packing tips travel tips

What to Pack for a Long Flight

January 8, 2019
airplane wing against clear sky at sunset

What should you pack for a long flight of more than six hours? It’s often hard to know what to take in your carry on to make flying more comfortable.

I never heard of anyone that enjoys a long flight. Despite my keen love of travel and the sense of adventure when I first set off, as soon as I sit down on a plane I wish for the ability to teleport to my destination.

Some of the worst things about flying is the havoc the air has on your skin and that grubby feeling when your land. Not to mention the lack of sleep from trying to nod off while almost completely upright.

As I prepared for a 13-hour nonstop flight to Vietnam and lamented not booking a flight with a layover, here’s a few things I packed in my carry-on bag to make the trip more bearable.

What I pack for long flights

*Disclosure: this post contains some affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase

A good hand cream

The air is ruthlessly dry, and your cuticles and hands will get super dry. My favourite is the affordable Soap & Glory Hand Food, which if you are flying out of the UK, is likely to be at your airport’s Boots on the other side of security. A multipurpose balm is also a good idea to soothe cuticles if they get really dry like mine!

ThisWorks Deep Sleep Pillow Spray

This super calming spray is just what you need to drift off.  I have the hardest time falling asleep on planes, but, as I often use this spray on my pillow at home, it is just what I need to get that needed rest. Spritz a tiny bit on your travel pillow or blanket and feel yourself relax. And bonus, it’s helps mask stale plane air (yuck). Find it here (UK) and here (US).

Cleansing wipes

Given it’s impossible to do your normal nighttime routine mid-flight, you need something to get off any makeup. I usually travel with my microfibre face cleansing cloth (mentioned here), but as there’s no where to let it dry I tend to pack a few makeup remover wipes for when I’m on the go. The bonus is that you can use them to freshen up when you land.  Oh, and they don’t count as a liquid, which means more space in your carry-on baggie.

Your favourite mini toiletries

Packing essentials travel sized toiletries


A recent study found that parts of a plane such as the seat tray had a considerable amount of germs, which is exactly why I’m constantly reaching for my anti-bac on planes.  My favourite is Bath and Body Works Pocketbacs; I horde them every time I go back stateside.  In the UK? Try Neal’s Yard; theirs are all natural and not sticky.

I also pack some eye drops and skin soothing gel, as well as the must-haves for when I land in case my luggage gets lost, such as contact lens solution and moisturiser. Fellow lens wearers: do not wear your lenses on a long flight! The dry air combined with dozing off in them can be really damaging for your eyes.

Also pack a mini deodorant and a sample-size of your favourite scent, you’ll definitely want to freshen up before/just after you land!

Don’t forget your toothbrush and toothpaste in your carry on, not only to stay fresh but I also find it helps you slip into a bedtime routine frame of mind.

Lip balm

Again, horrifically dry plane air means you need to keep lip balm close by. These are a few of my favs:

  • Burt’s Bee’s – A classic, natural and really nourishing.
  • Vaseline lip therapy – it’s basic, but honestly it is one of the best thing for really dry or damaged lips.
  • Dr. Organic – I have the coconut one right now, but the manuka honey one is my favourite from this all-natural brand.

Eye mask and ear plugs

I’ve always found it tough to drift off during a flight, but having a quiet, dark environment does help. Pack some foam earplugs (or grab some noise blocking headphones) to block out noisy passengers and slip on a cute eye mask to make yourself more comfortable.

A pashmina and/or fuzzy blanket

Planes get cold quick when you’re up in the air, so I usually wrap myself up in a pashmina. One odd thing I rarely travel without is a small blanket. A cute fuzzy throw can roll up quite small, is much better than those weird plane blankets, and can really come in handy during the rest of a trip, especially when staying in cheaper places or hostels. I usually also pack a pair of fuzzy socks for sleeping!

A battery pack

Watching movies and playing games drains your battery quick, so always make sure you can recharge with a quality battery pack (I always find that cheap ones just don’t hold a charge!). Also make sure you have your headphones.

A good neck pillow

Always a must for helping drift off upright! Mine is just a cheap bean bag one and it does the job but might be worth getting a nice one if you travel a lot.

