Prepping for a long haul flight ahead?
Here’s a list of carry-on items you’ll want to pack to stay healthy and comfortable throughout your flight.
First up, what is a long haul flight?
There are a lot of different answers, depending on the traveler, airline and company you may be flying for. For the sake of argument, let’s use the definition as, a long haul flight being any flight longer than four hours and you're crossing time zones.
Back to that list, here are 16 tips and what to pack
#1: CHECK CARRY-ON ALLOWANCES
You’ll want to bring a carry-on bag that you can fit all of your items in, in addition to one that will actually fit in the overhead carrier space.
There's nothing worse when you're about to board the plane and the agent says, “Can you please put your bag here and make sure that the size will fit our aircraft?” Ah!
If it doesn't fit, all these items that you're packing on this list will need to checked, voiding the purpose of taking these items. You don't want that to happen, so check in advance that the size and dimensions of the bag is will fit accordingly.
To note, other airline carry-on allowances are based on weight. European and South Pacific airlines, particularly, are picky on this one. So, do your homework, travelers, and check the size and weight allowances for all of your upcoming flights, connection flights included.
#2: EXTERNAL CHARGER
You can't be at the mercy that the airline is going to have an outlet or USB for your devices. And, even if the airline has an outlet, there are no guarantees that they will actually work.
I have this big, beefy external battery that I plug my USB cables in to charge my phone, tablet and headphones, if needed. Also, be sure to fully charge all devices prior to take-off, regardless.
#3: LEAK-PROOF REFILLABLE WATER BOTTLE
Stay hydrated during your flight by filling up your bottle after TSA. Most major airports these days will have refillable water stations, reducing the use of single-use plastics.
When choosing a water bottle, check that it’s leak-proof as well. I’ve done this before, putting the bag overhead in the carry-on bin and the bottle dripped on to the guy in seat 7D below where the carry-on was stowed. Oops, sorry!
Another tip, bring a bottle that has a screw top, avoiding ones that have the straws in the center. Cabin pressure changes during your flight and the pressure in the bottle gets compressed as well. When you open the top of a bottle with a straw, it will squirt out from the top, hydrating you, your neighbor and the woman behind you. Double oops!
#4: QUART-SIZE PLASTIC BAGS
I’m typically anti-plastic. However, quart-sized plastic bags have so many uses that can save the travel day.
Particularly when you’re traveling through Europe and overseas, having bags can spare you a lot of time prior to going through security, where you need to have your liquids neatly placed in bags to be checked.
For example, passing through Heathrow, London Airport, they don’t always have plastic bags available for you. Also, you’re not opening your bag in front of a long line of people, shuffling along as you try to pull out just your liquids. In addition to TSA, these are great for a wet swim suit, trash on a plane, anything liquid you might buy and want to safely store before returning home, or to take along snacks in your arrival destination.
Lastly, these bags take up no space at all, and easily store in your top carry-on zipper compartment.
#5: TRAVEL-SIZE WET WIPES
These come in handy (no pun intended) for so many uses to keep you clean. Wet wipes are great for cleaning your hands in flight, your surrounding seat elements (tray table, air vent, seatbelt, to name a few), wiping down your face, and even to de-funk your armpits before you leaving the plane. No one likes the stinky guy at the business meeting table.
#6: NECK PILLOW
This one you’ll want to buy in advance. Neck pillows you find in airports tend to be overpriced, bulky and really make you look like a travel newbie.
BullBird Gear Neck Pillow has a bio-mechanic design and is engineered to improve your posture, preventing your head from tipping side to side when you snooze. It’s compact, stylish and can easily attach to a strap on your backpack. Or, stow it in your carry-on, which takes up very little space.
#7: NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES
Eliminate irritating neighbors, crying babies, and to help you sleep soundly. Noise-cancelling headphones have saved me a few times to keep my inner zen intact.
Also, having a set of your own headphones with an auxiliary cord is key for watching inflight entertainment. You can’t typically connect via Bluetooth, so you’ll need a cable. Also, you don’t drain your battery if you’re plugged directly into the back of the headrest screen.
#8: EYE MASK & EAR PLUGS
Lights on, lights off. Windows up one moment, closed the next. Your neighbor turns on his/her laptop at 2am. Yay, travel.
