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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 – or, dare I say, fun. We love long flights (and actually 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 that makes traveling by plane a breeze!
Why Long Haul Flight Essentials are a Travel Necessity
Any plane journey over 6 hours is considered a long haul flight – and 6-plus hours is a long time to sit in a seat surrounded by strangers. While first class seats are, without a doubt, the most comfortable way to travel, the high price is a hindrance for most passengers.
Don’t fret! Travelers can experience comfort in economy seating by packing the essentials for a long haul flight.
We are covering the details of our Long Flight Essentials List that covers everything from clothing to entertainment – and even a few little luxuries – that will make the experience just a touch better.
Creating a List of Travel Essentials for Long-Haul Flights
To be honest, 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. With my travel hacks for long flights, I only look forward to enjoying the ride.
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.
Our list highlights the long haul essentials that you will want for your plane trip. Want a printed list? Get your FREE Printable Long Haul Flight Essentials list here!
Pro Tip: With only a few variations, this list can be used for long haul bus travel as well!
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 before we get to our list of Must Haves for Long Flights, let’s talk about clothing first.
Comfort Clothing: Long Flights Essentials
As you prepare for your plane journey, 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, some airlines provide them in First Class!).
Outfit Tips for Long Haul Flight
Because what you wear has such a big impact on your comfort, we have quite a few outfit tips for a long haul flight.
#1 Wear Layers
Wearing layers is one of the top tips on how to survive long flights in economy – or in any seat on the plane, to be truthful! Planes can be hot…and planes can be cold, and then hot again. And you, as a passenger, have no control over the thermostat.
Therefore, one of the best travel hacks for long flights is to wear layered clothing so that you are able to stay comfortable regardless of the stifling heat or cold air con.
#2 Elastic Waistband or Loose Dress Tips for Long Flights
It is common for most people to experience some swelling while flying – especially on long haul flights – so it is best to combat the swelling by wearing loose-fitting clothing or pants that offer a little stretch.
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.
#3 Long Flight Hack for Women: Dress and Leggings Combo
One of the best Long Flight Hacks for outfits for women is to wear a loose dress – and leggings under the dress. The stretchy material of leggings makes it easy to move around the plane, stow luggage in the overhead compartment and get situated in your seat.
Furthermore, wearing leggings under a dress can help to keep you warm if the plane is frigidly cold…but if it gets too hot on the plane (which is often does during a flight), you can remove your leggings layer (possibly without even getting up from your seat!) to help you regulate your body temperature.
#4 Wear Things for a Long Flight that Add Style
An easy way to create a stylish long-haul flight outfit without sacrificing comfort is to add a simple accessory. Dress up your casual clothing with a colorful scarf or jewelry (but avoid rings that may feel too tight with swelling).
BONUS TIP: My Best Outfit for Long Haul Flight
I, personally, like to wear a loose-fitting dress as my long-haul travel outfit. Typically, when I fly I wear a loose casual dress (preferably with short sleeves). To complete my outfit, I layer it with leggings under the dress, a thin hoodie over the dress and sandals or slip on shoes.
Pro Tip: Read more about travel footwear in our article breaking down the Best Travel Shoes!
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.
#5 Top Tips for Long Haul Flight Clothes: Bring a Wrap
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, head cover or seat cover. It is one of the favorite items on my Packing List!
#6 What To Pack for a Long Haul Flight: Underwear
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 plane bathroom before touching down (or in the airport bathroom on arrival). It just feels so much cleaner to start off in a city with a fresh pair!
#7 Extra Outfit: Best Long Flight Hacks
While a fresh pair of panties is one of my carry on essentials for long flights, for ultra long flights that are 12+ hour journeys, I like to pack a complete outfit change.
Donning a clean shirt, pants and undergarments feels so much better at the end of a long flight! I also advise freshening up – and I share my list of essential toiletries for long-haul flights a bit later in the article.
#8 Compression Socks are Long Flight Must Haves
It makes sense to pack socks for long haul flights for when cabin temperatures are too cold. 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). Plus, they will keep your feet warm.
Pro Tip: I wait to put my compression socks on until right before I board the plane. This way, I am wearing a clean pair of socks for the journey – and I even use a wet wipe (more about those later) to clean my toes before I put the clean socks on my feet.
#9 What To Take on Long Flights: Slippers
I think slippers are one of the Ultra Long Haul Flight Must Haves. Cozy plane slippers that have a rubber sole and are machine washable are ideal.
This way, you can keep your feet warm while on the plane – and you can still get up and walk around in the slippers during the flight. Plus, because of the rubber sole, you can wear them into the plane bathroom.
