Going on your first long flight and not sure how you’re going to get through it comfortably? Here’s our list of long haul flight essentials to take with you.
Did you know that almost 3 million people fly on a plane in U.S. every single day? These numbers make up short flights and oversea flights alike.
Most of us have experience with quick flights, especially if we’ve never left the country. The longest flight you can take within the continental United States is about 6 hours and 40 minutes – from Miami to Seattle.
And if you’re flying globally from say, New Zealand to literally anywhere else on the other side of the world (a flight I’ve taken more times than I want to remember) – you could be looking at around 35 hours of flight and transfer time. Ugh.
While many of us can survive a lengthy flight with nothing more than a set of headphones and a phone, that just doesn’t seem like enough for a longer trip. A longer flight requires some long-haul flight essentials, and we’ve got the list ready for you to read.
Long Haul Flight Essentials
Reusable Water Bottle
Per the Transportation Security Administration, you are allowed to bring a reusable water bottle on a plane. The only stipulation here is that you must carry it through security empty, then you may fill it at a water fountain once you’re through the checkpoint.
A long-haul flight is anything over 7 hours, and you’re bound to get thirsty at some point along the way. Filling a reusable water bottle will not only be convenient, but it will keep you from spending extra money on in-flight drinks.
Depending on your flight and your personal physical makeup, it’s almost guaranteed that you will be either very hot or very cold throughout the duration of a long flight – and you never know which it’s going to be. It can be extremely difficult to decide what to wear on a long-haul flight.
The best way to be fully prepared is to dress in layers. Start with a comfortable pair of pants such as your favorite yoga leggings, sweatpants, or stretchy joggers. On top, aim for a soft, loose-fitting tank top or t-shirt.
Bring along or wear a cozy sweater, long slouchy cardigan, or sweatshirt. If it gets too hot, you can take it off and pack it in your carry-on. Too cold? Throw it back on for an extra layer of comfort.
As far as shoes go, try to avoid open-toed footwear of any kind. Your toes will be freezing, and it’s just not a good idea to expose your feet to other people. Plus, you don’t even want to think about what’s on the floor of the bathroom.
Wear comfortable shoes that you can easily slip on and off – with socks. These shoes will make airport security a breeze, and you’ll be able to take your shoes off for a more comfortable flight.
You might also want to consider compression flight socks – especially if you have a medical condition that might cause your circulation to slow down over a long flight.
Anyone who has ever been on a plane understands the importance of a pair of headphones. On a long-haul flight, there’s a good chance you’ll listen to a lot of music and watch a lot of movies. Headphones allow you to do this without being disruptive and rude to the rest of the passengers.
Wired headphones are a thing of the past at this point, so try to bring a pair with a very long battery life. The last thing you want is to have your earbuds die mid-flight. Your plane might have charging ports, but you never know.
Noise-canceling headphones can also be quite a lifesaver. You may end up sitting next to a chatty couple, a baby that screams for 5 hours straight, someone who likes to watch a movie out loud, or a chronic snorer.
Many flights will offer you airline headphones that connect to the screens in the headrest. You can use these, but you will be limited to the in-flight movie and TV show selections.
If you’re wondering how to survive long flights in economy, headphones are an absolute must!
On your list of what to take on an international flight, make sure you include a travel pillow. Even short trips without some kind of pillow can be brutal on your neck, so imagine how uncomfortable you’ll be on a 7+ hour flight with nothing to support your head.
Travel pillows are small, convenient, and cozy. They don’t count as your personal item, either, so you can wear one around your neck on the plane and still bring a purse or a bag. Your pillow will be a lifesaver when it comes time to take a nice, in-flight nap, especially if you’re stuck in economy class!
Even if you nail the comfort portion of a long-haul flight, there’s still the very real element of boredom. What do you do to pass the time for more than 7 hours? The only thing you can do is come prepared with plenty of entertainment.
For most people, this includes electronics. Phones, tablets, and laptops are your best friend on a long flight. Be sure to load them up with plenty of games, music, television shows, and movies. Unless you plan on paying for in-flight WiFi, it’s best to download your entertainment ahead of time.
As we mentioned earlier, you might have access to basic charging ports or even electrical outlets, but there’s no way to be sure. To be safe, charge up all your devices the night before your flight.
Your electronic devices mean nothing if they run out of power. You can combat this risk by bringing a fully-charged power bank with you. Power banks can hold tons of stored energy. Some are more powerful than others, but most of them are small enough to pack.
The average power bank can fully charge an iPhone twice and then some. That should be more than enough to get you through even a long flight. If your flight had power hookups, you’re in even more luck.
Chances are, on a long-haul flight, your flight attendants will provide some kind of snacks or even a meal. As great as that is, it’s still a good idea to pack a few snacks to have on hand whenever you need them.
You might be surprised to learn that there are very few limitations concerning what kind of food you can bring on a plane. Anything from full sandwiches to cookies to salads is fine, as long as they’re packaged and fit into your carry-on.
Our favorite long haul flight essentials in the snack category are:
This one might seem a little odd, but it makes sense when you consider the length of your flight and your typical daily activities at home.
Your long-haul flight may be anywhere from 8 to 12 hours – or even more if you’re on an ultra-long-haul flight. In the span of 8 to 12 hours on a normal day, you usually brush your teeth at least once, sometimes twice or three times.
Dental care is important, but it’s also refreshing. If you plan on eating a meal, sleeping through the night, or even having a few snacks, you might feel better heading to the restroom to brush your teeth – especially if you’re flying in to greet friends or family right away.
As far as long-haul flight tips go, this one’s a winner.
There’s no better way to pass the time than to get lost in a good book. Reading materials, such as books, Kindles, and magazines, offer a nice alternative to your electronics. Watching movies can certainly pass the time, but it can get a little old after several hours.
Bring a new book on your long-haul flight to read along the way. You can block out distracting noise with headphones if needed, and every seat always has a reading light.
Kindles are excellent tools for flights because they can store hundreds of books and magazines without taking up much space at all. It’s always nice to have options.
Most flights, day and night, will keep the main cabin lights off or dimmed. But in case yours doesn’t, it helps to bring a sleep mask to block out the light. Sleep masks are also handy for when you’re seated next to someone who keeps their reading light on.
Sleeping is another simple way to pass the time, and it’s crucial on an overnight flight. Catch some solid Z’s with a light-blocking sleep mask.
Hand Sanitizer & Wipes
Airplanes get cleaned between every flight, which is good to know. But despite the crew’s best job, they’re still germy places with lots of shared surfaces. It doesn’t hurt to come prepared and play it safe.
Plan to bring antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer on your long flight. You can use the wipes to clean off surfaces such as chairs, armrests, and trays. You may even want to use them in the bathroom, for obvious reasons.
Hand sanitizer is great to use before, during, and after flights. Use them after you go to the restroom, after eating, and anytime you have to touch something on the plane. It’s up to you and your comfort level.
Final Thoughts – Long Haul Flight Essentials
Even though all you’re doing is sitting in a seat the whole time, long-haul flights can be exhausting. And if you don’t come prepared, they can feel even longer than they already are.
Use this guide of our favorite long haul flight essentials to help you survive your upcoming international flight. You’ll find that some of these items are necessities and make your long trip bearable.