Long-haul flights don’t have to be an ordeal. Packing these items will help make your journey as comfortable as possible and leave you raring to go when you reach your destination.
Khalifa Tower view © ZAAAZO
A flight can go either way. The cabin temperature may be off, leaving you feeling cold or stuffy. Your plane might be stuck on the tarmac before take-off or get caught in a holding pattern, waiting to land. Too much pressure in the cabin can leave you with a headache. And in-flight snacks and entertainment can be unpredictable.
It’s easy to improve your experience with a little preparation and a few simple accessories. This list will help make flying more comfortable, so you can arrive in the best possible shape.
Cabin Luggage For A Long-Haul Flight
A good flying experience begins by being ready for the airport and having your passport, tickets, and other documents where you can find them. Leave plenty of time to check-in and drop off any hold luggage – it can be hard to predict how big lines will be. Make sure your cabin bag is the right size and weight, so you don’t have any problems when it’s time to clear security and board the plane.
You’ll find airport security a much smoother affair if you understand the limits around liquids and devices, and separate them from your hand luggage in advance. Put keys, watches, belts, cash, and other loose items into your jacket pocket. Then you can take this off as you reach the scanners and put it in the tray to be checked. Wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off and try to avoid wearing a belt at the airport. On a good day, you can be thru security within 10 minutes.
- Cabin Bag – There’s a vast range of cabin bags, all made to standard airline specifications, so this is a matter of personal preference. Beware, though, not all airlines offer the same allowance on cabin bags, so check sizes before you fly, otherwise you may end up having to check your luggage in the hold for an unexpected fee. Airports have lots of stairs, so I tend go for something with carrying handles or shoulder straps. You may prefer a bag with wheels. Though a boxy case with a hard shell fits snugly in the cabin space and seems to offer more protection, a softer bag squashes into smaller spaces and will actually receive preferential treatment from the airline if they’re short of space in the overhead lockers.
- Clear Cosmetic Bags – Any carry-on liquids need to be declared at security, so a see-thru bag for things like shower gel is mandatory. If you pack small travel bottles snugly together, it is convenient both for airport security but also for easy access on the airplane. Pick something durable and waterproof in case something accidentally leaks.
- Face mask – COVID is still very active in many countries and you may be required to wear an SFP2 facemask on the plane and in some indoor spaces. It’s also a good idea to carry a small bottle of hand sanitiser when you travel.
- Travel Cube – It’s a good idea to put anything you’ll need on the flight into a separate travel cube. You’ll be able to grab what you’re looking for without rummaging thru your case.
- Passport Cover – A decent cover will protect your passport from damage and keeps all boarding cards and other transit documents well organized. Alternatively, a sturdy travel billfold will also keep your cash, cards, and documents tucked away. The Lewis N. Clark RFID Security Wallet is the right size for passports and other necessities, but is still comfortable under clothing.
- Travel Organizer – Similarly, you can group small electronic items like powerbanks, MP3 players, and handheld games consoles in a separate travel organizer, like the AmazonBasics Universal Travel Case. This will keep them nice and tidy and make them easier to declare.
Staying Comfortable During A Long-Haul Flight
Sitting upright in cramped and pressurized conditions for a long duration can do strange things to the body, especially when you’re eating meals. The stomach can feel bloated, legs and feel can swell up, and the whole shoulder area can feel tense and tender. The following suggestions will help you with each of these, so you can get as comfortable as possible.
- What To Wear – If you’re wearing tight clothes and shoes on a flight, you’ll soon know about it, especially after a meal. You’ll feel much better if you wear something looser. Lounge pants will let your body adjust to the pressurized air in the cabin. Travel slippers or slipper socks are much kinder to your feet than laced-up shoes. You can change into these once you’ve boarded the airplane. Women should invest in a comfortable, well-fitted bra.
- Compression Socks – The combination of physical inactivity and cabin pressure on a long flight can result in swollen feet and ankles, and even an increased risk of thrombosis. Compression socks can help regulate your blood flow. KKUP2U Compression Socks are designed for long-haul flights.
- Basic Change Of Clothes – It’s very easy to spill a drink over yourself during a flight, so carry a spare t-shirt with a backup pair of socks and underwear.
