There is nothing quite like loading yourself into a single, poorly padded, seat for multiple hours that can soon lead to some major discomfort. But don’t let that stop you from exploring! You can survive a long-haul flight if you pack some airplane essentials and know a few tips for what to wear and what seat to pick! I even have a printable carry on packing list.
Long Flight Essentials
The first tip for surviving a long flight is to pack a few essential travel items that will help you stay comfortable. I always pack a little bag of go-to comfort items for the flight and then have them easily accessible. Here are my go-to carry on essentials:
I personally love my iPad for traveling. I can watch movies on the plane, play games, read books, and listen to audiobooks. You can also just travel with your phone and use it for the same things – I just prefer the larger screen. I also always travel with my laptop since flights can be a great opportunity to work – no distractions!
Many airlines are installing charge outlets at seats to help feed our e-addiction. Be sure you pack your chargers along in your carry on so that you can recharge if needed. Nothing like landing in a new city and having to sit in an airport to charge up before you can call an Uber. You can also pack a battery charger pack to help you survive long travel days.
For me, all of my entertainment needs are met with my iPad. For you that might mean packing a book, magazine, newspaper, or craft (i.e. knitting). This section also serves as your reminder to download any books, audiobooks, games or movies you might want to have for the long flight. Many airlines will have free movies on long flights, often they’re new releases, too.
Don’t forget to pack your headphones. I finally splurged on a nice pair of wireless beats for my own flights and while I hate how much room they take up in my carry on, I love the sound and being wireless is so convenient for flying. I also do pack a pair of earbuds as well since sometimes the over-the-ear headphones can start to bug me and can get too hot.
I wrote a whole post about the best travel neck pillow for long flights and my personal favorite is the trtl pillow. I find it fairly easy to pack and it offers the best support in my opinion so I can actually sleep.
You can never guess at the temperature on a plane. I’m someone who is almost ALWAYS cold, and sometimes I’ve been hot on a flight. More often than not though I’m putting layers on and wishing there was a foot heater under each seat. I always take a travel blanket along on long flights. The trick is finding a very thin blanket that will pack well. You might also want to pack a pair of cozy warm socks if your feet tend to get cold. Women can use a blanket scarf instead of packing a blanket.
A friend of mine recently had a DVT blood clot caused by flying so it’s made the importance of compression socks more real. You don’t even have to wear ugly ones anymore, there are plenty of fun styles to choose from and you don’t have to spend tons on a good pair.
Disinfecting Wipes (Sanitizer)
Airplanes are cesspools of germs. Honestly, think of all those people who fly in the same seat as yours. Also consider that sick people don’t want to lose out on their airfare investment so people will often fly when they’re sick, meaning they’re spreading all those viruses along the way. Use disinfecting wipes to wipe down your tray table, armrest, seat buckle, headrest, and window shade. Also, pack a small bottle of hand sanitizer to use before and after you eat.
If you have any hope of sleeping on a plane, I highly recommend packing some ear plugs. I am amazed at how much they can help me drown out the noises.
An eye mask is another thing I never thought I’d use, but I’m so glad I finally tried it. I highly recommend getting a comfortable one that fits you well. Once you get rid of the light and drown out the sound with earbuds, wrap up with your pillow and blanket and get some zzz’s. You can also travel with some sleeping pills if you need a little help getting to sleep.
My sinuses sometimes get crazy when I travel so I always like to have tissues packed in case I need to blow my nose.
Toothbrush / Toothpaste / Floss
After a long flight, there is nothing better than brushing your teeth. If you brush your teeth on the flight, don’t use the lavatory water. You can ask for a cup of water from the flight attendants before heading into the lavatory and then use that to wet and clean your toothbrush. You can also buy travel toothpick brushes that can work perfectly on a plane.
The air on planes is very dry and your lips will likely dry out, so pack some lip balm.
Gum / Mints
I don’t think this takes much explanation. Freshen your breath and gum might even help you pop your ears.
If you tend to have oily hair, pack some dry shampoo to help freshen up your hair when you land. They sell travel sized ones at most drugstores, but I recommend finding a non-aerosol one to travel.
Don’t be the stinky neighbor. Please. Use and reapply deodorant. Cramped quarters and stressful travel days can be the pits. Make sure you keep yours fresh.
Again, back to the dry airplane cabins. Your eyes will likely get dry. I’ve recently been using Lumify to help with red eyes, too.
Vitamin C Packet
This is my own personal thing, I pack a few packets of Emergen-C that I add to my water. While there might be no proof that vitamin C helps protect against sickness, I’m still a fan and use it before and while I fly.
Aromatherapy Stick / Roller
A new love for me has been to bring a travel aromatherapy set along on my long flights. I have a few different ones that I like. I find stress release and tension relief ones to be the best for flights. These also can be a huge help if your flight gets smelly – put a little dab under your nose and cover the smell up.
