40 Long Haul Flight Essentials: Everything you MUST pack in your carry-on

As some one who moved to the other side of the world, Long Haul Flights very quickly became part of my regular routine. As I am not some one who flies for business, I do not have the perks of free upgrades and you will find me in the back of plane in economy! Unfortunately, there is no “secret hack” to turning your economy flight into a first class flight. However, you can pack some “long haul flight essentials” that will make your flight much more bearable.

From my very first flight, where my not so polite seat neighbour told me to stop crying (dude, I don’t know when I’m going to see my family again!), I have become a pro at packing and preparing for my long haul flights.

Lucky for you….I am going to share some of my long haul flight essentials and general tips with you to hopefully make your next flight a little less…..sucky?

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Preparing for your trip

The arc de triomphe

If you are like me, you’re constantly on pinterest before each long haul flight looking up things like “how to survive a long haul flight, long haul flight essentials, what to pack for a long haul flight, getting a free upgrade to business”

I won’t lie, you are not going to find the magic hack and your chances of getting upgrade to premium economy, let alone, business class (or first class) are very slim. However, it is important to start preparing for your long haul flight before you get to the airport.

Decide on your carry on luggage

Unless you are flying on a big international airline, most airlines will charge for luggage and will make you check in your carry on bag if it two grams over your allowance! So make sure your carry on luggage meets like requirements.

When it comes to luggage, any kind of luggage, you need to think of it as an investment. You do not want to be half way through your trip and have your zipper break or your handle fall off. You want to make sure that you have quality luggage that will last you for many years.

As a rough guide, your luggage should last you 8 – 10 years. This comes from someone who doesn’t exactly look after their luggage!! I use my luggage as a seat, I drag it through airports, roll it down stairs – so don’t be like me…..look after your luggage and it will last you a long time!

Some of my luggage recommendations are:

The Away Roller Bags: These suitcases are beautiful! Not only are they gorgeous but they are well designed for all of your travel needs, they are hard shelled cases with a built in laundry bag with compressor so it doesn’t become super bulky before you can find a laundry. One side of the case is made for soft items such as clothing and the other side is for harder items such as shoes and toiletries. I recommend the suitcase with the built in battery pack to help charge your electronics on the go.

Two away suitcases outside with a dog in the doorway

The Tortuga Set Out Backpack: If you prefer a backpack to a suitcase then the Set Out is the one for you. It packs like a suitcase and carry’s like a backpack. The best thing about this pack is that is opens like a suitcase so you don’t have to pull everything out of your bag to find your hair tie that is all the way at the bottom!!

Pack your Long Haul Flight Essentials Kit

These are the items that are going to transform your economy flight into a first class flight….. who am I kidding, these are the items will not make it a first class flight but they will make your economy flight a little more comfortable.

1. Baby wipes

I used to travel with cleanser but I have found that baby wipes are little easier to travel with and they have a few uses. I love to wipe my face and neck as soon as I get on the plane. It helps to replicate my night time routine and get me ready to relax. I also like to wipe down my surroundings, I know that plans are cleaned but like to make sure! Baby wipes are great for that mid flight shower – remember, we’re in economy not first class!! I also like to have a bit of a “wash” before arriving in my destination.

2. Deodorant

This long haul flight essential is more for your seat neighbours! I always panic that I am going to be stinky on my flight, so I am constantly using deodorant throughout my flights. I love the fresh coconut scent of this deodorant!

3. Lip Balm

Lip Balm is a definite essential but airplanes are super dehydrating. There is nothing worse than being dehydrated when you are trying to sleep!!

4. Moisturiser

Moisturiser is another LONG haul flight essential. I moisturise several times through out the flight so I don’t look 100 years old when I arrive in my destination. I either use a regular moisturiser or if I can’t be bothered constantly applying moisturiser, I take a thick mask with me (just remember to put it into a travel container!)

5. Travel Bottles

Remember when travelling on long haul international flights your liquids and gels need to be under 100mL. This is where travel bottles will come in handy.

You can pour (or scoop) your larger bottles and containers into your small travel bottles. This will ensure you’re not getting into trouble and security and that you aren’t wasting product.

6. Snacks

On most long haul flights you will get some food. It just might not be as often as you like it or the kind of food that you feel like in the middle of the night so I suggest you pack your own food!

7. Travel Cup

I always get bored at airports and buy drinks just for the sake of it. When ever possible I would much rather use a reusable cup to help do my bit for the environment. Reusable cups are great as a general travel essential so I highly recommend you get one!

