What To Take on a Long Flight

Emma - 24 March 2015

Plane journeys can wipe you out for the first few days of your trip, but knowing what to take on a long flight is half the battle. Keep it as bearable as possible by putting the right things into your carry-on bag.


Don’t get caught out wearing sandals on a long plane journey slowly watching your toes turn blue with cold. They don’t take much room, and make you a lot comfier. If you’re at risk of DVT, it might be worth getting some compression socks.


Planes can get horribly cold. This can be difficult if you’re going somewhere warm, but will be worth it, especially if you’re hoping to get some sleep. You can usually ask stewards for an extra blanket, but they occasionally run out, leaving you shivering for hours.


While most airlines do provide you with free disposable headphones, they’re invariably not worth the plastic they’re wrapped in. If you actually want to hear that film, I’d suggest bringing your own.

Neck Cushion

This bumps up my chances of sleeping on a plane considerably. I use an inflatable one so it can vanish in my bag until I’m ready to go home again. Amazon have a large selection.

Hairbrush, toothbrush, facewipes, spare clothes…

This covers whatever you personally need to make you feel human again on the other end of the flight. Often from the door of the aircraft to the door of your accommodation you’ll have hours of immigration, baggage control, transportation, etc, and it feels a lot better if your hair isn’t stuck to the side of your face.

Emergency Entertainment

Many of us (myself included) like to plug ourselves into a film as soon as we take off, and unplug ourselves several films later as the plane touches down. However, sometimes you’re stuck with an entertainment console that doesn’t work. Or the selection of films is terrible. Or some other tragic first world problem. In such a case, you want to have a book or well charged tablet / smartphone / kindle with you. What’s more, a charged aeroplane-mode smartphone can be handy if you’re sat at a window seat and a spectacular cloudscape / city landing comes into view.


When the landing cards come around the plane, invariably everyone pats themselves down, miserably searching their pockets for a pen. Some airlines might hand out pens, but in my experience this is a rarity (just think how many they’d get though). You often end up begging a pen off of a neighbour, or waiting until you’re at immigration and miserably joining the back of the line. Save time and frustration by bringing one with you. It’s also handy for the predictable sudoku page in the airline magazines you find in the seat pocket.

Address for your destination

This is dependent on the country you’re going to, but many landing cards require you to specify the name and address of the place you’re staying. Of course, you can always make this up I suppose, but you’re better off remembering to bring essential information with you.

Spare Plastic Bag

For some reason, this always comes in useful. Perhaps something leaks. Or you need an impromptu bin. Or you can’t cram everything into your hand luggage. It always gets used.

Eye Mask

Not for everyone, but some people swear by them.


There’s nothing sadder than being starving penned in on an eight hour flight. Especially if your plastic tray of food arrives with the appearance, texture, and flavour of something unmentionable.