UGH, long flights… I know! When I was a little kid, I used to love flying long distances because I get to watch movies and eat airplane food. But as I get older, my body starts to give up whenever it’s time for me to get on a 10+ hour flight across the world. After almost dying after each flight, I realized that I need to change something up in order to survive long haul flights like a pro. Apart from making the necessary preparations before departure, what you bring with you in your carry-on can also make a huge difference in the overall experience of your flight! So today, I’m here to share with you a few recommendations on what to pack in a carry-on so that you can survive long lights while looking classy.
What To Pack In A Carry On?
I used to think that neck pillows were pretty unnecessary, until I got the middle seat on a 10-hour flight to Japan! And let me tell you, it was absolute torture to my body and spirit. I would fall asleep one second, and then wake up out of fear because my head was almost touching my neighbor’s shoulder. One of the reasons why I resisted neck pillows before was that I felt that it took up too much space. And I didn’t like carrying extra things on my hand. But since this neck pillow is inflatable, it’s so much more space-conserving. And most importantly, it makes my middle-seat experience much more bearable.
I know some people hate it when others take their shoes off on a plane. But honestly, I’m not against it! As long as the feet don’t smell, and they’re not rude about it (like sticking their feet in other people’s faces). Though, I do think that wearing slippers or slides is much more sanitary than just strolling around bare feet. So if you want to get real comfortable on your flight, I recommend bringing a pair of slippers and changing into it after taking off.
Gals and boys, we gotta keep the lips juicy and smooth wherever we go. Whether it’s to the grocery store, to the mall, or at the airport! Airplane cabins are known to be extremely dry because they’re always blasting cold air in your face. And after 10+ hours of dry air touching your lips, they’re bound to be crispy dry. So make sure to pop a chapstick into your carry-on so that you can stay looking moisturized when you land at your destination.
Just like chapstick, lotion is another absolute must for staying moisturized on a long-haul flight. I remember forgetting to bring my lotion in my carry-on once, and the look of my ashy elbows almost gave me a heart attack. Ooo, thank goodness I was wearing long-sleeves that day, or else I would’ve started digging a hole in the middle of the airport. So if you don’t know what to pack in a carry-on, bring lotion. You can’t go wrong.
Wearing compression socks is beneficial for flights longer than 3 hours if you might be at risk for Deep Vein Thrombosis, or poor circulation. But make sure to put it on correctly (watch this tutorial here) so you don’t end up making your swelling or stagnant blood flow worse.
Even though I’m extremely grateful for the fact that airlines provide blankets for us travelers sitting in economy, lmao! Still, I think the material can be a little bit thicker. Sometimes it’s so freezing cold on the plane that I feel like I might as well go into hibernation. So if you’re like me and your hands and feet are always ice cold. I would recommend bringing your own travel blanket to keep yourself warm and cozy on a long flight.
Noise-canceling headphones can do wonders when it comes to blocking out the screaming baby on the plane. The only downside is that you might not hear the flight attendants when they’re asking you what to eat haha. But if sleep is more important to you, then, by all means, take advantage of these noise-canceling headphones.
8. Mouth Covers (Mask)
If you’re wondering what to bring in a carry on in order to have a good night’s sleep. Mouth covers/masks. Haha! I love them because I don’t have to worry about drooling or people seeing my open mouth while I’m sleeping. And when I’m not self-conscious about my ugly sleep face, I can truly let myself rest 100%. Also, if you find it hard to breathe using a mask, don’t cover your nose.
If you’re more of a visual learner, meaning that you can’t stand audiobooks, then I would recommend getting a Kindle for your long flight. Books are so heavy, and you wouldn’t want to stuff all that extra weight in your carry on bag. And for book-lovers that need to read at least one book a day, Kindle saves so much space when traveling. Also, the paperwhite display puts less strain on your eyes than the blue lights on Ipads.
10. Eye Mask
I’m the type of person that can only fall asleep when the room is absolutely pitch black. Sometimes on the plane, people sitting in front of me will be watching movies, and the blue light definitely affects the quality of my sleep. So for me, eye masks are one of the travel must-haves that I can’t forget to bring on my flights. Also, since this eye mask is 3D, it takes the pressure off my eyeballs and makes it more comfortable to wear than traditional eye masks.
If you don’t want large pores and flaky skin, a moisturizing face cream may be a good item to bring on your long flight. Since airplane cabins are super drying, we have to be on top of our skin routine so that we can step out of the airport looking flawless and moisturized. So, if you’re wondering what to pack in a carry on to maintain your glowing skin, I’d say definitely bring some type of moisturizing face cream.
12. Pen or Pencil
I know you’re wondering, why do we need pens or pencils on a flight? Yea, I didn’t think I needed on either. However, pretty much every country you visit, you will be required to fill out a customs form to declare the items you’re bringing into the country. Usually, the flight attendants will start passing out these forms before landing so you’ll have all your information ready by the time you land. And this is when pens come in handy! If you’re shy like me and don’t want to borrow pens from the person sitting next to you, make sure to bring your own.
13. Toothbrush, Floss & Toothpaste
For a short 5 hour flight, we might be able to get away with just a simple mouth wash to keep our teeth clean. But when it comes to long-haul flights with layovers in between? Girl, mouth wash don’t work no more! We need a toothbrush, floss, and toothpaste to keep our hygiene on point. I always make sure to do my whole routine before boarding the plane and during the flight. Also, make sure to chew gum after eating each meal so that you can keep those pretty teeth fresh and squeaky clean.
