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19 Long Flight Essentials to Carry On

We’ve been on many flights over the years and have narrowed down what I think are essentials specifically for long flights. The nice little extras for first-class and business-class travelers are nowhere to be found for the rest of us flying in economy. If you’re embarking on a long flight, you should pack into your backpack or tote bag some essential items that will help make the flight less grueling and more comfortable. We’ve put together a list of things that we think every passenger on a long flight should bring along.

We’ve been on many flights over the years and have narrowed down what I think are essentials specifically for long flights. The nice little extras for first-class and business-class travelers are nowhere to be found for the rest of us flying in economy. If you’re embarking on a long flight, you should pack into your backpack or tote bag some essential items that will help make the flight less grueling and more comfortable. We’ve put together a list of things that we think every passenger on a long flight should bring along.

Travel pillow

travel neck pillow

Not everyone can sleep on planes, and even if you do manage to get a little shuteye, without a travel pillow, you’re going to get some serious neck pain. Travel pillows are designed to support your neck and prevent your head from lolling forward or to the side. Most travel pillows are U-shaped that wrap around your neck to support your head and chin.

The Travelrest – Nest Memory Foam Pillow was specifically designed for an airline seat. A velcro strap lets you adjust the pillow in position around your neck, and the pillow has a flat taper at the back so it sits flat against the seat.

Sleep mask

sleep mask on plane

For some people, the smallest glimmer of light will prevent them from falling asleep. During overnight flights, not all passengers turn off their overhead light, so you’ll need a sleep mask to block it out. Most sleep masks are made of a silky material with a soft cushiony interior that molds itself around your eyes. An adjustable strap helps keep the mask comfortable and properly fit on your face.

Our favorite sleep mask is the Asutra – Silk Eye Pillow. It’s filled with lavender and flax seeds, which is soothing around the eyes and provides aromatherapy that is conducive to sleeping.

Ear plugs

Mack's - Pillow Soft earplugs

Another useful aid for getting some sleep on a long flight is ear plugs. We’ve tested many different types of ear plugs for sleeping and attending a rock concert, and the two most common type of ear plugs for sleeping are made of foam or silicone.

We’re partial to Mack’s – Pillow Soft Ear Plugs, which are easy to mold into any size ear and are the most comfortable to wear for an extended period of time.

Thick socks

A common side effect of a long flight is the swelling of feet and ankles. But it’s easily remedied by simply walking up and down the aisle occasionally. It can be a hassle to continually slip shoes on and off, so we recommend taking along a pair of thick socks.

Thick socks will keep your feet warm and comfortable, and you won’t have to worry about getting back into your shoes when you want to walk or use the restroom.

Noise-canceling headphones

Apple - Airpods Pro

Don’t bother with those cheap headphones the flight attendants distribute before a flight. Their sound is terrible, and you need to jam them deep into your ears to hear anything. If you want to enjoy the inflight entertainment or watch a film on your laptop or just shut out the screaming baby or overly chatty passenger, invest in a pair of noise-canceling headphones.

There are many noise-canceling headphones to choose from, wired and wireless, running the gamut from inexpensive to ridiculously expensive. The Apple – AirPods Pro are a popular, mid-range headphones that we can recommend.

Hand sanitizer

mini hand sanitizer bottle

An airline may have a decent cleaning regimen after each flight, but it’s a safe assumption that the plane is hardly germ-free. Compounded by breathing-sneezing-coughing passengers, germs are inescapable. Whenever you touch anything on a plane — tray table, seatbelt buckle, restroom handle — use a hand sanitizer immediately afterward. And don’t even think about eating without sanitizing first.

Hair sanitizers are pretty much all the same, but look for the 2-ounce travel size for TSA clearance at airport security.

Disinfectant wipes

disinfectant wet wipes on plane seat

Since COVID, most flight attendants offer a disinfectant wipe when you enter the cabin. By all means, take it! But a single wipe isn’t going to do much to sanitize your personal space. So you should have your own private stash of disinfectant wipes for sanitizing your tray table, seat, armrests, and seatbelt buckle repeatedly throughout the entire flight.

Lip balm

Burt's Bees lip balm

Dehydration is a constant problem on a long flight due to the lack of access to water and the extremely low humidity levels in the airplane cabin. These conditions will cause your lips to dry out. To avoid chapped and cracked lips, drink lots of water and frequently apply a lip balm during the flight.

Skin moisturizer

tube of lotion / skin moisturizer

Air travel can be stressful to your body, and just as your lips will dry out because of the plane’s cabin conditions, your skin will also feel dry and itchy during a long flight.