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, a face covering may still be required for travel, so it’s a good idea to pack at least one (but it’s better to have two).
Top Tip: Find out more in our article, How To Stay Healthy While Traveling.
#10 What To Take on Long Flights: Antibacterial Sanitizer and Wipes
Traveling with antibacterial sanitizer and wipes just makes good sense – and it is one of our top Long Haul Flight Health Tips, too.
In fact, 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.
Pro Tip: Invest in a Long Flight Survival Kit that includes everything you need! An airplane germ-fighting kit is a great gift for travelers who will be taking long flights. For more travel gift tips, use our Top Unique Gifts for Travelers!
#11 Mini First Aid Kit is a Must Have for Long Haul Flights
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), anti-diarrheal (just in case), pain relievers (like aspirin) and a few Band-aids – because, in general, these are just good items to have on hand.
A few other items that might make your Just In Case list of long flight necessities are tissues, nose saline and eye drops.
Pro Tip: I used to wear contacts – and quickly learned that bringing a pair of glasses on board is one of the long haul flight travel essentials for contact wearers! In fact, it might be best to take your contacts out prior to boarding and plan on wearing your glasses for the duration of the long flight.
#12 Disposable Toothbrushes are Good Things to Take on a Long Flight
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 as a one-time use toothbrush to be used without water, so I can brush and toss. If my only row mate is my husband, I can even 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).
Additionally, flossers are good things to bring on a long flight so that you can even better clean in between your teeth.
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. I think they are the two best items for long flights to help your skin. That said, there are many beauty essentials for a long flight and I highlight those, as well.
#13 Long Haul Flight Tips for Skincare: Lip Balm and Moisturizer
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 can be used on my face, too – and I apply both the lotion and the lip balm liberally throughout the flight.
#14 Hydration Beauty Travel Essentials Long Flight
A hydrating face mist – like the one by Mario Badescu – can help your skin feel fantastic, even on a long flight. The facial spray is infused with aloe, herbs and rosewater to aid in rejuvenating your skin.
Another popular facial mist is the Evian Water Spritz. The micro-droplet mist hydrates your skin with pure Evian water. As with all liquid products that you take on a plane, be sure to bring the TSA approved travel size!
#15 Long Airplane Trip Essentials for Freshening Up
Some of the best items for long haul flights are the ones that revive and refresh you – even after a long redeye flight. We already talked about brushing teeth, but there are a few more things you can do to feel refreshed.
Wondering what to bring on a long haul flight for your hair? Try a Dry Shampoo that will absorb oils and grease for a fresh-washed look.
Bonus Travel Beauty Tips Long Flights: No Make Up
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 and clothes – I can wash my face and apply minimal makeup (so be sure to keep that in your carry on luggage, too!)
How To Survive Long Haul Flights in Economy Comfortably
Everyone knows that economy seats on a long flight are a bit uncomfortable (okay, maybe more than ‘a bit’). However, with the right economy essentials for a long haul flight, the ride can be so much more pleasant. As full-time travelers – with limited luggage space – these are not items that we personally use. However, I have to admit that when I notice my row mates using them, I am panged with jealousy.
#16 Airplane Hacks for Long Flights in Economy: A Seat Cushion
A memory foam seat cushion can make all the difference in a standard economy plane seat. This seat cushion is designed with travelers in mind – and is not only comfortable and supportive, by breathable and compact.
The Therm-a-Rest self-inflating seat cushion can also be used for long plane journeys – and it weights just 4 ounces.
#17 Best Travel Items for Long Flights for Comfort: Foot Hammock
Riding in economy on long-haul flights can by a struggle. That said, there are a few travel hacks – like the tray table foot hammock – 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. The foot sling is also designed to prevent swelling.
#18 Fun Things for Long Flights
Want a first-class experience in economy seating? 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!).
The mini portable kits allow you to create a tasty cocktail so that you can enjoy an exceptional drink (in a much less expensive seat).
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 – but we have several sleepy time travel tips for long flights.
#19 Long Haul Flying Tips for Sleeping In-Flight: Wear an Eye Mask
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.
#20 Ear Plugs are the Best Things for Long Flights
We usually use cheap earplugs on flights – but light sleepers may benefit from noise canceling silicone sleeping ear plugs, like these.
Additionally, 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.
#21 What To Take on a Long Haul Flight: Travel Pillows
Most airlines offer pillows (and blankets) to all passengers – even those in economy – for longer flights, so you don’t necessarily need to bring your own pillow for plane travel. That said, a good travel pillow can be the difference between peacefully sleeping on a plane and struggling to fall asleep.
