfortable carry-on that you can use for years to come. It is a GOOD idea to invest in a great carry-on. Remember this bad boy will be with you all through the flight and you don’t want the straps to fall off because its flimsy or because you overfilled it. It should also be able to run through multiple screening tunnels (aka rollers). Trust me, it is a good investment if you travel often.
Depending on your bag choice, you can choose a tote, a trolley, a day pack or a backpack. Salil and I prefer backpacks as they are hands-free. They are handy when you go to the washroom or even when you line up at customs/immigration. We also use trolleys – they are our close second choice for carrying on bags. Here are some of our favorites and suggested recommendations
Pacsafe Metrosafe Anti-theft backpack – Anti-theft backpacks are your BEST friend when you travel (especially if you are traveling to Europe). They make for a great travel companion – sturdy and easy on the shoulders. The Pacsafe Metrosafe 45 liter is the backpack we recommend to carry your essentials and more. It is a good size backpack to store your documents, mid-size camera, 1-2 pair of clothes, small electronics, cosmetics, and even a 15-inch laptop.
We have carried all of our essentials in backpacks whether it is travel to France, Iceland, Cuba or the USA. And this backpack has tons of storage space, in neat compartments to keep your essentials organized. It also comes with cut-proof material, lockable zippers and an RFID blocking to the pocket to keep your credit cards and IDs safe.
SwissGear Sion 21″ – Whenever we travel for business, we prefer carrying a carry-on suitcase/trolley. This Swiss Gear Sion 21 inch carry on is very spacious and can hold a lot. It is lightweight and has wheels, making it super easy to carry along at the airport. Being light, anyone (me included) can haul that to the cabin top compartment and bring it down with ease. On our last trip to India, Salil and I were able to pack 2-3 days worth of clothes, important documents, and cosmetics in this carry-on.
- Women Backpack Purse (Convertible Casual Travel Shoulder Bag) – This is for girls only! I used to carry something like this when I traveled solo. It is a backpack but has straps so you can carry it as a shoulder bag as well – so very versatile. The mouth opening of the bag is very generous, so you can even stow large items or a big scarf inside it. It is not as roomy as the Pacsafe Metrosafe Anti-theft bag, but it is big enough to hold the carry on essentials. This Women Backpack Purse & Convertible can carry magazines, cosmetics, large side iPad, scarf, mirror-less cameras, etc.
Read how to choose the BEST anti-theft carry-on backpack
Get insurance for your trip
We recommend insuring your trip at all times. We personally do that, especially on long flights. Travel insurance covers unexpected delays, lost baggage, medical emergencies, repatriation of remains, etc. Insure your trip at all times. Here is a handy website to get insurance quotes.
Don’t forget to print a copy to carry on your trip (or save the email with the PDF attachment of insurance confirmation).
Download apps to track flights
Download these handy apps aka power resources for your travels.
- Flight Aware – Flight Aware is an app to track flights. It sends live alerts for delayed flights and cancellations, etc
- TripIt – Use Trip It to plan your trip itinerary and activities. It also includes flight alerts.
- XE.com – Our favorite currency converter app. XE.com is a must-have if traveling overseas, very handy whether you use cash or credit cards.
- Google Maps and/or Maps.me (offline maps)
- Entertainment – Netflix (requires subscription), iTunes for music, some games if you like, Kindle app (for e-books)
Basics, but MUST require long haul flight essentials – Passport, ID, Wallet Organizer
These are your ULTIMATE travel essentials. You probably can’t travel if you miss a few of these listed items.
- Passport – Carry your passport. Check the expiry date and see if any travel visa is required. Make photocopies and keep it, in your awesome carry on bag.
- Additional Photo IDs – Some airports require additional photo IDs for travelers over 18 years of age. Carry your permanent resident card/ green card, driver’s license or any photo ID with your name and date of birth on it.
- Get Insurance confirmation. Here is a handy website to get insurance quotes.
- Carry cash and/or travel credit cards.
- Passport holder + Wallet – Keep them organized in a passport holder + wallet. This document holder can carry a passport, multiple credit cards, and bills. It comes with RFID block protection. You can also stow your phone in the front pocket.
Inside your Carry-on – What to take on a long haul flight?
Now that we got the MAJOR and important stuff out of the way, it is now time to fill your carry-on. Customize it, make it your own and OMG yay! you are gearing up for your trip. How exciting! This list includes all the things we carry and some additional items (like a contact lens, eyeglasses. We don’t use any). So let’s get started.
Take the following things to make flying more comfortable.
Compression socks are a lifesaver in LONG haul flights. It helps reduce fatigue and swelling in the lower leg. This pair is a best-seller and helps augment blood circulation and comfort in long flights. They are also unisex.