Buy a travel-size hydrating moisturizer, like Eucerin, O’Keefe’s— or fill a FDA-approved bottle or container with your favorite moisturizer — and apply it to your face and hands when you board the plane. Depending on the length of your flight, you’ll want to apply more moisturizer every couple of hours.


mini travel tissue pack

A travel packet of tissues will definitely come in handy for eye or nose discharge; flying at high altitudes in such a dry environment can cause frequent bouts of sneezing. You may want to wipe your face or hands after eating, and the tiny cocktail napkin distributed with a drink just isn’t enough.

Travel size tissues are readily available everywhere, and they’re great to have for your entire trip.


packaged waffle on plane

Don’t depend on the airline to distribute snacks — let alone, something healthier than salted pretzels — any time other than at scheduled meal times. The TSA is pretty generous as to what snacks are allowed on a flight: dried fruit and nuts, crackers, protein bars, cut-up veggies, jerky are okay. If you want a dip of some sort — like hummus — it needs to be in a clear 3.4 ounce container.

Also some countries don’t allow fresh fruit to be transported on a plane, so check to see if there are any restrictions for the country you’re traveling to.

Collapsible water bottle

three collapsible water bottles

As we already noted, keeping hydrated throughout a long flight is crucial, and you could probably ask for refill after refill of the little plastic cup of water handed out by flight attendants. But it’s a lot more convenient — and cost-efficient — if you have a collapsible water bottle that you’ve prefilled at the airport.

Collapsible water bottles are made of a lightweight flexible material — usually silicone — that, when empty, can be compressed to the size of its lid and stored in a purse or travel kit. When you’re at your destination, you can refill the bottle without having to pay for pricey bottled water.

Travel toothbrush and toothpaste

travel toothbrush and travel toothpaste

If you’ve slept on an overnight flight, you’ll probably want to freshen up before the plane lands. As with many personal hygiene products, you’ll find a travel-size toothpaste almost anywhere.

Travel toothbrushes are more available online. They generally fold in half and are stored in a small case that can be popped into your pocket or travel kit bag. I also prefer a natural travel toothpaste like Tom’s.

Scarf, sweater, or hoodie

Airlines maintain a cabin temperature between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, but the temperature fluctuates during the flight. If you’re on an overnight flight, flight attendants often lower the lights and temperature to encourage passengers to sleep.

With these ever-changing temperatures, it can get pretty frigid, so bring a scarf to wrap around your neck and/or a sweater or hoodie to protect you from getting a chill.

Portable power bank

portable power bank / battery

During a flight, your phone is checking for messages and notifications and causes a drain on the phone’s battery. Keeping your phone in airplane mode prevents a rapid depletion of its battery’s power. But on a long flight, even if your phone is in airplane mode, battery power will continue to deplete.

Not all airlines provide a USB outlet at passenger’s seats. So if you’re worried about having enough power to make a call at your destination, use a portable power bank to keep your phone’s battery charged. I trust the Anker brand for all my charging needs, and this Anker portable battery has both USB-A and USB-C ports to charge all my devices.

USB charging cord

phone charging cable

If you’re lucky enough to score a seat with a USB outlet, then always have a USB charging cord in your personal effects to keep your phone charged. It’s also a good idea to find a USB outlet at the airport to charge up when you’re waiting to board your flight.


If you want to lose yourself in a good book on a long flight, ditch the 900-page five-pounder for a lightweight Kindle. We love the Kindle Paperwhite for its adjustable font size and light brightness and extra-long charge, making it ideal for a long flight.

You can download thousands of pages of books and magazine — many classic novels are free — and games that will keep you entertained for your entire trip.


Zebra - Sarasa Mark On Gel Pen 0.4 mm

Pens aren’t restricted by the TSA, so always pack a pen into your travel bag or purse, especially if you’re flying to Hawaii or a foreign country. In Hawaii, you’ll need to fill out a Customs Declaration Form in pen before you land, even if you have nothing — such as plants, fruits, a pet — to declare.

If you’re flying to and from an international destination, a customs declaration form is also required to be filled out in pen by all passengers. Flight attendants do not distribute pens, so rather than borrow a pen from a fellow passenger, just have your own pen at hand. See our review of all the best pens available.

Luggage tracker

Apple Airtag / luggage tracker

With constantly shifting weather patterns, more and more flights are delayed or canceled, and your luggage could get lost, especially if you need to change planes. You should always have a luggage tracker in one of your checked bags, so you’ll know exactly where they are.

The two most popular luggage trackers are the Apple Air Tag for Apple phones and Tile Pro for both OIS and Android devices.

Bryan Vu, Editor

Bryan is our cooking and kitchen expert, with more than 15 years of experience of cooking and testing kitchen products. When outside of the kitchen, he enjoys woodworking, photography, videography and figuring out how to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. He thoroughly enjoys discovering the best, whether it’s ingredients or equipment, and finding products that can stand the rigors of daily use.