Not sure if you guys have seen the iconic Youtube video starring the one and only fashion icon, Naomi Campbell. Please check out Namoi’s Airplane Routine and you’ll understand why I’m recommending disinfecting wipes. Airplane cabins may “look” clean, but in reality, it’s a thousand times dirtier than you think. With hundreds of passengers coming from all over the world, sharing the same space and breathing the same recycled air for 10+ hours. Germs and dirt start accumulating in places that our naked eyes can’t see. So, follow Naomi’s footsteps and get to disinfecting!
15. Passport Holder
This passport holder is probably one of the best things I’ve bought in terms of travel essentials. First of all, I’m a super forgetful person. And it’s pretty sad to admit that I’ve lost my passport 3 times at the airport! But thanks to this neck pouch, I no longer have to worry about losing my most important documents, because it’s on me 24/7. Also, it makes it so much more convenient when going through TSA and the Customs. Since I don’t have to frantically look for my passport and boarding pass.
Power Banks are actual life-savers for anyone that has a sucky phone battery like mine. “Apple! You need to step your game up!” I remember traveling to New York this winter and having to constantly use my phone to look up metro connections. And thanks to this power bank, my phone battery was able to last an entire day. If you’re going to be using Google Maps a lot on your trip, make sure to bring a power bank just in case your phone dies half-way through the day. We definitely don’t want to be lost in a foreign country where we don’t speak the language.
17. Spare Clothing
Having spare clothing available is so important. You never know what can happen on the flight. Maybe a strong turbulence hits and your coffee spills all over you. Or maybe you get your period out of nowhere, and now you have to walk around with a big red stain on your pants. So to prevent these things from ruining your flight. Just bring a simple black t-shirt, a pair of undies, and a pair of black leggings or shorts. You can never go wrong with these basics. and if you roll them up, they barely take up any space in your backpack.
After traveling for hours non-stop and barely getting any sleep on the plane, our immune system becomes compromised. And the last thing we want is to get sick after arriving at our travel destination. So make sure to drink plenty of water and get plenty of sleep before your long flight. Also, consider taking Emergen-C to boost your immune system.
19. Plastic Bag
This plastic bag is purely for emergency purposes. Aka, air sickness or any urge to throw up. (I know they provide plastic bags on flights, but it’s always better to have extra on hand). I suffered from a bad case of food poisoning while on a flight back to LA from China once. And it was literally the worst flight ever because I was running to the toilet to throw up every few hours. Thank goodness the bathrooms were available when I needed them. But what if they weren’t? It would’ve been bad.
Wondering what to pack in a carry-on? SNACKS!
I mean, who doesn’t love snacks. Especially when you’re stuck sitting in one position for more than 10 hours. Airplane food is also notoriously expensive. A bottle of water and a bland/dry/underwhelming sandwich can cost you up to 15 dollars! I honestly sometimes wonder if I’m being robbed in plain sight. So, as a fellow foodie, I always have my carry-on stuffed with snacks. It’s STACKED TO THE BRIM, literally.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! I feel like I say this all the time. But drinking plenty of water is important to prevent headaches and dehydration later on. After going through security, you can fill up your refillable water bottles at the water station. Or when you get on the plane, ask the flight attendants to fill it up for you. I confess, I use to buy plastic water bottles all the time, but I realized it was a waste of money because sometimes I would forget to drink it. And then when I get to my layover, I have to pour all the water out again before going through security. So, refillable water bottles it is!
22. Small Pouch
What to pack in a carry on you ask? A small pouch! It’ll make your life so much easier especially if you have a window seat. Before getting on the flight, make sure to put everything you’ll need during the flight into this pouch so that you won’t have to get up every two seconds to reach the overhead bin.
Sunscreen is a must-have for keeping your precious face protected at all times. When first taking off, the window shades are lifted all the way up so that the flight attendants can be aware of any emergency situations. But this also means that UV rays are using this opportunity to attack your skin. So make sure to apply sunscreen before boarding. Just like moisturizing your skin, protecting it is equally as important.
As we all know, for carry-ons, travelers are only allowed to bring liquids in containers less than 100ml, and all these containers must fit in a quart-size bag. This travel bottle set became a must-have for me when I started backpacking solo. Since I didn’t want to spend money on travel-size skincare and body lotions. I decided to invest a bit of money in this bottle set to save me money in the long run. Also, it contains a little brush so that you can clean out any residue from previous products.
25. A Copy Of Your Passport
Deciding what to pack in a carry on can be stressful. But what’s 10000 times more stressful than that? Losing your passport at the airport and not having a copy with you. I personally was lucky enough to recover my passport the three times I lost it at the airport (I was really young and naive ok?) But we’re not going to be that lucky all the time. So make sure to take a picture of your passport and save it on your iCloud or Google Photos. And even print it out if you want to have a physical copy on hand.
There You Have It, What To Pack In A Carry On!
I hope after reading this list, you’ll have a better idea of what to pack in a carry on next time you travel! And if you have any other suggestions that you’d like me to add to the list, don’t hesitate to comment below. Also, This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures.
And for more travel inspiration & tips, make sure to check out:
- What To Pack In A Carry On? 25 Essentials For Surviving Long Flights
- What Solo Travel Has Taught Me That Changed My Perspective On Life
- What Can Travel Around The World While Staying In A Corner? Explained
- Top 15 Female Solo Travelers You Need To Follow On Instagram In 2020
- Top 15 Affordable Hostel Essentials That You’ll Need