I don’t travel without a neck pillow (or sleep pillow). Whether it is a short or long flight, this is MY item, that I need on my flights. (I love to sleep when we take off/fly. I also nap in trains, so this is important). This is the one I use and it’s blue. I had this for 3+ years. Salil has the same one in black.
If you have a hard time sleeping in flight, carry an eye mask. They work wonders, some people say. You go to use it to know if it’s your thing, while in flight. This eye mask comes in different colors and is silky soft.
Blanket Scarf is my GO-TO item. I carry a blanket scarf with me at all times. The AC inside the aircraft can drop sometimes, with a blanket scarf you can stay warm and toasty. The scarf can also refresh an outfit as you go out and about exploring. Blanket scarves come in different colors – I have a few of these in red/beige, and beige/black combination.
Pullover or light jacket
A cardigan or a pullover is a great choice to keep you warm and toasty in the skies. When the A/C is blasting, it can get colder up there, carry a pullover with you. You will be thankful. Here is my favorite one.
Another option is to wear or carry a light (preferably wind/waterproof) jacket with you. This is handy if you are traveling to a destination where rain is common. We like using Columbia or North Face jackets for that.
The water-proof jacket from Columbia for men is a great choice as its lightweight. They also have options for wind-proof jackets for women, they are pack-able for travel as well. The Columbia Arcadia jackets for women come in a variety of colors too. Sky blue is my favorite.
Carry an empty water bottle – Go with large size like this one, which is also free of BPA.
Carry a small bag of dry fruits/nuts or health bar (snack). This is super handy is you are traveling on early morning flights and stores aren’t open or there is a big line -up at the store and you hardly have any minutes to spare.
- Eyeglasses, contact lens and lens solution
- Sunglasses – We carry our sunglasses in our carry-on too. I am currently in love with my Rayban Erika and Salil owns a pair of Rayban Aviators. Both in dark colors.
Entertainment and best travel accessories for long flights – Books, tablet, e-reader, cell-phone & more
- Books and/or magazines – Carry travel guides, books or magazines to kill time at the airport and in-flight.
- Notebook and pen – This is always a handy notebook and a pen. You would always need a pen to fill out customs cards.
- e-Reader – Can carry thousands of e-books, without being bulky. I have an amazon kindle e-reader. We also store PDF files on it and the battery life is incredible, can last for days without charging.
- Tablet – Samsung Galaxy Lite and iPad Mini are our favorite tablets. They are lightweight and they take great pictures too.
- Cell phone – I don’t go anywhere without my iPhone. So don’t forget to carry yours – charge it to 100% the night before you travel.
Noise Canceling Headphones
Don’t forget to carry headphones. Airlines have started charging for them nowadays. So get a good quality, noise cancellation headphones that you can carry for years. These headphones from Bose are great and are comfortable/easy on the ear.
Carry a universal adapter on your overseas flights. The electric ports and volts are different in different countries/continents. We use something similar to this one.
This charging cable that I am going to recommend to you is a GAME CHARGER. A few years ago, when I was working as a Retail Manager, I saw and used this set of charging cables and they were AWESOME. This multi-charger has both micro USB (for Salil’s android phone, Sony camera, Tablet charging) and a lightning cable (for my iPhone) – all in ONE.
Take a look – this is a super cable and a space saver. If you require multiple cables, there is an option here, that comes with a docking station as well.
Battery back up/juice or power bank
Carry a battery back up. This is super handy when no wall outlets are in sight or all are in use. It has multiple USB ports.
We love our Sony Alpha mirrorless camera – it is powerful, without being bulky. Easily carry over your neck – so lightweight. That’s why it always finds a place in our carry-on.
Cosmetics & Toiletry – flight essentials packing list
Here are cosmetic and toiletry travel essentials for the plane and they are super important in-flight and on arrival (yes, we are getting there!)
Note: All liquid cosmetics should fit in a 1-liter transparent pouch. Opt for travel sizes of 10 ml to 50 ml items or refillable containers to breeze through security. Purchase a cosmetic bag/pouch to store all liquids in a carry-on
- Deodorant or Perfume – Carry a travel-sized deodorant or perfume. One of my faves – YSL travel size perfume
- Facial Mist or Spray – Facial mists are god-sent – they energize and refresh your skin like no other. You can also use this to clean makeup 🙂 Here are 2 of my faves – Aglow Face Mist (this one comes in a 10 ml size – perfect for small purses on the go) and Elixir from Caudalie in mini size
- Toothbrush, toothpaste and mini mouth wash
- Hand sanitizer and hand lotion
- Facial wipes. My fave from Sephora
- Makeup Kit – Lip gloss or lip balm, eye pencil, compact powder. Get my travel make up guide
- Other essential items for her – Tampons, liners, hair ties
Medicine for long flights
These health and medical items will help you fly easily. These are some common OTC drugs that frequent flyers use and we have found them to be beneficial. (This is not a medical prescription, if you have serious health concerns, please consult your physician).
