Long flights feel like waiting for Christmas. We can’t stand the waiting, the anticipating, but we know at the end of our several-hour flight is an exotic location waiting for us - our Christmas morning. But how can we make that long wait more tolerable? In many ways, we’re still that fidgety child in the back seat of our parents’ car, drawling: ‘’Are we there yet?’’ The trouble is, it would be a little inconvenient to ask the same question to the pilot, what with him being locked away in the cockpit. In other words, we’re going to have to figure out a way to deal with these long flights ourselves.
It all starts with packing the right things in our carry-on. Who cares that we’re adults now? We still get bored, we still need entertainment. So we should pack the right things in our bag to make sure we do not get bored and that we’re comfortable throughout the flight. Those are the two most important things: comfort and entertainment.
We have a few ideas on how we can survive a long flight. Here are 15 things we need and 5 things we can leave at home the next time we find ourselves on an 8 hour + flight.
20 An eye mask – to catch our forty winks
First things first, we are going to need an eye mask in our carry-on if we plan on getting any sleep on the plane. Not everybody gets on with an eye mask, but they can be useful when trying to wind down and catch a nap. They are especially convenient if we’re flying in the daytime when it’s still light. The mask blocks out the light and helps us to nod off.
When our brain senses total darkness, the production of melatonin – the sleep chemical – occurs. By blocking out the light, we improve our chances of falling asleep on the plane.
19 Earplugs – to block out the sound of insomniac babies
For some reason, we always end up getting stranded on a flight comprising of at least one screaming baby. And the screaming, oh that ear-piercing screaming, never seems to end. Now we’ve blocked out the light with our eye mask, we need to block out the sound of those sleepless babies, that guy crunching chips beside us, and the distant giggling of students. Perhaps there’s a snorer nearby that’s keeping us awake.
Earplugs are the best solution to dissolve all that distracting background sound. Noise-cancelling earplugs or headphones are required for this and it’s a recipe for a sound sleep.
18 An inflatable travel pillow – for that extra comfort
Depending on how long our flight is, sometimes it’s necessary to nap on the plane. Not only will it ease jetlag, it will also cure flight boredom. We’ll be too busy sleeping to get bored. Why not make the sleeping experience more enjoyable by bringing an inflatable travel pillow along? The last thing we want when we arrive is a raging neck ache, caused by seven hours of unintentional head rolling. The only way to prevent it is by perching our neck on one of those squidgy travel pillows – you’ll wonder how you ever survived without one when you try it.
17 That book we never have time to read
For those who don’t plan on sleeping, why not bring a book along? We all have that book that’s been sitting on our coffee table for the past 12 months, waiting to be read. So read it!
There’s no better time to catch up on reading than during a long-haul flight. We have so much free time to lose ourselves in that crime fiction book we bought last year, or that chick lit novel a friend bought us last Christmas.
Don’t waste time wondering why the guy on the right aisle is on his cell phone, regardless of the stewardess’s notice to keep them switched off. Settle back, relax, and start reading.
16 Or a laptop filled with movies – for those who don’t own a book
Not everybody likes reading. For some people, the best way to wind down during a flight is to watch a movie. Bring a laptop or tablet filled with movies or music to prevent boredom on the flight. If sleeping isn’t on your agenda, the best alternative is to either read a book or watch a movie. This way, our mind is engrossed in the story and we won’t even be thinking about the 6-hours-to-go. We’ll be at our destination before we know it. That is why it is crucial to bring entertainment. It will make the long-haul flight much more bearable.
15 Winter socks – because cold feet are the worst thing
Especially when flying through the night, planes can get pretty chilly. Many people forget to bring a pair of socks in their carry-on. But if we’re just wearing a pair of flip-flops or sandals, it’s nice to be able to remove them and slip into some cozy winter socks. This will prevent cold feet and generally just make us feel more at home on the plane. Comfort is also key when flying. What’s the point in being uncomfortable for 10 hours, when a slight packing adjustment could change all that? Plus, nobody wants their bare feet on the plane floor (especially the lavatories!).
14 A power charger – to keep electrical devices alive
Bringing a portable charger along will save any disappointment along the journey. The last thing we want to happen halfway through a movie is for our battery to run out. But this could happen if we don’t bring our backup charger with us. Believe us, it will save a lot of heartache during the trip if we remember to pack it. This only applies to people planning on bringing their laptop with them. If we’re only bringing a book, we don’t need to bring a backup charger. Still, it’s useful to have on us for our cell phones. At least we’ll always have a battery.
13 Wipes – because germs are everywhere on planes
Planes are notorious for being covered with germs. To prevent catching a cold from the dirty environment, we should bring wipes with us. Bleach wipes are useful for sanitizing our seat and surrounding areas. If we keep our personal space clean and free from germs, we lessen the chance of us catching a cold while we’re there. But we’re not talking about makeup removal wipes. As good as they are for getting rid of our raccoon eyes, we need bleach wipes that will remove bacteria. Just make sure they don’t have an overwhelming smell before buying them. Nobody wants to put up with a bad smell.
12 Sleeping pills – if all else fails
Did the eye mask, earplugs and travel pillow not do the job? Although these three things help the majority of passengers nod off, not everything works for everyone. It’s not a one-cure-fits-all all kind of thing here. Some people have a hard time falling asleep on planes, which is when it’s time to bring in the sleeping pills.
There is a range of over-the-counter sleeping pills we can buy that work well in helping us sleep. Melatonin spray also works at easing tension and making us sleepy on the plane. Ask your local pharmacist for recommendations to find the best sleep aid for you.