Your entertainment

Make sure you have your headphones and that your iPad, IPhone, or other device is charged up and full of ebooks and a few films/box sets. Although most planes do have in flight entertainment on screens behind your seat, some don’t, and you never know if you might end up with the one broken screen (has happened to me). Bring a book or your journal to give your eyes a rest from the screens if you have room.

Healthy snacks

I really hate plane food and try to eat something healthy while in the airport, but on a long flight you are going to get hungry! Take healthy stuff that is easy to travel with like Nakd bars, dried fruit, or some Graze punnets. I usually pack myself a breakfast bar for in the morning as well.

Herbal tea

Drink something relaxing before you try sleeping such as chamomile tea or another pre-bed herbal mix. Pukka night time is one of my favourite and really helps me nod off (In the US? find it here).

Make sure to stay well-hydrated and avoid alcohol, which can actually keep you awake and is even worse for you on a flight.

Inflatable foot rest (for short people)

If you’re tall, your issue is trying to have extra leg room, and while at 5’0 tall I never have that issue, I always end up with a sore lower back on flights because my legs barely reach the floor. So I travel with an inflatable foot rest; it folds flat and lets me stretch out more comfortably! And goes completely flat when you’re finished with it! Find one here (UK) and here (US).

Other tips

  • Try to book a window seat: give you a place to rest against! And means no one will be wanting you to move every time they get up.
  • Get up and move: I know it sounds contradictory as if you are travelling solo you’ll have to be the one waking someone up to climb over, but get up at least every couple of hours and walk around, maybe up and down the aisles, for your circulation.
  • I’ve also heard tips to avoid the front of the plane, it’s often where families with babies are placed.
  • Pack the essentials on this list in a small bag or tote that fits under your seat. You won’t want to keep getting everything out of the overhead locker.
  • Stay hydrated and perhaps purchase an extra bottle of water or two after security in case the drinks service is slow/not often enough.
  • Use the time to just chill out! Yes it’s slightly uncomfortable, but using some of the time for writing, reading, or binging on films and telly will help make it feel more like a lazy Sunday and less like a prison sentence! I always use some of a flight home to catch up on all my journal entries I didn’t finish on the trip and start planning out my next blogs!

The items above sounds like a lot to pack, but luckily most of these items will be useful for the rest of your trip or fold flat. Anything I’ve forgotten? Let me know your onboard must-haves in the comments!


  • Reply
    January 8, 2019 at 5:45 pm

    I hear you about that lip balm and eye masks for sleeping! Also I had no idea that the front of the plane is where more families are likely to be placed, that’s definitely a lifehack for sure.

    • Reply
      Off a Small Island
      January 8, 2019 at 10:15 pm

      Yes, I never leave without them! Someone else pointed out to me the families with babies usually being at the front and it does seem to be true of most flights I’ve been on, especially Emirates

  • Reply
    Anaïs N.
    January 8, 2019 at 5:49 pm

    Oh such a great post! Not that I’m really often in a long haul flight but more on long bus/train journeys haha
    I’ll defo think about your post for when I’ll take the plane for a far away destination xx

    Anaïs |

    • Reply
      Off a Small Island
      January 8, 2019 at 10:13 pm

      Yes! Works for any long transport really! Thanks for reading x

  • Reply
    January 8, 2019 at 6:43 pm

    Omg this is such a great post! I don’t travel long haul very often, but a lot of these are essential to me on the flights I take (I wouldn’t be able to fly without lip balm). I’ve never thought of taking eye drops with me on a flight, which is pretty stupid as I take them everywhere else with me because my eyes get so dry.

    Thanks for such a great post!

    Soph x

    • Reply
      Off a Small Island
      January 8, 2019 at 10:17 pm

      Im the same with my eyes being really dry, I find it always helps me feel more awake when I get there too!

