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I don’t mean to brag but I possess a secret power – I can sleep on long haul flights and I do not mean a quick nap, I mean hours. My current record is 8 hours of an 11-hour flight, it is one of the greatest (and most useful) talents that I have. While sleeping is one of my favourite things to do, I do believe a lot of my ability is due to always ensuring I have my long haul flight essentials with me, my key items for surviving long haul flights and give the best chance of feeling refreshed on arrival.
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Long Haul Flight Essentials
Essential items for sleeping on long haul flights
A sleep mask is essential if you want to sleep well on a long haul flight. Of course, you will be able to sleep without one but it will be in short bursts. A sleep mask will protect your eyes when the lights go up and down on the aeroplane and will also block out the bright lights of the TV screen next to you.
Purchase a good quality eye mask which is comfortable and wraps around your face, I find basic ones do not hug your face completely and therefore still let flashes of light in.
Sadly, so much of sleeping and being comfortable on a long haul flight is down to the people around you, which is why you need essentials to block out these people as much as possible. If you are noise sensitive then earplugs are a must if you want to get some sleep, I work nights and therefore use these earplugs on a daily basis, I use these ones as they mould into your ear as opposed to awkwardly sitting in your lobe.
If you are a light sleeper and have issues sleeping well in everyday life and not just one planes, then Bose has recently released some super fancy earplugs which I have had my eye on. They use engineered soothing sounds to cover up unwanted noise-like snoring partners and noisy neighbours-so you can fall asleep and stay asleep, they hold a charge for 16 hours and an alarm can also be set, ensuring they wake you up at the correct time.
I will admit, I do not actually use a travel pillow, although I probably should, as I always get off a plane with a sore, aching neck. Therefore, the classic wrap-around neck pillows are recommended, also, buy one in advance as they are at least twice the price in the airport.
On my last long haul flight, I flew Vietnam Airline, who actually have compact but very comfy pillows on their planes, it may have found its way into my bag. I am not condoning you do this but it also came in extremely useful when my hotel had awful pillows. I have now placed it into my travel accessories for long haul flights bag for all future trips.
Health and beauty essentials to take on long haul flight
Not just a long flight essential, Tiger Balm is a travel and life essential. It has so many uses and I always have some on me. You can use Tiger Balm for headaches and other general aches (be sure you buy white, not red to avoid staining your head), it can have a calming effect when smelling and it is fantastic for soothing bug bites,
Bio Freeze Spray
Bio Freeze Spray is the newest addition to my long haul flight essentials. Bio Freeze is a topical analgesic which penetrates quickly to relieve aches and pains related to sore muscles and joints. It is easy to apply and the relief can last up to 3 hours, I also find it does not have a strong smell like many of the other products like this. I suffer from quite bad Lumbar pain which is easily aggravated from sitting in one position for too long, therefore on a long haul flight, this is essential for keeping me comfortable.
Tooth Paste and Tooth Brush
An obvious one but it is here to remind you to put it in your hand luggage and not your hold luggage. There is nothing worse than feeling unclean on a long flight. Consider purchasing a bamboo toothbrush next time you need a new one to help with plastic consumption. The majority of long haul airlines do provide a free toothbrush in your seat pack, however, if you bring your own, you can save your packs from each flight and donate them to a homeless shelter for better use.
If you are one of those people who really dislike the idea of brushing your teeth in an aeroplane toilet make sure you pack chewing gum instead. Chewing gum is also very handy if you suffer from ear pain when flying, chewing during take-off/landing can help to equalize your ears.
Refillable Water Bottle
Not an essential as drinks are provided on long haul flights, however, this is here to remind you to think about your plastic consumption. Far too many plastic cups are handed out on flights and by taking a refillable water bottle you can do your bit to help reduce these numbers, all airlines will refill your water bottles for you. They will also save you a ton of money at the airport as many UK airports now have refillable water stations.
Nothing will stop you sleeping on a flight like a headache or a toothache, therefore ensure you have paracetamol in your long haul essentials bag. It is extremely cheap to buy from the pharmacy yet a fantastic pain relief.
