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Long haul flights are a source of angst for many travelers. However, with the right essentials for a long-haul flight, even a 15-hour plane ride can be pleasant. We love long flights (and prefer them over short stints in the air), but only because when we board the plane, we are armed with our Long-Haul Flights Essentials.
To be honest though, it took me some time to hone my skills to create a master list of essentials for long haul flights. On my first plane ride from the United States to Europe, I had made no effort to seek out long-haul flight tips…and I was woefully unprepared. It was a miserable plane trip – and when we landed in Paris I was grumpy and jet-lagged.
Determined not to make that mistake again, on subsequent plane trips I sought out the best long-haul flight tips and refined my list of flight essentials. The more we flew, the better prepared I was. Now, as a full-time traveler, I don’t even think about how to survive a long-haul flight…I only look forward to enjoying it.
How To Survive Long Haul Flights
Surviving a long-haul flight is not a difficult task if you have the right travel essentials for long flights. What I have learned in my travels is that long haul flight survival is not just limited to what you bring on long flights. It is equally important to consider what to wear on a long-haul flight. It is these 2 things together – what to wear and what to bring – that ultimately make up our list of Long-Haul Flights Essentials.
Pro Tip: With only a few variations, this list can be used for long haul bus travel as well!
Long Haul Flights Essentials
Our tips for a long-haul flight include everything that we consider long flight essentials. Because they need to be easily accessible, these items are packed in our day bags that goes at our feet under the seat in front of us. You can get our free, printable checklist, when you subscribe to our blog!
LONG HAUL FLIGHT: WHAT TO WEAR
Deciding what to wear on a long-haul flight is one of the key elements to enjoying the journey – so let’s talk about that first.
In my opinion, above all, your long-haul flight outfit must be comfortable. That said, outfits for long haul flights can be stylish – but comfort comes first (and, if you are most comfy wearing pajamas on a red-eye flight, then go for it!).
Best Outfit for Long Haul Flight
I, personally, like to wear dresses as my long-haul travel outfits. Typically, when I fly, I wear a loose casual dress (preferably with short sleeves). To complete my outfit, I wear leggings, a thin hoodie and sandals or slip on shoes.
Read more about travel footwear in our post, the Best Travel Shoes!
Outfit Tips for Long Haul Flight
I prefer dresses on airplanes – over shirts and pants – because they are not binding. However, if you wear pants, I recommend that your long-haul flight pants have an elastic waistband for more comfort.
I do wear leggings under my dress – and I do it for 3 reasons: One, it is easier to move around the plane, stow luggage overhead and get situated in my seat with leggings; Two, planes are often cool…but if it gets stifling hot on the plane (which it sometimes does), I am able to take off the leggings without even getting up from my seat; and Three, when I wear leggings, my bare legs do not come into contact with the seat or the person sitting next to me.
An easy way to create a stylish long-haul flight outfit without sacrificing comfort is to dress up your casual clothing with a colorful scarf or jewelry.
WHAT TO TAKE ON LONG HAUL FLIGHT
Now that you know what to wear, let’s chat about long flight carry on essentials. These are all of the long-haul flight accessories that you will want to pack in your hand luggage – things that will make surviving long-haul flights a lot easier!
Additional Clothes for Long Haul Flight
We already discussed the best outfits for long-haul flights, but there are a few more clothing items you should bring on your flight. In addition to the clothes that I wear as my outfit for long haul flight, I also pack a wrap, clean underwear and compression socks in my luggage that goes under the seat in front of me.
Tips for Long Haul Flight Clothes
My wrap is one of the most versatile items I travel with – and it is one of my must-haves for long haul flights. In flight, I can use it as a pillow, blanket, scarf or seat cover. It is one of the favorite items on my Packing List!
Packing clean underwear in a long-haul flight carry on is one of the hacks I picked up as a novice traveler. If you are going to check luggage (and the majority of your clothing), then packing a pair of underwear into your carry on luggage assures that you will have a clean pair…even if your checked luggage gets lost by the airline. However, I often change into the clean pair of underwear in the airport bathroom on arrival. It just feels so much cleaner to start off in a city with a fresh pair!
Find all of my Packing Hacks here!
It makes sense to pack socks for long haul flights – cabin temperatures are often too cold (or sometimes too warm!). However, regardless of the temperature, I think wearing compression socks is a necessity. As unattractive as the long-haul flight socks may be, they have substantial health benefits, like reducing swelling and preventing blood clots (both of which can more easily occur on long haul flights).
Airplane Essentials for Long Flights to Stay Healthy
Let me start off by saying that I am not a doctor, it is best to seek health advice for long haul flights from your medical provider. Bearing that in mind, there are a few things that I do for the benefit of my personal health while traveling on airplanes (and when traveling, in general).