- Travel Pillows – A good travel pillow can seriously make all the difference if you’re trying to sleep. A high-end pillow has memory foam to give your neck and shoulders full support.
- Eye Shades – For those of us flying in budget, the secret of a good sleep is to cut out all sensory input. An effective eye cover is snug without being too tight and needs to block out all light.
- Earplugs – Blocking out sound is the other piece of the puzzle. Comfortable earplugs will help you doze off, no matter how noisy the engines or surrounding chatter. Cirrus Healthcare EarPlanes are designed specifically for air travel. If you’d rather listen to music in the air, then a good pair of noise canceling headphones are highly recommended. These will cut down on ambient noise without needing to boost the volume to dangerous levels. Sony’s MDRZX110NC Noise Canceling Headphones are reasonably priced but conveniently foldable for storage. Wireless noise-canceling headphones, though more expensive, are less vulnerable to travel damage.
- Blanket Or Wrap – Airplane cabins can get very chilly, particularly on overnight flights, so a warm blanket or travel wrap can be the perfect solution. Some of these, like the 4-in-1 Travel Blanket, can be very elaborate and others can fold down to handheld size. Pick something soft and light that won’t take up too much room, but with thermal properties like fleece.
- Snacks And Drinks – The availability of food and drink on an airplane can be unpredictable, so it’s wise to carry a bottle of water and some emergency snacks. Buy these airside to save hassle with security. Staying hydrated is key, so drink plenty of water during the flight and cut back on the coffee and alcohol.
- Medicines And Medication – If you use a prescribed medicine, make sure you bring them in their original packaging with a copy of your prescription. Cabin conditions can have an adverse affect on how you feel. Prepare for this with a small pack of the following medications. Keep these in their original packaging as well.
- Pain Relief – Headaches caused by cabin conditions and travel tiredness can make a long flight miserable. Make sure you have a small supply of over-the-counter pain killers such as paracetamol. Ibuprofen Lysine is good for relaxing muscle ache and tension.
- Sleep Aids – Many people have trouble sleeping in transit, even with the aid of masks and ear plugs. Ask your local drugstore to recommend an over-the-counter sleep aid, like melatonin.
- Antihistamines – Popping an antihistamine at the start of a journey can counteract the sneezes brought on by recirculated air on planes.
- Moisturizer – Long flights will leave you feeling dry, so keeping your skin fully hydrated will help. Treat yourself to a fancy brand like CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion or Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream from an airport store before you fly.
- Chapstick – Don’t forget to keep your lips moist with a small stick or tin of Chapstick. Burt’s Bees is a good choice.
- Breath Freshener – Pack some mints or chewing gum to help keep your mouth fresh.
- Tissues And Sanitizing Hand Wipes – A pack of tissues is useful for dozens of little emergencies, whereas some sanitizing hand wipes are great for a little energy boost and can even cool you down.
Entertainment Accessories For A Comfortable Long-Haul Flight
Not everyone can sleep during a flight. In fact, long-distance travel is a great excuse to binge on a TV series, finish a game, or listen to an audiobook as you relax and watch the world spin by outside your window.
- Kindle Reader – Lightweight and easy on the eye, the Amazon Kindle is perfect for flying. You can load it up with a huge library of books, periodicals, and graphic novels, without worrying about battery drain.
- iPad or Android Tablet – Though heavier and less durable, a tablet can offer unlimited entertainment. You load it up with audiobooks, movies, TV shows, games, music, and more from Amazon, iTunes, or Google Play before you travel.
- Games Console – A handheld console could be all you need to while away a 10-hour flight. The Nintendo Switch offers HD gaming and a good range of different titles to choose from.
- Powerbank – Don’t assume you’ll be close to a power supply at the airport and there’s no guarantee that the aircraft will have a USB slot for recharging devices. But you’ll have enough battery juice to get you thru if you carry a fully-charged powerbank in your day bag.
One of the best things to do once you’ve landed and are safely in the airport is to find a rest room to freshen up. You can have a quick all-over wash with some body wipes and put on some deodorant. Then change your t-shirt, socks and underwear. Clean your teeth with a travel brush and paste or a waterless toothbrush and sort your hair out with a travel brush. You’ll feel completely rejuvenated and raring to get on with your vacation.