Carry-on Essentials That Make Long-Haul Flights More Bearable!

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What’s the longest flight you’ve ever been on? I think for me, it was the time I flew from Germany to Australia. That involved two full days of travel as I went from Frankfurt to Abu Dhabi, to Singapore, to Brisbane, to Townsville. Are you still awake? I know I barely was by the time I set foot off that fourth flight.

Travel can often be made to look glamorous on blogs and Instagram feeds, but if you’ve done one of these long-haul flights yourself, you know they are no joke – especially if you’re flying economy!

Carry-on Essentials That Make Long-Haul Flights More Bearable!

For today’s post I thought I’d write up a list of carry-on essentials that help make long-haul flights a bit more bearable.

Carry-On Travel Essentials:

Carry-on Essentials for Long-Haul Flights. Here's what to pack in your carry on luggage!

Sleep & Comfort

Neck pillow – To avoid a stiff neck after a long flight.

Silk eye mask – So you can sleep regardless of whether it’s daylight or the lights are one in the cabin.

Warm socks – I’m always freezing on planes, so even if I’m travelling to a warm destination that will require flip flops, I also pack a pair of warm fuzzy socks for the flight.

Pashmina –  It’s multipurpose plus it keeps me warm.

Hoodie or wrap cardigan – Did I already mention I’m always cold on planes?

Leggings – Because they are super comfortable and probably more acceptable than changing into pyjamas.

Entertainment & Work

Kindle – I always keep my Kindle handy and loaded with 2-3 books. It’s a nice way to pass time after watching a few movies.

Earphones – I used to think all earphones were created equal until my husband got me a pair that changed everything. I always thought audio was really bad on airplanes, but that’s just because I was using the cheap earphones they hand out in flight. I don’t carry large noise-cancelling ones because of their size, but that’s something to consider if you’re really into music and films.

Camera – To capture those spectacular sunrises and sunsets views if you luck out with a window seat.

Phone – I normally don’t use my phone in flight, but I keep it fully charged in my carry-on bag for when I arrive at my destination. I save a map of the area on Google Maps, plot my hotel, and also make notes of transport options and any contact numbers I may need once I land.

USB to Micro USB cable – A lot of planes have USB ports nowadays (though some airlines still have some catching up to do!), which makes it a lot easier to charge things like your phone or Kindle in flight. I keep a charger in my bag just in case any of my electronics run low on battery.

Laptop – While I’m not one to pull out my laptop mid-flight (I find that the space is a little too cramped!) I know some people like to write or do a bit of photo editing while they’re up in the air.

Notebook + pen – To scribble ideas and reminders, plus it’s a good idea to keep a few pens handy for filling out immigration forms once you arrive.

Beauty & Cleansing

Toothpaste + toothbrush – If you’re on a long overnight flight, the airline may hand out small complimentary toiletry kits, but I personally like to carry my own just in case.

Deodorant – Pretty self explanatory.

Wet wipes – Because that’s as close as you’re going to get to a shower.

Lip balm – I hate the feeling of dry lips so I always keep lip balm in my carry-on as well as spares in my luggage. I really like the EOS lip balm (the fun shape has something to do with it) or a stick of Nivea chapstick.

HairbrushEspecially if you have long hair. Even a travel-sized one will do.

Dry shampoo – Greatest invention ever! I first discovered dry shampoo about two years ago and now I don’t travel without it. It’s not just great in-flight (you’ll want something under 100mL in your carry-on), but it’s also great for days when you don’t feel like washing your hair.

Hydrating face mist – Another product that blew my mind the first time I tried it! Airplanes are really dry and this is such a nice way to rehydrate your skin (again you’ll want to ensure it’s a travel-friendly under 100mL bottle).

Now it’s over to you:

What’s the longest flight you’ve ever been on?

What were some of your carry-on essentials on that flight?

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Join the Conversation


  1. says: Pam

    My longest flight was Beijing to Toronto via Dubai. Definitely a sweater, lip chap, and because I was on my way home I did take out my computer to start sorting through all the photos!

    1. says: Audrey Bergner

      That does sound like a long way to go! I’ve only ever done the journey to Asia in the opposite direction over the Pacific. I wonder what the time difference is between the two routes…

  2. says: Mel

    Awesome tips. Long haul flights can be so very unbearable. I never go anywhere without my stash of wetwipes ;). And yes, I think the Europe-Australia flights are some of the longest. argh! But so worth it in the end 😉

  3. says: Mary

    Mine would have to be EO Hand Sanitizer Spray! Its great to help you feel a little clean again and it also smells like lavender, so it basically doubles as a perfume. I agree with the dry shampoo and toothbrush for sure!

  4. says: Janice

    My longest flight was Santorini – Athens – Frankfurt – Toronto – Winnipeg with the lay-overs of course, and then the drive home since I live a distance from Winnipeg. I could hardly stand up and stay awake by then. LOL I always bring a few snack items along for those long hauls, along with the items you recommended. A new item I have discovered is the In-flight app where you can download magazines for free when you are in an airport. Kind of nice to have some light reading/browsing along the way. Love your blog! Have been following you for a few years now.

    1. says: Audrey Bergner

      That sounds tiring just reading it! I feel pretty lucky that I’ve been living in major cities over the past few years so I haven’t had to deal with the long drive home from the airport. It’s pretty nice having it just a short drive away.

  5. says: as

    My longest flight was last week: victoria falls – johannesburg – dubai – toronto (dubai-toronto 15 hrs!) I like to bring sore throat/nasal congestion candy for the road – I have chronic cold/throat problems which get worse on the plane. It also serves as breath freshener and makes you a bit drowsy which helps falling asleep. Plus it’s preventive (I often caught something on the plane).