11 Toiletry bag – for all our essentials
A long-haul flight requires a few essentials: a disposable toothbrush, hand sanitizer, wipes, deodorant, and possibly dry shampoo. Keep everything organised by placing all of these beauty essentials in a mini-toiletry bag. It doesn’t need to take up much space in our bag, but it will be much more convenient than having everything scattered everywhere. There’s also a higher possibility of something spilling and that would just be plain annoying.
Some people even enjoy indulging in a little spa session on the plane. And what better time to rejuvenate than on a lengthy flight? Bring along a face mask and some creams if that’s your thing.
10 A water bottle to stay hydrated (plane air is super dry!)
Because plane cabin air is so dehydrating, it’s vital that we drink plenty of water while up in the air. Bring a refillable water bottle and keep it filled. Luckily, most airports have water fountains we can use to fill it up. We can also ask the flight attendant to fill up our water bottle while on the flight.
Just make sure you fill the water bottle after you go through security because we’re not allowed liquids on the plane – only anything under 30 ml. Believe us when we say you’ll feel a lot better when you land if you are hydrated.
9 Healthy snacks – unless we want to pay plane food prices
Plane food prices are sky high. They are way too steep for most us. Most of the time, we’re not even keen on the food. Plus, plane food tends to be processed and unhealthy. Why not bring our own snacks? This way, we get to choose what we want to eat on the plane, instead of being forced to buy something we don’t like. Bringing our own snacks will save time and money.
The best kind of snacks to bring includes dried fruit like cranberries and raisins, and cheese and crackers. Stick to foods that are high in protein and low in carbs.
8 A scarf or an extra layer of clothing – for when it gets chilly
Don’t want to use the airplane blanket? Nobody does. The best way to prevent getting chilly on the plane is to bring an extra layer of clothing with us. If a jacket takes up too much space in the carry-on, consider bringing a scarf instead or wear it.
A big scarf can double up as a blanket and keep us warm during a cool flight. Some people fly in summer clothes because they’re travelling to an exotic destination, but end up relying on the airplane blanket for warmth during the flight. Avoid this by bringing your own or save space with a scarf instead.
7 Gum – for after the food
Gum can fight bad breath after eating and make us feel cleaner and refreshed after eating.
But that’s not all it’s useful for. Gum can also relieve ear pressure during take-off and landing. Some people suffer a great deal with ear pressure throughout the flight, which only makes the whole journey miserable and uncomfortable. Prevent it by bringing gum.
Alternatively, pack hard-boiled sweets, which work just as well in alleviating ear pain and popping. Gum is generally a good packing item to have on us for when we travel, just in case we can’t get to a sink to brush our teeth.
6 Crossword puzzles
Off the plane, most of us don’t have the time to sit and do crossword puzzles. So there’s no better time to start doing them than on a long plane ride. It’s one of the few times in our life that we can sit down and have free time to do pretty much what we like. Whether that’s reading a book, watching a movie, or filling in a crossword puzzle, long-haul flights do give us the chance to do those things we don’t have the time to do in normal life. To save ourselves from getting bored and give our brains a little challenge, bring a crossword puzzle.
5 Leave behind: that giant hardback guidebook
Praise to those people who want to learn more about the country they’re visiting before arriving. However, we can save ourselves a lot of space if we don’t have to drag that massive destination guidebook along with us. It takes us way too much space in our carry-on.
Fortunately, there is a way around it. We can either rip out the pages of our guidebook because, let’s face it, we’re not going to read all 500-pages at once. Or we can photocopy the pages in the book we wish to read. Another idea is to buy a digital copy of the guidebook for our Kindle.
4 Leave behind: manicure tools
We know pampering ourselves with a little manicure during the flight is an easy and enjoyable way to pass time. Still, we might want to think this through before bringing along our nail equipment. First of all, nail scissors will usually get confiscated if found in your hand luggage. Some people have even had their nail clippers disposed of.
Another factor to consider is the potent smell of nail polish. While nail polish is allowed in our liquids bag, we don’t think other passengers will be too happy about the overwhelming aroma of nail paint drifting through the cabin.
3 Leave behind: fresh fruit
Not only will it be gross by the time we get on the plane (because fresh fruit doesn’t keep well once peeled and cut), we’re actually not always allowed to bring fresh fruit on the plane. It’s important to check beforehand if we really want to bring fruit onboard.
If we want to save ourselves the risk, the best thing to do is stick to dried fruits and nuts. However, sometimes nuts aren’t always a good option – what happens if someone on board has a terrible nut allergy? It’s better to be safe than sorry. There are other snacks we can eat.
2 Leave behind: that giant bottle of our favorite shampoo
Travellers really need to start reading plane protocol before flying, because the amount of times we see people getting their big bottles of perfumes thrown away at customs is unreal.
It happens all the time. We know we have our favourite beauty products but the last thing anyone wants to happen at security is for them to get thrown away. And there’s nothing we can do about it. Either pack them in your checked-in luggage or bring miniatures along.
Unless you want your favourite bottle of shampoo or perfume confiscated, be sure to check out the guidelines. Sometimes it does change, so it’s good to look into it.
1 Leave behind: lighters or matches – basically anything flammable
Leave all flammable items at home. Don’t bring them on the plane. In fact, we probably wouldn’t get on the plane with them anyway, because they’ll be confiscated at security. Anything from matches to lighters to bleach is not allowed. Although TSA does allow lighters in our hand luggage, they warn that we can only pack one and that it must contain fuel. Lighters without fuel will be inspected. However, some passengers claim they’ve had their lighter confiscated at security.
Maybe, for our own sakes, it’s better just to leave all the flammables at home. It will save time and stress.
References: veranda.com, airfarewatchdog.com, travel-made-simple.com