Just be mindful of your neighbors and avoid strong scents or overuse since many of us are sensitive to scents.
I always pack ibuprofen for a flight since I can often end up with a headache. Trust me, a long flight is certainly not the place to have to deal with a headache. I also find that sitting for long periods plus leaning over to read or work can lead to a backache too, so ibuprofen can help with body aches, too.
Ladies be sure to pack some feminine hygiene items just in case. When you’re busy traveling you can occasionally forget to track when your next period will be arriving.
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Carry On Packing List
If you are like me and love checklists, I’ve made a printable packing list. You can use to make sure you’re packing a few airplane essentials and that you’ll have plenty of things to do on a long flight.
Of course, you might be packing your clothes and regular toiletries along with these airplane essentials. So you can use my other packing lists if you want to make sure you have everything.
What to Wear On a Long Flight
My go-to long haul flight outfit is pretty simple. This is one time when comfort is a priority, but that doesn’t mean you have to look frumpy. You can leave the pajama pants packed away and still survive a long flight in economy with a few little tricks.
First, let’s talk about pants. I love to wear solid black leggings. They can be paired with some cute tops and/or cardigans and look fashionable while still staying comfortable. I buy simple ones Amazon, but I also love prAna leggings.
If you’re not a legging person, or if you really need pockets, you can find some great travel pants that work well. Look for soft, quick-drying fabrics, and I personally prefer elastic waistbands. Men can wear jeans but might prefer athletic or travel pants.
I love to wear soft t-shirts when I fly. My favorites are from prAna. But any soft comfortable tee will work. I often pair my leggings and t-shirt with a long cardigan that has pockets. I wear one that I got from a Stitch Fix box, but my friend loves the SCOTTeVEST cardigan.
You might also want to wear a blanket scarf on the flight. While I have a travel blanket, I often pack, a cute blanket scarf will make your outfit look more put together. Plus, it can serve as a good travel item to wear during your trip.
As I mentioned above, consider packing a pair of compression socks, perhaps also a pair of cozy socks to keep your feet warm. And be sure to carefully chose what shoes to wear for your flight. I highly recommend slip-on shoes, I like these Dr. Scholl’s shoes.
Of course, if you’re packing light you might be wearing your bulkiest shoes, but if you can, wear slip-ons. They’ll help you breeze through security as well as make it easy to slip off your shoes for the long flight (just keep your feet under your seat space).
Long Haul Flight Tips
Here are a few of my other travel tips for long flights.
Choosing the Right Seat
The first tip has to do with seat choice, and I have a few thoughts on that. First, if you have long legs, consider splurging for an extra legroom premium seat if available. Just be sure that the premium seat includes extra legroom, some premium seats do not have more room and only offer early boarding or forward seat location perks.
If you’re not splurging for premium seats, then check the seat map and don’t be scared to pick a farther back row. People love to sit closer to the front, so those rows fill up faster. However, sometimes on flights that aren’t full you’ll find the back rows have a lot of empty middle seats, sometimes you’ll even see someone with an entire empty row.
My final tip about seat choice is to choose a window seat if you like to sleep. I often choose aisle seats to prevent claustrophobic feelings, however, I never sleep well with people constantly bumping my shoulder or elbow or grabbing my seat back as they walk past. You’ll also have to get up to let any of your row-mates out to use the restroom, which could interrupt your sleep.
Selecting a window seat allows you to lean against the wall/window and snooze away undisturbed. Window seats also have the perk of getting to look and photograph any beautiful landscapes that you might fly over. Just be sure to use the restroom right when you board. After meal service can be a good time to use the lavatory too since people are often awake and tray tables aren’t full of meals and drinks.
One thing you’ll notice on long flights is that the flight crew will often walk by with cups of water. There is a reason for that! The airplane cabin has very low humidity and you can quickly become dehydrated. Dehydration can lead to skin discomfort, fatigue, muscle cramping, and headaches. So, when you see an attendant walk by with a tray or bottle of water, take a cup. Your body will thank you!
Another tip is to pack your own reusable water bottle and to fill it up at the airport once you’ve cleared security. If you have lounge access, they often have chilled, flavored water in a dispenser. Many airports often have water bottle filling stations near the drinking fountains.
Get Up and Move
First and foremost, obey the seat belt light. But if the pilot has given the all clear to move about the cabin, feel free to take a bit of a walk. I like to regularly head to the bathroom just to stretch my legs and wash my hands. There are a lot of germs are on airplanes, so keeping your hands washed is a good idea, plus you’ll stretch those legs and that’ll help you stay comfortable.
Hopefully, now you’re ready to relax on your next flight. Picking the perfect long haul flight outfit, packing a few travel essentials in your carry on, and knowing a few of my favorite flight tips should help you survive your next long flight.