Hand sanitizer, anti-bacterial wipes and a small medical kit are items that are in my long-haul flight hand luggage (and I use the wipes before I even sit in my seat!). Disposable toothbrushes come in handy on flights to keep your teeth and mouth clean as well. Additionally, even though most planes are equipped with HEPA air filters that are tested to be 99% effective against viruses, we feel a face covering is still a good idea and may be required for travel.
Long Haul Flight Health Tips
Anti-bacterial hand sanitizer and wipes are plane essentials for long flights. We have always used wet wipes to clean and disinfect our seats. Not only do we wipe down the entire seat and head rest, but we make sure to clean the arm rests, seat buckles, touch screen, seat back pocket and the tray table.
A small med kit is also part of our long-haul carry on essentials. In our kit, we carry travel-size tums (for Jet Bloat), pain relievers (like aspirin) and a few Band-aids – because, in general, these are just good items to have on hand.
Find out more tips in our blog post, How To Stay Healthy While Traveling.
Keeping my teeth and mouth clean during a flight is important! That said, taking a toothbrush and toothpaste into a germ-filled plane bathroom is not ideal (and the water is usually not potable!). Instead, I use a convenient disposable toothbrush – which is designed to be used without water, so I can brush my teeth right in my seat! Because I like my mouth to feel fresh, I use several throughout the flight (after meals, before I fall asleep, when I wake up and before I disembark).
Long haul flight exercises are another way to fend off the unfortunate side effects of long-haul flights. One of the best exercises for long haul flights is to simply get up and walk around. But you can also do easy in-seat exercises – like rolling your ankles, wrists, shoulders and neck – for better circulation.
Long Haul Flight Beauty Essentials
Having a beauty regime on a flight is one of the best tips for long haul flights…one that your skin will thank you for! My top beauty essentials for long haul flights are simple: lip balm and moisturizer.
Beauty and Skincare: Long Haul Flight Tips
The dry air on airplanes can wreak havoc on skin, which is why lip balm and moisturizer are necessities. I carry a small hand moisturizer that I can be used on my face, too – and I apply both the lotion and the lip balm liberally throughout the flight. Face mist and sheet masks are other long-haul flight skin care products that travelers use in-flight.
One of the top long-haul flight beauty tips that some travelers find difficult to get on board with is to fly without wearing makeup. But, trust me, your skin will appreciate it! A made-up face will not likely last the duration of the long flight anyway. Rather than wearing any makeup in-flight, I stop at the airport bathroom on arrival and – after I change into fresh underwear – I can wash my face and apply minimal makeup (so be sure to keep that in your carry on luggage, too!)
Long Plane Ride Essentials for Sleeping
Sleeping on a plane can be difficult, but not if you are prepared with the best long-haul flight accessories! For us, the best way to get sleep on an airplane is to eliminate light and noise – and we do so by using sleep masks and ear plugs.
Long Haul Flying Tips for Sleeping In-Flight
When it comes to sleeping masks, there are thousands to choose from. That said, for airplane sleeping masks, contoured sleeping masks that block out 100% of the light are ideal. The PrettyCare Sleep Mask comes in a set of two, is affordable and gets rave reviews from fellow travelers.
We usually use cheap earplugs, but when my allergies cause congestion, I like to use Earplanes. Not only do they reduce cabin noise, but they are specially designed to relive air pressure and the resulting discomfort.
Most airlines offer pillows (and blankets) to all passengers – even those in economy – for longer flights. Therefore, flight pillows for long haul flights are not an item we carry with us. However, if you are looking for a long-haul flight pillow, there are a few the come highly rated by fellow travelers – like the trtl Pillow that has become all the rage recently.
Long Flight Travel Essentials for Entertainment
When it comes to long haul travel essentials, on-board entertainment is the thing that passes the time. Kris is happily entertained if he has a window seat, but I need something more directly engaging. Thankfully, most long-haul airplanes are fitted with Seat Back Entertainment – thousands of movies and television shows at the touch of the screen.
Utilizing the provided in-flight entertainment is an obvious choice when it comes to being entertained on a flight – but I never solely rely on it because it is not guaranteed.
Not all airlines offer seat-back entertainment – and a few low-cost carriers charge to use it. Sometimes the movie selection is not to my liking. And, in one case, my screen was broken (and – of course – it was on a totally full flight when there were no open seats I could switch to). Therefore, it is essential to be prepared with things to do on long haul flights that don’t involve the provided in-flight entertainment.
