Travel Essentials for a Long Flight
As I start to gather items to pack and plan out my outfits, I’m also strategically planning what to pack for the flight itself. Sitting in one seat (coach, of course) for 10+ hours is hard. Even sitting at a desk with wifi I feel the need to get up and walk around every so often. I want to be as comfortable as possible and also make sure I’m not too jet-lagged by the time I land so as not to waste any day time sleeping.
To make it easier and stay organized, I’m breaking up my carry-on into categories – Entertainment, sleep time, “morning”, wellness, and other. Some of these are items I bring every flight and others are one’s I have never brought but will be making a staple in my carry-on. Hope these are helpful for your next flight!
– ipad mini/tablet
Any tablet will do. I prefer my mini because it takes up less space in my bag and on the tiny tray table. I keep it in a case that also doubles as a stand to keep it protected while traveling and upright when I want to watch it. You can get an Apple certified refurbished one for pretty cheap (as far as ipads go) on amazon.
This may be inconvenient, but I always bring my laptop. I can edit photos in photoshop or I can write blog posts offline (on an offline google docs page). You can also download movies and tv shows you can’t download on your ipad to watch offline.
I like to sketch when I have nothing else to do. It is also helpful for when/if all your devices die and you need back-up entertainment. I prefer to make lists by hand and sometimes plan out things I want to do on my trip while on the plane.
– A paperback book
Looking at screens before bed actually interferes with your sleep and will make it harder than it already is to fall asleep on a plane. Bring a paperback book to read before you go to sleep or just for entertainment when you’re trying to stay awake. Keep your carry-on light and bring a realistic number of books you’ll read.
A book that keeps you engaged and interested is ideal – dry books can just make the flight seem longer. I recommend The Handmaid’s Tale if you haven’t read it yet!
A pen to accompany your sketchbook/notebook and handy for those landing cards you fill out at the end of the flight.
Of course these are a must for listening to music or podcasts.
This is a life-saver for avoiding jet-lag as much as possible. Some people say it doesn’t do a thing for them, but I swear by it and use it whenever I get in a bad habit of staying up late and can’t fall asleep earlier or need to change my schedule for traveling time-changes. They make different doses, but I prefer 0.5mg or 3mg. Take one (or half) about 30 minutes before you want to fall asleep and make sure you’ll have 6-8 hours that you’ll be able to sleep.
Something I just discovered this year is wax earplugs. I always hated the foam ones because they hurt my ears after a couple hours. Wax earplugs form to your ears, block out most of the noise, and are so comfortable to wear. I sleep with them every night now! This is a MUST for long flights – especially if you’re a light sleeper.
If you’re flying during the day but need to sleep, a sleep mask can trick your brain into thinking it’s night and time to go to bed (along with the melatonin). I’ll be flying in the evening so I won’t need to worry about this too much.
We all know how terribly uncomfortable airplane pillows are (not to mention how unsanitary they may be…). Bring your own inflatable neck pillow or travel pillow so you can inflate it once you’re ready to use it and deflate it when you’re done.
– thin blanket or shawl
Planes get cold and they don’t always provide you with a blanket (and again, how clean are they really). Bring a scarf, shawl, or lightweight blanket you can use for warmth or just comfort.
Once I wake up and am ready to be awake for the remainder of the flight and day once I land, I feel gross. Pack all your morning items in a small bag that you can take to the bathroom to freshen up. Washing your face once you wake up will help snap you out of the groggy state you’re most likely in and give you a fresher feeling. It’s also nice to have to wash your face before going to sleep!
After washing your face, using a face spray and a serum will add a little pep into your step and give your face the moisture it desperately needs after sitting for hours in the dry airplane. You can make your own face spray or buy this one and pour some into a travel-sized spray bottle.
Again, you’re not going to feel your freshest after eating, sleeping, and then waking up and STILL being on an airplane. Pack a travel-sized toothbrush and toothpaste to take with you into the bathroom and brush your teeth after your meal (before you go to sleep) and once you wake up.
– Moisturizing lip balm
Humans do best in humidity around 40%. Airplanes keep their humidity around 20% which is much lower than our bodies like to be in. In addition to drinking lots of water and moisturizing your skin, don’t neglect your lips! Bring a nice chapstick, lip gloss, or something that will re-hydrate your lips.
These help with nausea so much and are a good replacement for ginger ale which contains a lot of sugar that can make you feel even more nauseous. Ginger chews are a life-saver and can really turn a day around when traveling.
Advil, cold medicine, something for an upset stomach, Excederin, or whatever else you can think of that you may want handy for pre-flight, during a flight, or post-flight. You can use a pill container to hold a few of each pill so you don’t have to carry all the bottles. Just make sure that you DO bring the bottle if it is a prescribed medication.
Staying hydrated on flights is important because they air is so dry. Dehydration is one of the things that causes nausea for me on flights. Bring an empty water bottle and have it filled once you’re on the plane. Sure, you may have to get up more often to go to the bathroom, but you’ll feel better and getting up and walking around every hour or so is good for your circulation. I love aluminum water bottles that keep my water cold, like this one, because I don’t like room temperature water as much.
I always feel kind of “bleh” while traveling – especially during long flights. Pack food that is healthy, not processed, and won’t make your stomach upset if you’re feeling “bleh”. Fresh fruit, nuts, salad, avocado, and dark chocolate are all good choices.
For an after-meal refreshment (your seat-mate will thank you) and to pop your ears from the elevation increase.
– an extra change of clothes
Because I am a worrier, I’m always prepared for my luggage to be lost. I pack an extra outfit in my carry on just in case – including a few extra pairs of underwear and socks.
– contact lenses
I pack most of my contact lenses on my carry on – again in case my luggage is lost. Packing a contact lens case and solution is also a great idea in case you need to re-wear your disposable contacts (if you have them!).