8. Reusable water bottle

Reusable water bottle in case you didn’t read earlier, airplanes are very hydrating places and water bottles in the airport are VERY expensive (and bad for the environment). I always take a water bottle with me and ask the flight attendants (very politely) if I they will fill it up for me. I love collapsible water bottles because when they are empty they don’t take much space.

9. Gum

I always bring gum with me, it helps if you can’t find a toothbrush and it can help your ears when your flight is taking off or landing.

10. Hair Ties

When moving around airports my hair always gets in the way, so I like to have a few hair ties handy. I prefer to use the silk scrunchies because they’re much kinder to my hair.

11. Toothbrush

I think this one is self explanatory but something can be easily forgotten. I always buy a new tooth brush and pack in my hand luggage so I can’t forget to pack it on the day I leave.

12. Head phone splitter

If you’re travelling with a partner or a friend and using a laptop or iPad for entertainment you will want to grab a head phone splitter!

13. Noise cancelling Head phones

Noise cancelling headphones are perfect to block out the noisy sounds of the plane, babies crying or the snoring passenger next to you. I love these headphones as they allow me to sink into a movie and the time flies by (pardon the pun!)

14. Travel Pillow

Your long haul flight essentials kit is not complete without a travel pillow. Inflatable travel pillows are great options because you can add as much (or as little) air as you like and when you’re not using them they’re easy to fold away in your bag.

15. Eye Mask and Ear Plugs

Eye mask and ear plugs are perfect for being able to block out the world on a long haul flight, especially if it is a night time flight.

16. Blanket Scarf

This essential item has so many uses but I find airplanes so cold and I the blankets on the planes are pretty thin so I love bringing a blanket scarf. These can be bulky but I am always so grateful for it when ever I use it!

17. Warm socks

I find warm fluffy socks really improve my flight experience more than you could imagine. Not only do I hate having a cold feet but I also find that any time I’m getting comfortable at home, I put on some warm fluffy socks. So why not use them on a long haul flight as well?

18. Compression Socks

If your feet or legs swell when you’re flying it is a great idea to grab a pair of compression socks. Compression socks can also help with deep vein thrombose when travelling, but make sure you are moving around during your long haul flight.

19. A change of clothes and spare underwear

There are a million reasons why you should always bring a change of clothes and spare underwear with you on the plane. Lost luggage? At least you have some fresh clothes for the first 24 hours of your trip. Flying from a hot country and to a cold country? Or maybe you’re just like me and you like to have fresh clothes on when you land!

21. Slides or flip flops

As mentioned above, I love wearing socks during my flight but I never go to the toilet in just socks, is that water on the floor? I find slides are perfect for wearing over my socks to the toilet or just around in the plane in general.

22. Face mask

These days no body goes any where without a face mask but it is particularly important when travelling. To keep yourself and everybody else safe, please make sure you carry a mask with you next time you are on a plane.

23. Hand sanitizer

Along with a face mask, hand sanitizer can be found every where these days. It is something I have always travelled with but never used as much as I should. I love this hand sanitizer because it is cruelty free and not harsh on your skin.

A little squirt of hand sanitizer before you eat or touch a communal space can help keep us all safe and travelling.

24. Disinfectant wipes

Planes have always been known as not always being the cleanest places and airlines are saying that since COVID-19 they are cleaning the planes more thoroughly. However, since I began taking long haul flights I have always wiped down my tray table, in flight entertainment unit (if there is one) and my arm rests, however, I cannot recommend highly enough that you do this every time you fly.

Disinfectant wipes don’t take up much room and they can make your flight more enjoyable knowing that you have cleaned your area.

25. Sunscreen

Not only is sunscreen essential for when you arrive in your destination but it is also a must for when you are on the plane. Even though you are at high altitudes if you are sitting on the window you can still be exposed to UVA. I always apply sunscreen before every flight and as I’m landing, even if it just a stop over.

26. Rain jacket

There is nothing worse than landing at London Heathrow after a 24 hour flight from Australia and it is pouring rain when you’re trying to get to your accommodation. Ever since my first flight to London, I have always packed a light weight rain jacket in my carry on. It is much easier to access than if it is in your main luggage and you never know when you might need it.

27. Travel purse

Along with my carry on back pack, I always have a small purse that I have across my body. In this small bag I carry my passport, iPhone, credit cards, cash, spare sim card, tickets and really anything that is valuable to me. These are things that are expensive, hard to replace or would make my travels very difficult if they got stolen.