Long Haul Travel Tips for Entertainment
Earphones are travel essentials for long haul flights. In fact, I always bring two pairs…just in case one breaks or somehow gets lost. Noise reducing headphones are an absolute dream on planes and definitely worth the upgrade if you don’t already have them. If you use wireless headphones, remember to bring the charger (and a back up pair, too!).
Fully charged devices (phones, tablets or laptops) are another one of the essentials for long haul flights. Even with a full charge, however, bring a power cord. Many seats now have USB ports where you can charge your device, but – just in case – we recommend bringing a portable charger on board, too (it’s not supposed to be in your checked luggage anyway). Additionally, make sure you download any music, books or apps that you will want to use in-flight prior to arriving at the airport.
Non-electronic entertainment is another one of our long-haul essentials. I usually have a book (an actual, paper book) that I can read, but sometimes I will opt for a newspaper or magazine. (Love with a Chance of Drowning and The Yellow Envelope are two excellent travel books!)
The quiet time on a plane also provides an excellent opportunity to journal. As I always carry a notebook and pen, sometimes I write or jot down notes about my trip (but these cool travel journals are good for trips, too).
If you have travel companions, playing cards are good for long-haul flight entertainment, too. War and Rummy are two easy card games to play in flight – and, if you are flying solo, you can always play a game of Solitaire.
Playing cards are an everyday item that we recommend travelers pack for their trip. Find more tips for Everyday Items for Travel!
Long Haul Flight Snacks and Water
Food is one of my long-haul flight must-haves! Regardless of whether the airline serves included meals during the flight, I bring my own snacks and a water bottle on the plane.
Long Haul Flying Tips: Food and Drink
While I am not a traveler that snubs my nose at plane food (I actually usually like it!), there are some instances where the offered dish is not to my liking…or simply not filling enough. To stave off any hunger pangs during the trip, I bring a few healthy snacks in my carryon. Almonds, apples and granola bars are my go-to things to bring on long flights, as they are easy to pack and more filling than greasy chips. (That said, some airlines do provide snacks – check what is available in the galley.)
Gum, mints and hard candies are something else we carry with us on flights. Chewing gum and sucking on hard candy can help to equalize the pressure in your ears (because swallowing opens the Eustachian Tubes) – so we like to have a piece of gum or candy on the descent. Furthermore, gum and mints can help freshen your breath after a long flight!
Drinking water is available to passengers throughout the flight (although some budget airlines might charge for it!) – but I still prefer to bring my own water bottle. Having a closed container of water is much more preferable to the cups of water many airlines provide (as I can tuck it into the seat back pocket). A collapsible water bottle is great for travelers! Once through security, fill up your bottle before you board your flight.
Long Haul Flight Hacks
Now that you have your travel outfit selected, your list of things to bring for long flights and advice for what to do on a long-haul flight, we have a few more long-haul flight tips and tricks!
Money Advice for Long-Haul Flights
While most commercial airlines include food, beverage and seat-back entertainment in the price of the ticket, low cost carriers that fly long-haul routes do not. If you are flying with a budget airline, cash and credit cards is one of the things to bring for a long flight!
Best Apps for Long-Haul Flights
Some good, free apps to download (and set up!) before you take flight are Audible (for audiobooks) and Spotify (for music). We also highly recommend downloading the app for the airline you are flying; they often have movies and other entertainment available for free on your device while in flight – as well as access to other pertinent flight information.
How To Survive Long Haul Flights in Economy
Riding in economy on long-haul flights can by a struggle. That said, there are a few travel hacks that can exponentially increase your chances of surviving a long-haul flight in economy.
An on-board foot hammock helps to elevate your feet for a more comfortable flight…even in cramped spaces. You can also upgrade your flying experience with a fun in-flight cocktail kit (these contain no alcohol and you must follow your airline’s on-board rules!).
Carry On for Long Haul Flight
With all of the cords and gadgets for long haul flights, carry on luggage can get messy…and things can get lost. We recommend that you organize your belongings with a Grid It Organizer so that you can easily find what you need in your bag during the flight.
Flight Essentials Kit
Packing for a long-haul flight can be a daunting task. However, if you have a pre-packed long-haul flight survival kit, it will make the chore of packing an absolute breeze. To create your long-haul travel kit, start with your long-haul flight checklist (or get ours here!).
Identify all of the items on your list that you can leave packed in the long-haul flight kit (things like earplugs, sleep mask, water bottle, extra charging cords, etc) – gather them in a bag or storage box and check those off your list. Then, as your next trip approaches, all you need to do is grab the items already set to go from your long-haul flight travel kit – and then gather and pack the remaining items from your list.
For tips on booking long haul flights, check out our post, How To Book the Best Flights!
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