You can’t control all of these elements, but what you can control is what you chose to block out.
I am so light sensitive that even if someone is opening and closing a window, I'm going to wake up from that. Hence, why I always bring an eye mask to block any of the light around me fall asleep and stay asleep. In addition, I bring a set of earplugs, to totally block out all of my senses to snooze.
It can get freezing cold on planes, especially on overnight flights, after the cabin lights dim. With cost-cutting on the rise, you don't always get blankets on airplanes. When you do, I've noticed the blankets are getting smaller and thinner.
Plan ahead, and bring your own blanket: BYOB.
A tip, wear a scarf that will double as a blanket, bring a spare set of thick socks to wear keeping your feet warm.
#10: CLOVES ESSENTIAL OIL
Give your immune system a boost with a dab or two of essential oils. Cloves are known to fight infections. I put a little dab on my finger, then on the tip of my nose, under my neck near the thyroid glands, then down my spine to absorb into my system.
This helps to boost your immune system, keeps germs out of your nose on the overly dry air on a plane, where germs carry more easily.
Even for a two hour flight: always pack snacks. Especially for a long haul flight, you never know when you're going to eat, or what.
On the plane, I recommend to you pass on the airplane food always. It’s prepackaged, stored for days and preserved with added salts for flavor for your diminished taste-buds — your sense of taste decreases from the air and cabin pressure on the plane, FYI.
Pack along dried or raw fruits, including apples or oranges or bananas. Bring nutrition bars, raw nuts (not salted), dates, and oatmeal packets. These are a few items that are always in my carry-on snack pack.
Food tip, if you’re bringing oatmeal, remember to bring your own spoon to eat it. Unless you’re in first class, the attendant most likely won’t give you a spoon until meal time.
#12: LIP & SKIN MOISTURIZER
As we’ve already mentioned, the air in planes is dryer than a desert. Have easy-to-access chapstick available in your pockets or bag for your lips, along with some lotion. Use the hand lotion for your hands, and any area that's exposed to the air on a plane (neck, ankles, arms, etc).
We don't always think to bring a pen, but you will want this for international flights filling out customs forms. Having your own pen can be a huge time-saver once you land, instead of filling it out while in line. In addition, having your own pen reduces your risk of sharing bacteria and germs with a borrowed one from a neighbor on the aircraft.
#14: COMFORTABLE, BROKEN IN SLIP ON SHOES
If you're a frequent flyer and you have TSA-PreCheck, you won’t have to take your shoes off during security. However, on a pane and for overnight flights, it is highly recommended for your circulation to slip off your shoes after take-off.
One of the first things I do when flying, after reaching elevation, I go to the bathroom and wash my hands, return to my seat, and take my shoes off. Your leg circulation takes quite a toll from flying, so giving them some space to breathe is like freedom for your legs and toes.
#15: LAYERS OF CLOTHES
Layers, layers and more layers. Temperatures change so often during travels: from your origin, in an airport, on a plane, during your flight, and so on. Having layers allows you to adjust for the temperatures changes with ease, without having to change your outfit from your bag in each varying climate.
I always wear a sweatshirt, another layer underneath, long pants and an extra pair of socks. As mentioned in number nine, bring a scarf or blanket to throw on top of you as well.
#16: HIGH-DOSES OF VITAMIN C
Pack little packets of Vitamin C that you can add to your water for an immunity boost. Drink before your flight, and another during if you double-dosing up. When or how much, we don’t need to be so specific. Any extra Vitamin C will help your immune system when traveling, as you’re exposed to a greater number of people then you'd would end your usual day today. So, you naturally have an increased risk of getting sick much by default because of your increased exposure.
While the list may seem lengthy, all 16 items don’t take up a lot of space in your bag. Further, they are well worth the effort to bring along with you to make your flight first class and a much more pleasant one.
Sara Quiriconi is bullbird's resident Travel Wellness Expert. As a leader and entrepreneur in the Travel Wellness sector, Sara Quiriconi takes wellness, travel and creativity to another level. Basing her empowering content and message on her previous struggles with mental health issues, addictions and overcoming cancer, Sara's Live Free Warrior approach is real, authentic and relatable for any Wellness Warrior.