Whenever I am on the plan I “wear” this bag or I have it sitting next to me on my seat. As it is so small it doesn’t count toward your carry on luggage and it gives me piece of mind that if I go to sleep my important things won’t get stolen.

I bought my travel purse in the leather markets in Florence (I highly recommend a visit when you’re in Florence) but this one is quite similar.

28. Cash

I highly recommend converting some of your home currency to the local currency of your first destination. Depending on where you are going it can be quite hard to get money when you first land. You always need money at the airport, whether it is for the bus, a taxi or a transfer, you will need to pay for this.

I don’t like get stuck with only a card so I exchange about $100AUD so I am covered when I first get there.

I also always have about $100AUD on me at all times that I can change if I find I am stuck without any money.

Tip: I never suggest carrying 100s of dollars in any currency just in case something happens and its gets stolen!

29. Notebook

I never travel with out a notebook. I sometimes write a diary during my travels but it is handy for noting down the places you want to see during your trip, you can write down directions for getting to your first nights accommodations as soon as you leave the airport.

It also provides you with some entertainment on the flight!

30. Pen

What use is a notebook if you don’t have a pen? Aside from being able to to write in your notebook, a pen is useful for filling out an departure or arrival cards you need to fill in. You can’t always rely on the flight attendants or fellow passengers to lend you a pen.

31. Entertainment

Most Long Haul Flights these days have inflight entertainment that includes music, movies, eBooks, TV shows and games. However, sometimes you end up sitting in a seat where the entertainment is broken. Or perhaps you are on an older flight that doesn’t have the entertainment units.

Be prepared and bring your own entertainment. I like to pack a book because I am old school and like physical books but I also download podcasts before the flight leaves or bring my laptop with movies downloaded.

Entertainment is also very important if you end up stuck in an airport a lot longer than you thought! I once booked a 17 hours lay over in the Middle East and I didn’t realise until I arrived. Let’s just say, I learnt every single corner of the airport!!

32. Universal Adapter

Universal adapters are super important as they help you charge your devices no matter where you are in the world! It takes away some of the preplanning you have to do and prevents you from having a hundred different adapters for countries you might only visit once.

33. USB cord

Don’t forget your USB cord to keep your phone charged on the flight! Whether you are using the USB socket on the plane or your portable charger, you will want to make sure you have a fully charged phone when you land!

34. Packing cubes

I hate trying to rummage around in my bag to find my socks at the very bottom of the bag, so I use packing cubes. I use these in main luggage and my carry on to keep everything super organized.

I only started using packing cubes before my latest four month trip around Europe and I have no idea how I ever survived without them before!

35. Copy of your passport

When travelling overseas I am always worried something will happen to my passport. It is my life line when I’m travelling, it proves my identity but in a crisis it will also help if I turn up to the Australian Consulate any where.

Whilst nothing beats actually having your passport if something goes wrong and you lose your passport or it gets stolen having a copy of it can help you get your new passport processed and to prove your identify without the actual passport.

I find a paper is sometimes more useful than having it stored on your phone incase you don’t have reception or battery.

36. Extra passport photo

As with the one above, carry a passport photo can help you get your new passport processed faster if you carry a spare passport photo with you.

37. Make sure you are covered

While this one is not a long haul flight essential in the fact that it fits in a kit, it is an essential in that you cannot leave home with out. Yes, I am talking about travel insurance.

Grab some popcorn and settle in for story time:

You are heading off on the trip of a life time, you have packed all of your best travel gear, perhaps you’ve purchased some things especially for this trip (I know we did, we spent $600 on down jackets. In fact, my old backpack broke before our trip so I spent $500 on my backpack!)

You’re standing at a baggage carousel on the other side of the world, every body else has collected their bags and you’re still waiting, waiting and waiting. Deep down you know it, your bags aren’t coming.

You go to the luggage counter to fill a missing bag report, but what if they can’t find it? What if some one has taken it?

You’re luggage has gone….

Someone lying in a hammock in an open living area

Maybe it’s not your luggage.

You’ve booked into a gorgeous all inclusive resort for 10 days in Ubud, Bali and right as your about to take off, your flight is cancelled due to ash from the volcano. You don’t whether you have to cancel your trip or you have to pay for accommodation while you wait to find out what is happening.

Or heaven for bid, there is a huge medical emergency and you need to immediate medical attention.

Fingers crossed, none of the above happen to you but you have to be covered if they do happen. Especially, if it is a medical emergency. This is a situation that cannot be ignored and needs to be attended to straight away. However, if you do not have travel insurance, these can be very expensive.

