My first international trip was when I studied abroad in Florence. I knew little about long-haul flights and was excited about a double-decker plane and the opportunity to get to Europe. I have traveled a reasonable amount for work and pleasure since that first trip and have learned a few things about packing to make the journey more comfortable. A little bit of planning goes a long way. Below are some of my favorite travel essentials for long-haul flights. I hope this helps when it comes to preparing for your upcoming trip!
You can use this packing list to help you prepare.
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I have been wearing a sleep mask on long-haul flights since the beginning. It helps block out the light and calms me to go to sleep. My face is pretty well covered between a face mask and a sleeping eye mask. If you add the cashmere shawl or blanket, you have a comfortable sleeping situation.
My chargers, SD cards, and electronic cables can fit into this tech pack. It makes life so much easier. I recently brought it to Cincinnati for my road trip and realized I returned the car with this on the floor. I just reordered one. I bought my husband one as a gift; he loves and uses it. This one from Cuyana is elevated for those on the go who need a spot for their laptop and cords.
I get cold on flights year-round with the air. You can pack a light sweater for the summer. My aunt gave me a cashmere shawl that I use for travel. It can double as a blanket and is so soft and warm. I don’t love the plane blankets and prefer the cashmere shawl over what is provided. It also makes me happy knowing she is along for the adventure since it is a personal item.
This cashmere scarf is similar to the one she gifted me. I am not a big travel pillow person, but it is a good idea to bring one (if you prefer it) and earplugs to make your flight more enjoyable. Getting a good night’s sleep helps with jet lag. If you can’t upgrade to business class, this is an easy way to make your airplane seat the best for a comfortable flight. This one from White & Warren is also an excellent option for a cashmere travel wrap.
I have had the same passport holder since 2013 when I moved to Paris. A friend gave it to me as a gift, and it has worked out well, so I don’t need to change it. It is a larger leather envelope in which I keep my COVID card, euros, and my passport. I also can keep my boarding pass here along with any necessary travel documents to make them easily accessible. A passport holder also makes an excellent gift for a newlywed as you can monogram it with some retailers. This one from M.M Le Fleur and this passport holder are great options.
I keep an extra portable charger in my travel bag. I have a new iPhone with a reasonable charge, but with delays and google maps, it is always good to have extra battery life. The seats on the airplane have USB ports to arrive charged up and ready to go when you hit the ground. I also think having an extra battery for a charge is essential just in case you can’t charge when you land. As a single female traveler, I always need a fully charged phone, especially when landing in another country or riding in an Uber. This one is also a great option.
I have been asked a lot about my travel bag that sits on top of my carry-on. This is the easiest way to keep all my essential things in one place. I have my camera, lenses, laptop, SD cards, tech cords, travel items, and accessories. I mostly use the Away bag, but I love the Cuyana system tote, and Cuyana just introduced a Zipper tote which I highly recommend. All of the bags have the ease and comfort of sliding on top of my carry-on bag to make it easy to move around the airport.
The bag isn’t light with all of my equipment and laptop, but the ease of fitting it on top of my rolling suitcase helps balance everything out. If you don’t have camera equipment like me, you can add a change of clothes if you check your bag. This is a great way to avoid any mishaps with a delayed bag. You can change once you get to your hotel room.
I have been using the same carry-on suitcase for years. It makes life so much easier when you have a carry-on bag vs. checking a bag. We have all experienced some delay or loss of bags over the years. I had a delayed bag for an international flight, and it wasn’t a fun experience. Taking a carry-on makes it easier, knowing that everything you need is right with you when you land and you can exit the airport quickly. It is sometimes a challenge for longer trips to only pack in a carry-on, but I have managed pretty well.
Packing cubes are a must for the carry-on to keep everything organized when packing. I use the larger Away carry bag, which has been fine on international flights. I always get this question, and it fits in the overhead compartment.
It is great to have a mini insert bag for your larger carry-on. I have a lot going on between my travel photography business and being on the go as a full-time travel blogger. I usually have a journal for notes and ideas and a card reader for my camera and pens. I keep all the little pieces in the small bag to keep me organized and make all my essential items easily accessible to save time.
I don’t leave home without this lip balm in my bag. I have a million and they are in every bag I own. It’s the best. If you make it to France, buy them in bulk. If you can’t, it’s worth the $12. Trust me.
Masks are optional on flights, but I am keeping mine on. After running the risk of getting sick with a cold or COVID, I prefer to take the extra step and mask up. These are the ones I use and love. You can also boost your immune system with Emmergen C.
This Sisley black rose mask is a splurge but worth it. I am on my second tube and love it. Not only does it smell amazing, but it also plumps and moisturizes dry skin. Perfect for long flights. I also love the Sisley eye contour mask. A little goes a long way. I arrive at the airport without makeup and a glowy face from oils and creams.
When I land, it is all absorbed and keeps my skin feeling good on the flight. You can also use these Klorane gel eye patches, which I keep in my bag. They are packaged individually so you can slip them into your bag.
I keep this available in an inside pocket. I love this lavender one, which smells so good.
My hands always get dry when I fly and with washing often. Caudalie makes a great mini travel hand cream to pack in your carry-on.
Bioderma has a great formula with cleansing water for a quick refresh with face wipes. These are great for when you land and take your face mask off.
This is great if you check a bag and your bag is delayed. The first thing I do when I get to my hotel has an excellent long brush. You can get travel-size toothpaste. My dentist always gives me extra. Also, I don’t leave home without dental floss. I have to have it on me at all times.
I use the same lavender wipes that make my hand sanitizer. The plane should wipe down everything between flights, but there is no guarantee of how well they do it. I quickly wipe down my tray table, seat belt, and headrest. It’s the first thing I do when I get to my seat.
I have these from Apple that does the trick. I used to have large BOSE ones, but they were too bulky and hurt my ears. I wish I had splurged for the noise-canceling ones. Maybe they will be a gift for an upcoming holiday. I don’t know what I did before these and have no idea why I waited so long to buy them. I prefer to have my headphones.
Compression socks aren’t the most attractive fashion accessory, but using them might be a good idea. It helps with blood flow in your lower legs and reduces swelling and discomfort, which can come from sitting for an extended period. I recommend moving around during the flight to get blood flow and circulation. Drink lots of water and try to reduce alcoholic beverages on long-haul flights.
I try to wear the most significant and bulkiest pair of shoes on the flight, so it saves room in my luggage. This is usually a pair of sneakers and a pair of boots in the winter months. There is a lot of walking between moving from the security line, baggage claim, and your gate. It’s best to be comfortable when you reach your final destination. You can see my list of comfortable walking shoes here.
Take the time before you have limited wifi access to download podcasts, tv shows, and movies for your iPad or phone. I love to read on planes because there aren’t so many distractions. You can pick up a book at the airport or plan and pack one or two in your bag. I like to bring two if I can squeeze them in, just in case I finish one.
I like to have a small wallet with a credit card and ID with easy access in my bag. If you travel domestically, you need a driver’s license. If you are traveling internationally, you will need a valid passport. I like to have euros for tipping and my first coffee/snacks upon arrival. You don’t want to have to scramble for an ATM.
I use World Nomads travel insurance, which has been great for peace of mind. I have been using them for a long time. There are two options, but as a full-time travel blogger, I prefer the explorer option, which covers my laptop and camera equipment. It is about $140 for two weeks. It depends on your age and the type of coverage you seek. It is an extra cost, but it is important to me to have this additional coverage. Check with your local insurance provider to find the best options.
*This post includes affiliate links. I make a small commission off items purchased from my links at no cost to you. Merci!
Photos by Rebecca Tyler Photography