    1. says: Audrey Bergner

      Thanks for the tip! I’ve also had a few people tell me that they load up on Vitamin C candies and ginger candies for long haul flights – also preventive.

  6. says: Lily La

    I always see people travelling in jeans and I have no idea how they do it. I find them so uncomfortable on a plane – I much prefer sweats or legging. Also, love wet wipes, makes me feel refreshed even at my most tiresome.

    1. says: Audrey Bergner

      Same here, I couldn’t handle a long flight in a pair of jeans. I could maybe see it working if it were a super stretchy pair of skinny jeans, but then you may as well put on a pair of dark leggings. Looks the same, feels so much better!

  7. says: Tina

    My longest flight was Singapore to Philadelphia via Doha and then a month later Philadelphia to Kuala Lumpur…in economy. I love the basic toiletries mentioned and I typically have the same things in my carry on (pen, paper, camera etc.) I also make a habit of having at least one full change of clothes just in case my luggage gets lost. In fact, I put everything in my carry on that I just can’t risk having lost??

    1. says: Audrey Bergner

      I’ve also started carrying one spare outfit in my carry-on when I have a series of flights with short connections. My luggage once got lost for 3 days and it just so happened to be a national holiday when I arrived at my destination, so I couldn’t go shopping for clothes right away.

  8. says: Rachel

    Great list!! My longest flight was over 50 hours long from Nashville – Philadelphia – North Carolina – Michigan – Las Vegas – Los Angeles – Melbourne – Perth. I wanted to cry!!

  9. says: Andrea

    I have an upcoming trip.
    Mexico-Florida (with a Layover of 10hrs) -Oslo(Layover of 19 hrs)-Paris, then a train to Marseille with an hour drive to Avignon.
    Thanks for the list I wont take it for granted!

  10. says: Luminita

    Ebooks, headphones and a camera. Those are the essential items that I never forget when I go on a trip. I always forget about the neck pillow, although I always say I’ll bring one…

  11. says: Tiago balas

    From Morocco to Cape Verde- Marrakech-Madrid-Santiago-Gran Canaria-Sal(Cape Verde)
    From Cape Verde to Dubai- Sal-Gran Canaria-Madrid-Milano-Bucharest-Dubai

  12. says: Heather

    Boston to New York to Johannesburg to Windhoek. The NYC to Johannesburg flight was 18 hours and I had a migraine for half of it. Now I NEVER forget ibuprofen or SOMETHING. Also tissues. Plane flights often give me a runny nose.

    Thanks for the wet wipes tip! Might try that one!

  13. says: Jon

    Longest flight I’ve ever been on was probably London to Hong Kong several years ago before IFE, iPhones and Tablets were a thing… plus middle seats (ugh). Most recent longest flight was LA to Tokyo.

    Essentials for me is of course my phone, loaded up with TV Shows I’m trying to catch up with. I’m so thankful that Netflix now allows us to download movies or TV shows to watch offline. Other items are of course a pair of noise canceling headphones, all the necessary charging cables, bottle of water, gum.

    Another thing I try to do is when I book the flight, I take into the consideration the airline I’m going to fly with as well as the type of plane. I’m hoping that I can book a good airline on a relatively new plane that comes with things like power outlets, a good IFE, etc. I will actually pay a bit more if I can get my preferred airline over flying on another carrier. Its one of the things I’m willing to spend a bit more on.

  14. says: Nasuha

    The longest flight I have been was to Christchurch, New Zealand and to Ternate, North of Maluku from Malaysia. However, since I was too exhausted during my trip to New Zealand, I slept almost every time I changed flight (KL, Malaysia – Melbourne, Australia – Christchurch, New Zealand). Thus, my flight to Ternate (KL – Jakarta – Makassar – Ternate) was when I had prepared all the necessary things for the longest and challenging flight in my life. Since I don’t have camera, I brought 3 spare batteries, 2 USB cable, 1 power bank and 1 travel (fast) charger for my smartphone. I’m using my phones to take pictures, listen to music, watch videos and play games. I brought as well 2 books for me to read while listening to music. You might asked whether my phones is still ok or not ^_^

    I’m glad to say, my Samsung Note 3, despite my heavy usage during my travel, remain the best companion until now. I have brought and used it since 2016 and had travel to 4 countries so far.

  15. says: Ruben

    My longest so far was from Austin > Newark > Athens at appx 14.5 hrs back in 2011. It was my first international flight and besides a change of clothes, camera gear and my laptop, I can’t remember what else I packed on my carry on. I’m actually going on another trip next month, Austin > Dallas > Lima > Cusco, with approximate 14hrs travel time, so your list will help for sure. Thanks and safe travels 🙂

  16. says: Anna

    I’ve found that eye drops and face wipes also help me feel revitalized after long flights – plus the wipes will hopefully make me smell a little better, too!

  17. says: Nat

    Those are some great products! I like that you’re not the kind of person to bring essential oils on the plane. It’s so inconsiderate to your fellow travelers, especially on long-haul flights. I have asthma and would probably ring someone’s neck if they started spraying strong scents around the plane.

    My must-haves are: the Kiehl’s Cactus Spray and a Rituals aroma roll-on.
    The Kiehl’s spray refreshes your face and smells really nice and the roll-on also has a nice scent and uses a cooling agent, so if you feel a headache coming on, you can put it on your stress points and forehead.

  18. says: Clariza

    Cough drops, Purell wipes bc they have sufficient alcohol to sanitize, a large scarf I can tie so that it cradles my head and is adjustable, Olay face wash sheets (these are the greatest clean up on the go product beside the Purell wipes) and layers for warmth. Next trip considering using Tylenol pm to help with sleep and aches from sitting so much.

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