You should always, always, always, purchase travel insurance as soon as you have booked or paid for something related to your trip. I highly recommend World Nomads to any one because it is travel insurance made by travellers for travellers. However, you need to do your own research and choose a insurance company that suits your needs.

38. Don’t fight over the outlets

An iphone plugged into a power outlet

It seems that airports never have enough outlets and if they do, there is already a hundred travellers (okay, I may be slight exaggerating) crowded around it.

I find a Long Haul Flight Essential is having a fully charged phone and after travelling for 14 hours (and only being two thirds of the way) my phone is usually dying. So, I have found a couple of “tricks”, that aren’t really tricks, to avoid the fight over the power outlets.

Away Carry On luggage – if you have purchased the Away luggage, you will have your handy power pack built in to your luggage. Just don’t forget to charge your luggage before your long haul flight.

Portable Power Pack adding a portable power pack to your long haul flight essentials kit is pretty easy. It doesn’t take up too much space and it will take away the stress of arriving in your destination with a flat battery and no idea how to get to your accommodation. I love this power pack because it will charge my phone fully FIVE times and it charges very quickly.

Power Board packing a power board will help when there are a quite a few people fighting over the same outlet. These are also fantastic for hostels or if you travel with a few different electronics that need charging. If you are using a Power Board, make sure it suits the plugs from your home country and bring your universal power adapter so you can plug into any plug!

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My BEST Travel Resources

Here are my favourite travel resources for planning travel like a pro

Flights: To find the best flights I always search on Google Flights or Skyscanner. For even cheaper flights, fly mid week and pack in a carry on!

Accommodation: I always use booking.com (I love their price match and flexible cancellation policies) or Airbnb (if I want a little more space) to book trip. If you prefer hostels, I suggest Hostelworld.

If you are new to Airbnb you can get an awesome discount using this link

Travel Insurance: After a few hairy moments on my travels, I ALWAYS purchase travel insurance. It may seem like a big cost now, but if the worst happens, it will save you a lot of money and heartache. I personally use World Nomads (and love them!), but I recommend that you do some research to find the insurance company that suits your needs.

Tours: While I prefer to travel independently, I do love doing some tours once I’m in a destination. It is a great way to find out history, hidden gems, taste local food and get a local insight into your destination. I always use Viator to book my tours.

Train Travel: If you are planning on taking the train in Europe, I cannot recommend the Eurail enough! Check out The Ultimate Guide to the Eurail Pass to find out why

Car Hire: Planning an epic road trip across the US or through Europe, or anywhere! Check out Europcar, they are my go to for car hire all over the world!

Luggage Storage: Some times when we are travelling our check in and check out times don’t match with our departure times so we have to put our luggage into storage. Stasher Luggage Storage is the biggest Luggage Storage Network across the UK, France and Germany

Frequently Asked Questions

Reusable water bottle – on long haul flights hydration is super important
Eye mask and ear plugs – these greatly help with sleeping
Chargers – you want to make sure your devices are charged at the other end
Travel pillow – these are compact and really help you stay comfortable on a flight
Blanket scarf – airplanes can get very cold and sometimes the airline blanket isn’t enough
Toothbrush
Baby wipes – keep you feeling fresh on the flight and are great to wipe down surfaces

On a long haul flight you need to be comfortable. Wearing tight and restrictive clothing are generally uncomfortable, especially after 15 hours. Make sure you wear clothes that are breathable and layers are great option to help you stay warm on your flight.

For safety reasons, high heels are not a great idea. If you need to leave the plane in an emergency you are often not allowed to wear your high heels.

During a 12 hour flight you want to make sure you are going to be comfortable and entertained.

You might consider packing the following in your hand luggage:

Reusable water bottle – on long haul flights hydration is super important
Eye mask and ear plugs – these greatly help with sleeping
Chargers – you want to make sure your devices are charged at the other end
Travel pillow – these are compact and really help you stay comfortable on a flight
Blanket scarf – airplanes can get very cold and sometimes the airline blanket isn’t enough
Toothbrush
Baby wipes – keep you feeling fresh on the flight and are great to wipe down surfaces

Generally flights over seven hours are considered to be long haul flights. These flights are often international flights.

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46 thoughts on “40 Long Haul Flight Essentials: Everything you MUST pack in your carry-on”

  1. I’ve only recently started really preparing for long flights. During school, I really just hopped on a plane and hoped for the best. Now I can’t survive without my travel pillow and mask!!!! Great packing list.

