Carry-on essentials and packing list for long domestic and international flights. This post may contain affiliate links.
While I’m SO excited for my trip to Europe this fall, I am dreading the extra long flight. I think the longest portion of my flight to Mexico a few years ago was only 4 hours and anything longer than a few hours leaves me pretty antsy. However, the end result is SO worth it so I am doing my best to prep for this long flight. Below are some of my carry-on essentials for short and long flights. Let me know what else you’d add by leaving a comment below!
All essential documents–and a pen!
Of course you’ll want to keep your important travel documents handy along with your credit cards, cash, flight itineraries, etc. Additionally, be sure to have a pen or two so you’re ready to fill out any paperwork onboard for international flights. It’s surprising how many people don’t have one on them. I always have one in my everyday bag, and make sure to add it to my travel bag.
Skincare, toiletries and medication
The pressure inside the cabin is so drying for skin. For any flight longer than a few hours, I always like to come prepared with extra skincare products. I have so many deluxe samples from Sephora I can usually just grab from those. I recommend having makeup remove wipes or face wash for a deeper clean, plus lotion, a moisturizing face mask and lip balm. If I’m taking an overnight flight, I’ll wash my face even before boarding so I can start mentally preparing for sleep.
A few additional items to remember or consider packing: toothbrush/toothpaste (definitely!), mouthwash, deodorant, tissues, hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes, OTC medications like Tylenol, allergy medicine, Pepto-Bismol and any prescription medications.
Water and snacks
I always like to bring my own water onto flights. When you’re on a longer flight, it’s crucial to stay hydrated. And I don’t want to ask for a bunch of tiny water bottles on the flight so I bring my own with me. I try to bring an entire 1-liter bottle with me. I’ll either buy one at the airport or bring a refillable bottle along. When it comes to food, you can actually pack your own as long as it’s a solid. If you’re a picky eater and don’t want to rely on the flight food, just pack your own. Be hyper-aware of how your food smells. You don’t want to be that person stinking up the plane with stale fast food. And don’t forget snacks. I always pack extra pretzels because they keep my stomach settled and don’t have an overwhelming scent nor are they messy.
Accessories for Comfort
For a longer flight, you may likely need to get some sleep. I find that I need to get very comfy in order to actually fall asleep. I’m not one of those people who can easily doze off with lights and sounds all around me.
I would recommend packing ear plugs to block sound, a pair of compression socks to keep your feet and legs from getting inflated and a travel pillow. I know travel pillows can be bulky so try to store it on the outside of your bag. They also make inflatable travel pillows that might be worth looking into. I personally would be afraid to take the chance that it would deflate on my flight leaving me miserable. I’m really excited about my recent travel pillow purchase. The pillow is extended on both sides so you can wrap it in front of you to catch your head if it falls forward while sleeping.
I also suggest adding a pair of slipper socks that you can wear over your socks. The slipper socks will provide some extra warmth and protect your other socks from the germs on the cabin floor. I know there are some heated debates on whether it’s OK to take your shoes off during a flight, so do what works best for you!
If you’re an especially light sleeper, an eye mask would make another great addition as well as an oversized scarf.
One can only spend so much time starting at their phone, so be sure to pack some items for entertainment. Make sure your phone, Kindle, computer, etc. are all fully charged before the flight. I always like to download a few movies or tv shows to my kindle along with 1-2 new books. And I bring a headphone splitter so my boyfriend and I can watch together while each wearing our own headphones.
This hasn’t been made official yet, but the ban on all electronics larger than your cellphone might be expanding to all flights coming from anywhere in Europe to the US. If this goes into effect, you won’t be able to have your kindle, computer, camera, iPad, etc. in your carry on during flights back to the US. If this becomes the case, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got some entertainment options ready on your phone. And you’ll want to bring some print options like magazines or books. I’d also recommend bringing a notebook to write out any last minute plans, travel bucket lists, to-do lists, and after your trip, you can write about your favorite experiences. If you have the room, bring a deck of cards and coloring book/pencils. I know I need other options than just staring at a screen.
Looking for a carry-on bag? I love this one from E-bags. I’m only 5’4″ so I wanted a smaller travel backpack and love that this one opens fully like a suitcase. I highly recommend it!
What do you pack in your carry-on for long flights? Let me know below!