  • Reply
    January 8, 2019 at 6:50 pm

    Love this – I definitely need to pack healthy snacks as I end up having rubbish plane food and feeling groggy when I land. Definitely agree with you on that This Works spray, it’s so helpful for getting off to sleep! Such a well written post and a lovely blog. Melis (

  • Reply
    January 8, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    This is such a good post! I can’t live without a bottle of water on a flight! And with you on the window seats! I had the aisle seat flying to japan and it was not fun! Also love the passport/document wallet, I have the same one!

  • Reply
    January 9, 2019 at 4:08 am

    I do agree with everything that’s been listed. I wish you heard my scream upon reading about the deep sleep pillow spray. I NEED THAT IN MY LIFE!

  • Reply
    Seeking Wonderful
    January 11, 2019 at 11:16 am

    I am obsessed or addicted to lip balms, so these are always with me, no matter where I am. Having a scarf and some snacks is a total life saver on planes and even later if you take some long bus or train rides.

  • Reply
    January 11, 2019 at 1:28 pm

    Great post! I could have used this in April last year when I went to Mexico – 10 and a half hour flight 😂

    • Reply
      Off a Small Island
      January 11, 2019 at 4:21 pm

      Yes that’s a long one! My last flight was my longest yet without a layover. Hopefully this might come in handy for your next trip!

  • Reply
    January 11, 2019 at 3:14 pm

    These are great tips! I know a lot of people hate layovers for long trips but I prefer having the time to walk around the airport and get a good stretch and real food before being stuck on a plane for another long haul!

    • Reply
      Off a Small Island
      January 11, 2019 at 4:07 pm

      Thanks! I’m a fan of a little layover too to get some food and a walk! I usually try to book one in, although it was much cheaper to fly direct on my last flight!

  • Reply
    January 13, 2019 at 1:54 pm

    Great post – this has given me some ideas for what to pack for my next long flight. I’d have never thought about the pillow spray so this may be something I invest it.

    Holly x

  • Reply
    January 13, 2019 at 5:31 pm

    These are great suggestions! I love Soap & Glory Hand Food and Burt’s Bees. I really enjoy long haul flights, the perfect time to relax, watch films and listen to music. Thank you for sharing! <3 xx

    Bexa |

  • Reply
    January 13, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    I think I’m the exception because I love long flights! I find being on a plane really relaxing! But my skin hates it. I have dry skin anyway so being on a plane is usually awful for my poor face. I always pack mini moisturisers and serums and try to give myself a mini on flight facial to kill time 😂 x


    • Reply
      Off a Small Island
      January 13, 2019 at 9:38 pm

      I packed a tissue mask on the way to Vietnam and was basically having a spa treatment in my seat 😄

  • Reply
    January 13, 2019 at 9:22 pm

    These are some great ideas! I have a long flight coming up this spring and I am going to pin this to read later to jog my memory about what to take! Thanks!

    • Reply
      Off a Small Island
      January 13, 2019 at 9:25 pm

      Wonderful! Thanks for reading! Where are you off to?

      • Reply
        January 13, 2019 at 9:32 pm

        South Korea! My husband, daughter and I are going to visit my son who is teaching English there.

  • Reply
    January 13, 2019 at 10:05 pm

    Love this post! I’ll definitely need to remember these tips! Last time I forgot my headphones I wanted to cry! X

    • Reply
      Off a Small Island
      January 13, 2019 at 10:28 pm

      Oh that’s the worst! I dropped one side of mine in my tea halfway through a flight to the US once and it made it so tough! 😂

  • Reply
    January 13, 2019 at 10:20 pm

    I’ve never tried a deep sleep pillow spray but I’m going to have to!

    Jas xx |

  • Reply
    Imogen Chloe
    January 14, 2019 at 8:43 pm

    These are such good tips, I’ve never heard of the pillow spray before! Thank you! x

  • Reply
    A Girls’ Guide to Travel Must-haves for 2019 – Off a Small Island
    January 15, 2019 at 8:04 pm

    […] wrote about this one recently as a must-have for long flights, but I like to pack my Thisworks Deep Sleep Pillow Spray regardless of the trip. I love spritzing a […]

  • Reply
    What I’m buying before my next trip – Off a Small Island
    July 18, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    […] on a flight but I don’t have noise cancelling headphones, which would be a must-have for my long flights […]

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