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    • I’m with you there! I never used to care and these day I basically write a checklist before every long haul flight!!

      Reply
  2. Some great ideas here – always good to have something to cross reference for peace of mind when you’re about to go on a long haul flight. I always have to take lip balm, baby wipes, a refillable filter waterfbottle and of course snacks!

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    • I always have to have it written down otherwise I feel like I’m forgetting something! Snack are a must!!

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  3. Thanks so so much for the tips! For me, I always kick myself if I forget lip balm! Also I can never travel without enough power!

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    • Aw I’m glad this post helped you….lip balm is an easy one to forget but a life saver when you remember it.

      Reply
  4. I actually usually enjoy long haul flights. A toothbrush, eye mask, and snacks are essential for long hauls! I also like to pack a change of clothes and a make up kid so i can feel refreshed at the end.

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    • Oh yes, a change of clothes! I always have a clean t-shirt and undies….they’re a life saver if your luggage goes missing.

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  5. I feel reusable water bottles and hair ties in my soul! haha. I always find myself thinking “nah, I won’t need that” but then I end up needing it and have to go buy it! Good tips.

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  6. haven’t been in a very long flight yet. But this is very helpful to me soon in case! We really need to know what would be on our hand carry during long flights!

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  7. I can’t wait til we get to go on a long haul flight. I will never complain about it again. I love your list and need to add a few of those items to my list. Our last long haul flight, I found these facial sheets on amazon and my daughter and I had a mini facial. I know it sounds silly, but it was fun.

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    • This is very true! I’m not a huge fan of long haul flights but right now I would quite happily be on one! Aw I love that idea, that’s super cute.

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  8. I love the baby wipe idea!! Thank you! I travel a lot for both work and pleasure and this is a great list! I use makeup wipes currently but definitely getting baby wipes next time :).

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  9. Great list! I definitely agree with you on Travel Insurance, cause you never know what could happen and it’s a great way to protect your health.

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    • Yep, I always get travel insurance and mainly in case I get sick! I got caught out once without and the trip to the doctors was sooo expensive.

      Reply
  10. What a great list, it really has everything you need for a long haul flight. It’s really important to bring the right things to make your trip as comfortable as possible. Thanks for sharing!

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  11. Nice post – I love that you talked about the Away bags – I’ve been debating splurging on them for the longest time!

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  12. I also love to pack warm socks and sleepers so I can take off my shoes and feel already more relax to eventually sleep ^^

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  13. Great packing tips. I agree that it’s so important to stay hydrated on those long flights. Water, moisturizer and lip balm are musts!

    Reply
  14. I like the idea of a power cord. I could have used something like this tons of times when traveling. Also a blanket scarf is a great idea! I am not a huge fan of long flights but somethings it is worth it!

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    • I don’t use my power cord too often but when I do it’s a life saver and I never fly without a blanket scarf!!

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  15. I don’t know which rock I’ve been living under because I seriously never considered packing one for my travels! This is going to help me out even beyond the airport because I bring so many devices when I travel and I have to ‘schedule’ and queue their charging times even in hotels!

    Reply
  16. These are great tips and it shows that you know what you are doing. I cannot believe that someone told you to stop crying. I was once asked if I could hold my neighbors hand for take off since she was so afraid of flying. I found that… unusual, but what the heck, sure I did 😊

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    • That’s so cute that you held her hand!! We seem to do things on planes that we wouldn’t normally do but hey, we can be seated next to our new neighbours for 14 hours!

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  17. This guide is super helpful!! I always tell people to pack an essentials kit and explain how it’s different for everyone depending on what they want/need. Thank you for sharing this!

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  18. Totally agree with all these tips! Especially with carry-on’s. I don’t usually check my bags so packing right is essential!

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    • Super impressed that you can travel with a carry on! Although, I have decided from here on out that I will only take a carry on….wish me luck haha

      Reply
  19. I love these blogposts about long haul flight essentials, there’s always something new to bring!! I recently (like, last year) bought a noise cancelling headphone. Mostly to use when I’m working on my business in a cafe, but I am so excited to do my long haul flights in the future with this headphone. No more crying babies, no more annoying engine sounds. Just quietness! I can finally listen to a podcasts without needing to turn up my volume to 100% haha!

    Reply
  20. Yes to so many of these but especially the moisturizer. Every time I’m on a flight my skin gets so dry. I always keep it handy and some lip balm too. I usually use tinted Vaseline which is so good

    Reply

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