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What to pack in your hand luggage for a long-haul flight


Believe it or not, most of the time I actually find long haul flights quite enjoyable. I know that sounds crazy but let me explain. For me, there’s just something about being disconnected from the world, having the ability to switch off and relax all whilst floating above the clouds. But let’s be real, there are times where flying long haul is more like a brutal test of endurance rather than a kick back and relax moment.

That’s where packing your hand luggage appropriately is crucial, and for those times, these are the essentials that I (and you should too) pack for every single flight.

1. Reusable water bottle

For any long-haul flight hydration is key. Taking a reusable water bottle on board not only ensures you’ll stay hydrated (which is also a key step in the battle against the jet lag), but you’ll also be helping the planet while you’re at it. Instead of constantly asking for individual cups of water, you’ll reduce your single user plastic consumption while also preventing the potential craziness that comes with enduring a long-haul flight.

2. Pack snacks

Real talk here—getting an inflight meal that is actually edible on a plane is a rare occurrence. Hence snacks are key in packing your hand luggage correctly. My go-to snacks are fresh fruit or healthy, low-sugar cereal bars and don’t forget to pack chocolate because well, it’s obvious why.

flight pack snacks

Image source:Charles Etoroma

3. You need a pen

This is the unlikely essential item you didn’t know you needed. With long haul destinations, it is highly likely that you’ll have to fill out a landing or immigration form before you’ll be allowed to enter your destination country. Do yourself a favour and pack one.

4. A spare change of clothes

Having a spare change of clothes in your carry on is a non-negotiable for long haul flights. I recently just returned from New Zealand where it took me 39 hours to get back to England and I don’t think I would have stayed as calm as I did without a spare change of clothes. It is the perfect way to freshen up and feel like your normal self again, plus, no one wants to be sat in the same clothes for 39 hours. No one.

5. Toiletries

Again, the best way to stay sane on a flight is to stay as fresh as possible. Packing some deodorant, a toothbrush, toothpaste, lip balm and moisturiser is an excellent way to keep you feeling nice and clean and back to your normal self (as much as is possible in economy class).

carry on toiletries

Image source:Renata Fraga

6. Hand sanitizer

Long haul flights can wreak havoc on your body—the tiredness and drying conditions in combination with the fact planes aren’t the most sanitary places isn’t ideal. Hence, a bottle of hand sanitiser is your ally in the battle against germs. Just make sure it is under 100ml otherwise you’ll have to bid farewell to your little friend at the security check.

7. Something to keep you warm

Planes can get a wee bit chilly (and you know its cold if a Brit is saying its cold!). So, bring a hoodie or jacket to keep you comfy. Plus, being comfortable will make it a lot easier to get some sleep.

8. Eye mask

Now, this item is a lifesaver. Sleeping whilst in an upright position can prove to be a challenge, therefore having an eye mask is a handy tool that can make this challenge slightly easier. And on that note, pack earplugs too!

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9. Entertainment

Sometimes the inflight service is phenomenal, other times… not so much. Therefore, my tip would be to load up all your devices with plenty of films, TV series’, games and the like to keep you entertained. And don’t forget to pack a portable charger as well because no one wants their device to lose power during the climax of an epic battle scene.

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