Are you planning a long-haul flight and want to make your journey as comfortable as possible? Packing these items will help you feel spruce and raring to go when you reach your destination
Khalifa Tower view © ZAAAZO
Any flight is an unpredictable experience. The cabin may be too hot or too chilly or the pressure may feel too high and give you a headache. Your plane may be delayed on the tarmac when taking off or stuck in a holding pattern when trying to land. While some airlines have plenty of in-flight entertainment and snacks, others offer very little. It’s easy to improve your travel experience by being prepared with a few simple accessories. Use this list to make flying comfortable and to arrive in the best possible shape.
Luggage For A Comfortable Long-Haul Flight
Comfortable travel starts with knowing what to expect at the airport and having all tickets, passports, and other documents to hand. It’s hard to predict how big queues will be, so leave plenty of time if you need to check in and drop off your hold luggage. Make sure your cabin bag is the right weight and size, otherwise there’ll be a problem when you board the plane.
Navigating airport security is much easier if you adhere to limits around liquids and electronic devices, and separate these from your cabin bag in advance. If you put any keys, watches, jewellery, belts, and other loose items into your jacket pocket, you can take this off as you reach the scanners and put it in the tray to be x-rayed. On a good day, you can be cleared and through in less than 10 minutes.
- Face mask – COVID is still very active in many countries and you may be required to wear an SFP2 facemask on the plane and in some indoor spaces. It’s also a good idea to carry a small bottle of hand sanitiser when you travel.
- Passport Cover – A decent cover will protect your passport from damage and is a practical way to safely group boarding cards and other transit documents.
- Travel Wallet – Alternatively, a sturdy travel wallet will also keep your cash, cards, and documents tucked away. The Lewis N. Clark RFID Security Wallet is the right size for passports and other necessities, but is still comfortable under clothing.
- Cabin Bag – There’s an enormous range of cabin bags, built to airline specifications, so this will largely be a matter of personal choice. Airports tend to have lots of stairs, so I usually go for something with carrying handles or shoulder straps. However, these can get tangled up in the overhead compartments and you may prefer a bag with wheels. Whilst a boxy case with a hard shell fits snugly in the cabin space and seems to offer more protection, a softer bag will almost always have tons of handy pockets and compartments and can useful as a makeshift pillow.
- Clear Cosmetic Bags – All carry-on liquids need to be declared at the airport, so a clear cosmetic bag is mandatory. The advantage here is that you can pack small travel bottles snugly together, which is convenient both for airport security but also for easy access on the plane. Make sure you go for something both durable and waterproof, so that leaks aren’t going to spoil the rest of your luggage.
- Travel Organiser – Similarly, you can group small electronic items like powerbanks, MP3 players, and handheld games consoles in a separate travel organiser, like the AmazonBasics Universal Travel Case. This will help protect them and make them easier to find and declare at the airport.
- Travel Cube – If you’re only bringing cabin luggage with you, it’s a good idea to separate out anything you’ll need on the flight into a separate travel cube. That way you can easily find what you’re looking for and won’t have to keep rummaging through your case.
Comfort Accessories For A Long-Haul Flight
Long flights can do strange things to the human body, so it’s important to mitigate the effects of flying. Sitting upright in cramped and pressurised conditions, and eating meals, puts a strain on different areas. The stomach can feel bloated, legs and feet swollen, whilst the neck and shoulders can be tense. The following items will help you get target each of these and get as comfortable as possible.
- General Comfort – If you’re wearing tight clothes on a flight, you’ll soon know about it, especially after a meal. Instead of trying to look fabulous when you step off the plane, you’ll feel better if you go for a loose and leisurely outfit. Lounge pants will stop trousers and belts digging into your stomach. Travel slippers or slipper socks are much kinder to your feet than tightly laced-up shoes. You can change into these once you’re on the plane. Women should definitely invest in a comfortable, well-fitted bra.
- Snacks And Drinks – The availability of food and drink on a plane can be unpredictable, so it’s wise to carry a bottle of water and some emergency snacks, like energy bars. Buy these airside. It may cost a bit more but it will save any hassle with security. Staying hydrated is key, so drink plenty of water during the flight and cut back on the coffee and alcohol. Also beware that many countries forbid you to bring food and drink into the country, so you may need to ditch these on the plane once you’ve landed.
- Travel Pillows – A good travel pillow makes any long-distance journey more comfortable and can seriously make the difference if you’re trying to get some sleep. A high-end pillow will use memory foam to give your neck and shoulders more support. If possible, road test a few before you buy to see what works best with your upper body.
- Eye Shades – For those of us in the cheap seats, the secret of a good sleep is to cut out all sensory input. An effective eye cover will fit snugly without being too tight and it needs to block out all light. Try it out at home before you travel to get used to wearing it.