- Gravol – For people who experience nausea or dizziness while taking off or landing, can use Gravol
- Pain killer – Don’t forget to carry OTC pain killers.
- sleeping pills or sleeping aid like Melatonin
- digestive pills – Plane food is not the greatest. But you shouldn’t go hungry either, so eat a little, but ensure you are hydrated. Drink lots of water.
- antacids for acidic stomach
- other medication as needed
Activities at the airport and in-flight – How to survive a long haul flight
Now that we got all the items and lists out of the way, let’s get into the FUN stuff. Don’t hate us, if we say we LOVE airports and flights. Long haul flights don’t bother us at all. Here is what we normally do and we hope this inspires you to bravely arrive at the airport and FLY easy.
Surviving long haul flights
Be prepared. We always arrive ahead of time and are prepared with our documentation, especially when it is a long flight. We check-in as soon as we arrive – for most international flights airport check-in is essential for some carriers or if you require a visa.
Once check-in is done, we proceed to security and get it out of the way. Our cosmetics and toiletries are packed in travel size containers and in transparent bags. We don’t wear watches or bracelets when we travel. We wear comfortable clothing, wherever possible we ditch the belt. I wear lace-free sneakers to easily take them off on security.
After security, our FUN time begins. First, we figure out where the flight gate is. Then we eat and drink. (We went for beer and mojito at 07:00 am in the morning at the airport – to ring in our TRAVEL day :)). Thereafter, we chat or discuss travel plans (and that can go for hours).
Other options to kill time at the airport are – reading a book, watch Netflix, online chat with friends and family, travel plans like us, download music while you have wi-fi, use the washroom, etc.
Once the boarding starts, we line up by zones and proceed to our seats. When I am in an aircraft, I am either sleeping or dreaming (with open eyes). I LOVE the feeling of being up in the sky, passing through clouds in my own little world and slowly I go off to sleep.
Or you can watch a movie with in-flight entertainment, read a book, play games, write that story, organized your thoughts, make future plans, etc.
Carry headphones for entertainment. The noise cancellation ones are the best headphones for long haul flights. They allow you to sleep well. Or use earplugs. Both headphones and earplugs help in warding off ear (block) issues. (Tip: Chewing Gum can help with ear plugging, at high altitudes due to cabin pressure. Try it!)
Try to get some sleep in the aircraft to avoid jet-lag.
Pro Tip: Curing Jet lag symptoms – Use of sleeping pills or Melatonin can help get rid of jet lag upon landing. Minimize on caffeine and try to get some rest and sleep on your flight.
In-flight beauty routine – Use face mist for a quick “lift me up” before you land or immediately after landing or whenever you like. Don’t forget to moisturize – the air inside the aircraft is dry and cold.
Long Haul flight outfit – What to wear on a long flight?
Dress for comfort in long haul flights. Yea, I know comfort is different for different people. But by coordinating certain colors and outfits you can look like a bomb (aka put together, clean and tidy).
Travel outfits for long flights
For her –
- Bottoms – I like wearing leggings or straight cut pants. No jeans for me on flights. Leggings are the BEST as I can cuddle up even in an economy seat. Straight cut pants are roomy and airy, less restrictive and loose. I prefer wearing travel pants in black or dark colors. Refresh them by wearing a bright top/pullover.
- Top – I prefer wearing a breathable fabric top, usually full sleeves. Something comfy like a long tunic style top or an oversized T-shirt. And then a light jacket on top. Check out these lightweight travel jackets for her
- Scarf for comfort and style
- Wear compression socks
- Sneakers or flats (ditch heels or wedges)
For him –
- Bottoms – Salil loves his jeans. Occasionally he is seen in cargoes and athletic wear. Wear loose clothing, not baggy but airy.
- T-Shirts or hoodies
- Warm and lightweight jacket
So, these were our long flight tips and tricks. We hope you found the post and list of items useful. Feel free to customize it according to your personal preference.
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Check out more travel tips posts below, we are sure you will find them useful!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Oh wow thank you for the great content! I will be flying to china and to the US soon – both flights over 12 hours long (ugh) and I am going to take your great advise!
Thanks so much Lieze. So glad you found this post useful. Happy Travels and enjoy your flight 🙂
Thank you for sharing this excellent blog! I enjoyed reading it thoroughly. You are a great writer. I will save your blog in my bookmarks to revisit it soon. I would like for you to continue producing excellent blog posts. Have a wonderful weekend.
Thank you so much Jerry!