Essentials on a Long Haul Flight

A good friend is planning her trip to Europe and is asking me what I bring in my carry on bag for a flight. I don’t travel often but when I do, it’s purely for leisure, to Africa, South America or Asia, so my in-flight packing list applies mostly to 10+ hour flights.  Some of my recent and future destinations includes Antananarivo (17), Santiago de Chile (10), Rio de Janeiro (10), Beijing (14) and Cairo (13).

1. Pen. You won’t know how important a pen is, until you have to wait in long lines to fill border crossing and declaration forms. Bring a pen in flight will save you a lot of time.

2. Sheet mask. This is why my skin always looks radiant right out of the exit, besides the fact that I’m Asian. I always put on a mask when they start to serve food, so for a 10 hour flight, I need 2-3 masks.

3. Sleeping pills. Especially for red eye flights.

4. Eye mask. Some airlines offer it for free (ie. Ethiopian Airlines), but I’d still bring my own.

5. Flip flops. Or slippers, whatever that’s comfortable to sleep in and easy to take off.

6. Thick socks when I have a window seat. I almost always choose aisle seats but sometimes unfortunately I miss my flight and get assigned to the next one on a window seat. The window seats are colder on the walls so a pair of socks will help you sleep.

7. Foldable water bottle. It’s very important to hydrate in a flight and foldable water bottles take up less space. I usually bring a thermos too, because you know, I’m Chinese and I drink hot water.

8. Noise canceling headphones. It’s not necessary if you don’t care a crying baby onboard and in your proximity in the next 10+ hours.

9. Lip balm.

10. Entertainment. I download audiobooks before flight but in reality I always fall sleep.

** I don’t need a neck pillow because I basically can sleep in any position; and also I don’t bring a jacket because international airlines (at least the ones I took) always provide blankets.