- Earplugs – Blocking out sound is the other piece of the puzzle. Some comfortable earplugs can help you doze off in transit, no matter how noisy the engines or surrounding chatter. Cirrus Healthcare EarPlanes are designed specifically for air travel.
- Noise Cancelling Headphones – If you’d rather listen to music in the air, then a good pair of noise cancelling headphones are recommended for travelling. These will cut down on ambient noise without needing to boost the volume to dangerous levels. Sony’s MDRZX110NC Noise Cancelling Headphones are reasonably priced but conveniently foldable for storage. You might want to consider some wireless noise-cancelling headphones. Though more expensive, they are less vulnerable to travel damage than wired cans.
- Blanket Or Wrap – Airplane cabins can get very chilly, particularly on overnight flights, so a warm blanket or travel wrap can be very cosy indeed. Some of these, like the 4-in-1 Travel Blanket, can be very elaborate and others can fold down to handheld size. You’ll want something soft and light that doesn’t take up too much room in your luggage, but with thermal properties like fleece.
- Compression Socks – The lack of physical activity on a long flight, combined with cabin pressure, can result in swollen feet and ankles, and even an increased risk of thrombosis. Compression socks can help regulate your blood flow, reducing risk and increasing comfort. KKUP2U Compression Socks are designed of long-haul travel.
- Basic Change Of Clothes – All it takes is the seat in front of you to move back suddenly for a drink to end up all down your front. So carry a spare t-shirt with a backup pair of socks and underwear. You’ll also feel so much better if you nip into an airport loo when you land to clean up and change.
- Medicines And Personal Care – Cabin conditions can have an adverse affect on how you feel. Prepare for this with a small pack of medication. Keep these in their original packaging and observe restrictions on quantities of liquid permitted.
- Antihistamines – Popping an antihistamine at the start of a journey can counteract the sneezes brought on by recirculated air on planes.
- Pain Relief – Headaches caused by cabin conditions and travel tiredness can make a long flight miserable. Make sure you have a small supply of over-the-counter pain killers such as paracetamol. Ibuprofen Lysine is particularly good for relaxing muscle ache and tension.
- Sleep Aids – Many people have trouble sleeping in transit, even with the aid of masks and ear plugs. Ask your local chemist to recommend an over-the-counter sleep aid, like melatonin.
- Prescribed Medication – If you use a prescribed sleep medication or any other kind of medicine, make sure you bring them in their original packaging with a copy of your prescription, especially if you’re travelling internationally.
- Moisturiser – Long flights will leave you feeling dry, so keeping your skin fully hydrated will help counteract that sense of tiredness. You could even treat yourself and pick up a fancy brand like CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion and Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream in an airport shop before you fly.
- Lip Balm – Don’t forget to keep your lips moist with a small stick or tin of lip balm. Burt’s Bees is a good choice.
- Breath Freshener – Pack some mints or chewing gum to help keep your mouth fresh.
- Tissues And Sanitising Hand Wipes – A pack of tissues is useful for dozens of little emergencies, whereas some sanitising hand wipes are great for a little energy boost and can even cool you down.
- On Arrival – One of the best things to do once you’ve landed and are safely in the airport is to find a toilet to freshen up. You can have a quick all-over wash with some body wipes and put on some deodorant. Then change your a t-shirt, socks and underwear. Clean your teeth with a travel brush and paste or a waterless toothbrush and sort your hair out with a travel brush. You’ll feel rejuvenated and ready to face the day.
Entertainment Accessories For A Comfortable Long-Haul Flight
Not everyone can sleep through a flight. In fact, any long-distance travel is a great opportunity to binge on a TV series, finish a game, or listen to an audiobook as you relax and watch the world pass by below. Make sure you’ve plenty of entertainment on hand to pass the time.
- Kindle Reader – Lightweight and easy on the eye, the Amazon Kindle is perfect for travel. You can load it up with a huge library of books, periodicals, and graphic novels, without worrying about the battery.
- iPad or Tablet – Though heavier and less durable, a tablet can offer practically unlimited entertainment. Depending on your device, you can download audiobooks, films, TV shows, games, music, and more from Amazon, iTunes, or Google Play. You could even take advantage of a free trail with Audible or Prime Video just for the flight. Just be sure to download everything you want before you travel.
- Games Console – A handheld console could be all you need to while away a 10-hour flight. The Nintendo Switch offers HD gaming and a good range of different titles to choose from.
- Powerbank – It’s unwise to assume you’ll always be close to a power supply and there’s no guarantee that the aircraft will have a USB slot for recharging devices. But you’ll always have enough battery juice if you carry a fully-charged powerbank in your day bag or cabin luggage.