Luckily, I can sleep anywhere – so flight pillows for long haul flights are not an item we carry.
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 earns rave reviews.
#22 Sleep Remedy Long Flight Tips
Many travelers sing the praises of taking a sleep remedy in order to get a little shut eye on a long haul flight.
A natural sleep remedy, like melatonin, or prescribed pills by your doctor might help you get the sleep you need on a plane. Before deciding to take anything on a flight, however, check with your doctor first. And, never try taking any remedy for the first time on an airplane.
Pro Tip: Lavender essential oil aromatherapy is also highly touted to help people get a few zzz’s on a flight – but, like with any fragrance on a plane, consider your neighboring passengers.
#23 White Noise or Meditation Apps for Long Distance Flight
Meditation and white noise apps are must haves for long plane rides – especially if you are a light sleeper! Coupled with a good pair of headphones (which we get to in the next section), you can enjoy pure bliss on your flight.
We recommend finding the right app long before your scheduled flight – and even try it out a few times to ensure it will help lull you to sleep. Make sure the app is downloaded to your phone and ready to go before your flight.
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.
#24 Long Haul Travel Tips for Entertainment: Noise Canceling Headphones
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 wired pair, too, as you may need them to utilize the seat back entertainment options).
#25 Best Apps for Long-Haul Flights
We already covered using apps to help you sleep on flights, but there are a few other apps that we think are long plane trip essentials.
That said, perhaps the very best apps for long flights are for the airline carrier you are flying. When you download the free flight carrier app, you typically have access to all of the movies and other digital entertainment options offered by the airline while in flight. Plus, you will have access to other pertinent flight information – like time left in flight, route maps and meal info.
#26 What To Bring on Long Flight: Power Bank and Chargers
One of the absolute essentials for long haul flights is fully charged devices. You do not want to board a flight without fully charged phones, tablets or laptops.
Even with a full charge, however, power cords are long haul plane essentials. Many seats now have USB ports where you can charge your device. (Check on SeatGuru to see if your seat has one, but keep in mind that things – planes and seats – can always change).
Just in case, however, we recommend bringing a portable charger on board, too (it’s not supposed to be in your checked luggage anyway).
As we already mentioned, make sure you download any music, books or apps that you will want to use in-flight prior to arriving at the airport.
#27 Non-Digital Hacks for Long Flights
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!)
Puzzle books – like Word Search, Crosswords and Sudoku – can provide hours of entertainment. For the sake of space, we recommend buying an all-in-one activity book that includes a variety of puzzles.
The quiet time on a plane also provides an excellent opportunity to journal, sketch or draw. 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.
#28 Long Haul Flying Tips: Food that is Healthy
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, salty chips. (That said, some airlines do provide snacks – check what is available in the galley.)
#29 Best Hacks for Long Flights: Candies and Gum
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!
#30 Water is a Must Have for Long Flights
Staying hydrated can help make plane travel a lot more comfortable (both during the flight and especially after!).
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 tiny 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. Throughout the flight, you can ask the flight attendant for refills, too.
More 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!
What Bag To Pack for Long Flight
Our tips for a long-haul flight include the best items that will make plane travel more comfortable and pleasant. However, when determining what to pack for a long haul flight, it is just as important to consider your actual packing strategy – as in, what bag to stow at your feet and how to pack it.
The items that we listed as long flight essentials should be within reach – even when the seatbelt sign is illuminated. Because they need to be easily accessible, it is best to pack these items in a good day bag that is stowed at your feet under the seat in front of you.
Carry On for Long Haul Flight Tips
With all of the cords and gadgets for long haul flights, carry on luggage can get messy…and things can get lost.
Because space is limited, it is best to use a bag that can easily be organized with multiple compartments and pockets.
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.
Make a Personalized 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.
Long Flight Tips for Exercise
Long haul flight exercises are a good 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.
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!
What To Do on Long Flights to Avoid Jet Lag
It is likely that your long haul flight will cross time zones – which often results in dreaded jet lag on arrival. However, there are a few ways to avoid it!
Stay hydrated and avoid drinking alcohol on the flight. Before you start to snooze, adjust your sleep cycle to coincide with your arrival city. You can use an app, like Timeshifter, to help time out your sleep schedule.
Herbal remedies, like No Jet Lag pills, can also help – but talk to your doctor first.
Whether taking a long haul flight or making a short trip to the state next door, trip insurance can come in handy if things go awry. If you haven’t already booked travel insurance for your next vacation, check the affordable rates and robust coverage at World Nomads.
Get our advice on booking cheap long haul flights, How To Book the Best Flights!
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