Top 5 Things to Bring With You on a Long-Haul Flight

“There are only two emotions in a plane: boredom and terror.” – Orson Welles. 

As I’ve done a lot of travel lately, this quote made me smile. So I made a the top things you need to bring with you to make any long-haul flight a little more comfortable. Note: Comfortable is relative – long-haul economy class flights are never actually comfy!  

5) Sleeping aids, and not just little masks and earplugs. Take sleeping pills if you want, or try more natural ones like melatonin – but don’t test them out for the first time if you have to do ‘real life’ things at the other end. They might make you really drowsy! Pills not your thing? Much to my delight,  I just discovered they will give you free beer on long flights. Knock one or two back and pass out for six hours.


Traveling coach is only slightly more uncomfortable than this.

4) Comfortable clothes. I can’t tell you how many women I’ve seen staggering around airports in high heels. Don’t do it! There’s the flight, plus 2 hours before jetting off, plus the security lines, plus getting out at the other end. Wear sensible things  – it’s already bad enough being stuck in one of those teeny tiny seats for hours. I usually wear leggings, a tank top, a cardigan or jacket, and comfy boots.

3) Charged electronics. It’s so frustrating to settle down into your seat, reach cruising altitude, then turn on your iPod to find you forgot to charge it. Make sure you charge it the night before! Some long-haul flights do have outlets for plugging things in…but not all of them.

2) Reading material – I recommend a Kindle, despite my hate for e-books.  They’re  perfect for long flights because you have thousands of books at your disposal. And if one sucks, you can swap it out immediately. E-books are awesome for long flights (especially if you have techie friends who will get you thousands of books for free…)

1) Patience! You’re going to need this one repeatedly. You’re stuck in security lines and your connecting flight is leaving NOW? Patience. You’re 6 hours into your flight and it feels like it’s already lasting forever? Patience. You’re finally at your destination…and they’ve lost your bags? Patience. When you realize you have to re-do the whole long trip to get back to wherever you came from? PATIENCE! 

A few other things that probably help:

    • Not over-packing your carry-on (I actually injured myself from a too-heavy bag)
    • Drinking lots of water
    • Bringing cash for your destination, gum, and sunglasses
    • Traveling alone so you don’t have to deal with anyone else’s misplaced passport/baggage/sense of humor
    • One of those neck pillows – they work!
    • Being petite so you can actually fit in the seat
    • This:

Any other tips for making those awfully long flights a little more bearable? Also, if you’re doing long-haul flights, check out the Top Six Ways to Beat Jet-Lag.


“I did not fully understand the dread term ‘terminal illness” until I saw [London airport] Heathrow for myself” – Dennis Potter

18 thoughts on “Top 5 Things to Bring With You on a Long-Haul Flight

  1. This post is perfect for me since I’m preparing for an early morning departure tomorrow morning… 3 hour train ride to Madrid and then a 8 hour flight… I will be needing lots of PATIENCE!!!

    For me the worst thing is the flight back home… not funny!
    Wish me luck! 😀

  2. I always joke that I’m like a little kid on a plane ride because I stock up on so much stuff to keep myself entertained! There’s music, a book, a notebook for writing, sometimes even my knitting comes along… Wait, now that I think about that last point, maybe I could make a granny joke, as well 🙂

    Also, I can’t say enough for gum gum gum on an airplane, it makes me feel loads better!

    • Haha I do that too! I always pack special ‘treats’ for the plane like magazines or new books or something.

      How do you get on the plane with knitting needles though?? Aren’t those banned?

  3. I always bring reading material & an iPod and end up not using either because I’ve fallen asleep. I think it’s the Japanese falling asleep on moving objects gene.

    Taking pills should come with another warning: A year ago when I was traveling with students, I still had a bit of a cold so I timed some Tylenol PM ever so carefully so that I would pass out as soon as I sat down… and then our flight was delayed by an hour and all my students now have a photo of me passed out (and drooling a little).

  4. I always feel like a freak on long flights as I proceed to block out sound, light, and wrap myself from head-to-toe in my pashmina, but it sounds like I might not be totally alone! The one thing that I always bring that’s not on this list is nutritious food that keeps. Airline food makes me so sick. Orzo salad, salami sandwiches, spring rolls, dumplings, all keep, and I get excited to eat them on board.

    • Ooh food is a good one! I never remember to bring snacks but I’m always jealous of people who do. And yeah, you’re definitely not alone on the ‘blocking out everything’ attempts.

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  7. Bring a bottle of water on the flight (you can carry an empty through the security line except in Japan, and refill with your own local water) to keep from dehydrating.

    I always order the vegetarian menu – special meals arrive first and hot from the warmer, and usually involve a nice light meal of fairly good curried vegetables, couscous, chickpeas, eggplant, etc. Who needs cardboard chicken or leathery beef stew?

    The organic vegan cookies are pretty awful, though, so I bring along a granola bar for dessert.

    • The water bottle one is a good one! Keeping hydrated is super important.

      I’ve heard good stuff about veggie menus too. I’ve never done it, because I usually don’t mind the chicken option. But maybe I’ll try it next time.

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