Face moisturiser and lip balm
I am far from a beauty expert but your skin can become extremely dry on a long flight. Aside from drinking a ton of water, a simple thing you can do to combat this is to apply moisturiser multiple times throughout the flight. I know many people who also swear by applying an intensive sheet mask during a long haul flight, however, I have not been quite brave enough to do this yet.
Along with dry skin, long flights are also notorious for causing dry, irritable eyes. Purchase refreshing eye drops before your flight (ensure the bottle is under 100mls) and apply them every few hours to remain comfortable throughout.
If you wear contact lens, try not to wear your normal glasses instead of them on the flight to prevent further drying. Be sure to pack your lens and solution in your long haul flight essentials bag so you have quick access to them on arrival.
There are so many germs on a plane purely from the number of people on one flight. Use hand sanitizer frequently to help protect yourself against the germs, the last thing you want is to arrive on your holiday of a lifetime and develop a cold three days later.
Keep all of your beauty and medical long flight essentials together in one bag. By ensuring the bag is TSA approved you will not have to move it all into a plastic bag at airport security, saving on waste and time! Buy all of the products mentioned above and keep them in this bag in your suitcase when you come home, next time you have a flight everything will there ready to use again.
Entertainment in-flight essentials for long haul flight
No matter how much you try, there are sometimes when you just cannot sleep on a flight. During those times it is essential to have good entertainment to pass the time. I often find when I am bored on a plane I get uncomfortable and grouchy, making me more stressed and unable to eventually sleep.
So much of sleeping on a plane is to do with routine. At home, I always read before bed, therefore, I often find reading on a plane helps me to get into the mindset of sleeping. Even if I do not fall asleep, I end up passing time with a great book. Ensure your Kindle is topped up with lots of books before you board your flight, I save a lot of money by subscribing to Prime Reading, Prime Reading is a monthly subscription which allows you free access to 1000s of books on the Kindle Store. Prime reading also includes free downloads of various magazines, which will save you even more money.
I prefer to use an E-reader for flying and holidays as I can take an unlimited amount of books without having to worry about the space and weight of them.
If you want to enjoy the inflight entertainment or music on your phone then you will want to invest in the best headphones for long haul flights, decent noise cancelling headphone as the ones provided free on economy long haul flights are terrible. Screaming children on flights do happen, by having great phones you can drown out the noise, plus every time you use the free headphone you are contributing to landfill waste.
Far from necessity and very much a luxury but the portability of the Nintendo Switch makes it perfect for long haul flight entertainment (for both kids and adults!). The Switch is compact, holds many games and can be played by yourself or with your travel partner. You can also turn the sound off to prevent disturbing other passengers.
If you are travelling to a destination where you feel comfortable taking valuables, then I would consider taking your Nintendo Switch with you. It will pass so much time during flights, airport waits and transfers.
The one thing everyone forgets is a pen but do not forget to pack one. A pen is one of the ultimate travel essentials for long haul flights if you are a creative person inspiration make strike during your flight or you may want to use to just play noughts and crosses. It is also likely you will need it to fill out a landing card on arrival to your destination.
Portable battery pack
Many planes do have inbuilt USB charging in the seats now, however, you cannot charge every item at once. There is nothing worse than your E-reader battery running out halfway through a flight or landing in a new country with no phone battery. Ensure you pack your portable battery pack and associated wires in your hand luggage to prevent this happening.
Miscellaneous long haul flight essentials
Maybe I fly the wrong airlines, but as a Vegetarian, I have never had a good inflight meal. This often results in me being hungry for a lot of the flight and when I am hungry I can not sleep. Now I always pack a few snacks with me for the flight, generally, these will be sealed breakfast bars or biscuits, something small enough to not take up a lot of room but enough to keep me going.
Purchase these before you leave as airport prices are a lot higher in comparison.
Big Scarf / Pashmina
Excel in comfort by packing a big soft scarf in your hand luggage bag, use it as a blanket or use it as an added cushion. If you can find one of the lightweight material ones, it will also come in handy if you are visiting certain areas of South East Asia as you can use it to cover yourself when visiting temples.
The most important thing to enjoy flying is to be comfortable, especially on a long haul flight. Therefore make sure you build yourself a ‘long haul flight essentials’ pack to ensure your next one is a great one.