Depending on if you love or hate flying, a long haul flight can be a dream come true or your worst nightmare but regardless of how you feel about air travel, it’s important to have a number of things at hand to make your long haul journey as smooth as possible. Even as a seasoned traveller and one that isn’t the biggest fan of flying, I have on more than one occasion forgotten to take something on board that I have needed to make my flight more bearable. Therefore over the years and after kicking myself because of my forgetfulness a number of times, I have now created a list of 10 practical things you need to take on a long haul flight, most of which are applicable on short-haul flights too.
1. The right carry on
A carry on is of course needed, even the lightest of packers still need something to put their essentials in. Everyone has their own individual taste when it comes to the style of carry on they choose to use. I personally have to have one with a lot of external pockets. I love being able to grab things from my bag easily without having to fully open and half unpack it. At least one front pocket is a must for me in order to get my passport and travel documentation out as I pass through security and passport control. Carry ons needs to be practical, however, that doesn’t mean it can’t be fashionable as well, Tumi offers a number of bags that appeal to the inner fashionista in all of us.
2. Water/empty water bottle
Free drinks are usually offered on long haul flights, including alcoholic ones. So including water on the list may seem like an odd one. However, I’ve lost count of the number of times I have passed up a drink as the flight attendant has passed through the cabin offering them, to then want one 10 minutes later. Some people think that the attendants are there to fulfill their every wish and are extremely trigger happy with their call bell. I find picking up a bottle of water at the airport and taking it on board with me means I can have a drink when I want one. A lot of planes also have water fountains where you can fill up your bottle, therefore why not pack an empty bottle and fill it when you need it, it’ll also give you the opportunity to have a little wander down the aisle of the plane and get the blood in your legs flowing.
3. Glasses/spare contact lenses/ sunglasses
If you wear contact lenses you will know how dry your eyes become very quickly when flying. Therefore, don’t forget to slip your glasses on before take off or at least in your carry on, so you can quickly pop them on when the feeling of dry eyes becomes too much – the discomfort is real. I then always keep a spare pair of contact lenses in my bag so I can pop them back in after landing. I also always carry my sunglasses with me if I know I am flying somewhere where the sun will be shining. I can then quickly pop them on as I leave the airport and not have to squint all the way to the hotel.
4. Prescribed/over the counter medication
Always ensure you pack your prescribed medication in your carry on as there is always the possibility of your hold luggage going missing and getting replacement medication at your destination may prove tricky, so why run the risk? I also keep a few over the counter medications in my carry on too because I never know what I may need on the flight. The obvious ones for me are definitely a painkiller in case I get a headache mid-air, imagine flying long haul feeling like your head is splitting open – ouch. I normally carry some throat lozenges and some cold sore cream too, especially on return flights from hot countries as the air conditioning on the plane has a habit of making them appear rapidly.
5. Food/ snacks
I have only ever come across a handful of people who actually enjoy airplane food. At best it’s palatable at worst I probably wouldn’t feed it to my worst enemy. On a flight to Australia once I ticked the Hindu vegetarian option by mistake, 6 curries in 24 hours was even too much for me and I love curry. There was also the time when I flew to Hong Kong and by the time they got to the back row where I was sat, they had run out of food, 12 hours with nothing to eat was pretty hard going. Therefore, I now always travel with snacks, granted they are not usually the healthiest but I’d rather have a bag of Haribo and let the sugar see me through the flight then be hangry and take it out on Mr ESLT and believe me I do get really angry when I’m hungry!
As a nervous flyer, one of the few things apart from the aforementioned Haribo sweets that calm me down is watching a movie or two. It helps relax me and it sure makes the time go quickly, especially as I cannot sleep on planes. However, on more than one occasion now I have flown and the in-flight entertainment has been down. The first time for 7 hours and the second and most recently, 13 hours – I have never been so bored in my life. Therefore, now I always ensure I travel with at least a set of earphones to listen to music on my phone and a trashy magazine to read to pass the time.
I always travel in a hoodie. Ok, it is not the most fashion forward item of clothing in my wardrobe but it is warm and it is comfortable and who doesn’t want to be warm and comfortable when sat on an airplane for hours on end? When I fly long haul I am usually either flying to or from somewhere cold, therefore I have my hoodie with me anyway and when it’s not needed I simply roll it into a ball and pop it in my carry on. Plus I am a bit of a germaphobe and would prefer to wear my own hoodie then use one of the blankets airlines offer.
8. Mini toiletries
If you fly in cattle class, sorry I mean economy, like we always do then you have never had the pleasure of finding a handy little bag on your seat with a few essential toiletries inside it. Ah, the dream. Therefore, I always pack a few little things in my carry on in a bid to look as fresh stepping off the plane as I did stepping on it. My bag always includes a mini deodorant, an atomiser of perfume, a mini moisturiser, a lip balm and the all important toothbrush and toothbrush. Freshening up just before we come into land always makes me feel better and prepares me to hit the ground running once at my destination and I’m positive Mr ESLT and people around me appreciate it too.
9. Credit card
More and more budget airlines are expanding into the long haul flight market and they are great for allowing you to fly further for less. At the beginning of the year, we flew to New York with one of them. It certainly was a no frills way to fly. We had to pay extra in advance for everything if we wanted it – hold bags, seat reservations, a meal package etc. We decided not to pay for the drinks package, however once on board the need to have a vodka and coke to settle my nerves kicked in. It was a good job I had my credit card with me as cash was not accepted at 35,000 feet. I simply ordered my drink on the touch screen in front of me, swiped my card and voilà the flight attendant appeared with my drink in hand, a great but pricey service.
10. USB battery pack
I always carry a mobile phone charging case and a backup USB battery pack because yes, I’ll admit it, I’m a social media addict. However, the reason I carry them when I travel is for a different reason. I had lost count of the number of times I had used my phone during a flight to listen to music or write a blog post and when I had flicked the data back on at the other end, the battery instantly drained leaving me unable to get a Über or call the meet and greet service to have my car brought to the airport terminal. I have also been on planes that have USB power sockets on them (awesome), however, they have not worked (boo) and the last time that happened it took the biscuit so now I always have at least one back up USB battery pack in my carry on that I do not touch until the plane is on the ground at my destination.
I hope you have found my list helpful and I have listed a few things you may never have considered. Also, please leave me a comment below if you always pack something practical you think I have left off my list and may help me on future long haul flights.
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