I’ve taken quite a few long flights in my time. Actually, I take at least three return trips across an ocean a year, and I know how uncomfortable those flights can be. I’m a perpetually restless person so even though I don’t have any sort of phobia or anxiety when it comes to flying, I still dread them; stuck between two strangers, squirming in my seat at the thought of having to stay relatively still for 10 hours.
There are, however, things you can take in your hand luggage to make your flight more comfortable. And as a novice traveler, I would swear by all 10 of these items.
10. Face Moisturizer
Even if you’re someone who doesn’t religiously use moisturizer, you’re going to want this. The air on planes dries your skin out at an alarming rate and can even make people break out if your skin isn’t used to it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten off a plane, looked in the mirror, and saw an alarming amount of dry patches on my face. It’s gross and uncomfortable.
Putting moisturizer on at the start and end of your flight will really minimize the risk of this happening. What’s even better is, there are moisturizers specifically designed for flight use!
9. A Pair Of Fluffy Socks
It’s not really a great idea to keep your shoes on for the whole flight. Did you know your feet actually swell when you’re flying? So even the shoes that once felt super comfortable may actually start to feel awful when flying.
Make sure you pack a pair of fluffy, comfortable socks to change into. No one minds you taking your shoes off on a long flight—it’s standard practice on long hauls—but chances are, no one wants to see your bare feet either. And trust me, odors can really kick up on a flight. Make sure you have a pair of comfy, cozy socks handy, and your feet will thank you for them.
8. A Tablet, Laptop, Or Some Sort Of Electronic Loaded With Movies
If possible, if you have one, it’s a really good idea to make sure your electronic device is loaded with movies. And make sure they’re loaded to play off WiFi — don’t rely on Netflix because even if the plane does have WiFi, airline Internet isn’t good enough to support streaming services!
Also worth noting is that you shouldn’t rely on the in-flight entertainment, if that’s what you were thinking of doing. It’s true that flights nowadays tend to have a good selection of movies, but technology is not infallible, and a lot of the time there’s a fault that prevents them from working.
7. An Extra Phone Charger
I have an iPhone, and I can’t tell you how many Apple USB cables I go through. It seems to be a common complaint of iPhone users. The chargers just aren’t all that great, much as I gravitate towards Apple products in general. The last thing you want is for your phone to be on 2%, and you try to plug it in to charge because you need to contact someone when you land, and — boom. The phone isn’t recognizing that it should be charging. Maybe I’m dependent on technology, but this is heart attack material I’d rather prevent this entirely. I always make sure there is an extra cable buried in my bag.
6. An Empty Water Bottle
You can’t take liquids through security which is annoying, but a necessary safety measure— well, at least not liquids over 100ml. What you can do is take an empty water bottle and ask the flight attendant to refill it when they have a moment.
Sure, you can just ask the flight attendant for water and not take a bottle, but you’ll get a small cup of it and if you want to stay hydrated, you’ll be constantly bothering them. At least taking a bottle means you won’t have to grab their attention as much because once it’s full, you’ll be set for a while.
5. Layers, Layers, Layers
Layers are super important when you dress for a long haul flight because you’re going to be unable to predict the temperature. Is it going to be hot on the plane, or is it going to be cold? The latter is most likely but again, it's hard to predict. It's best to dress in a way where you can adapt. My go-to tends to be leggings, a top, and then a hoodie I can pull on or off depending on how I feel.
The good news is that most long-haul flights also provide a blanket you can wrap around yourself in if need be.
4. Snacks (But Be Careful Of What You Choose!)
Snacks are a good idea to take on a long-haul flight. Even though most of them provide meals, there’s no guarantee you’re going to like the food or that you won’t be hungry later. Bloating tends to happen on long flights though, so be careful of what you choose. Salty, fattening foods might taste good, but it’s not going to feel very good as the hours go by. You may feel deeply uncomfortable after your choices. Nuts are a good choice (if you aren’t allergic!), or just something light to nibble on occasionally to keep the hunger at bay.
3. A Good Pair Of Earphones
Airlines often provide earphones, but they probably won’t be good ones. The audio on the in-flight entertainment can also be hard to hear as is. A better choice is actually to bring your own. And it isn’t just the audio quality this affects — it’s your comfort.
Some earphones can actually make your ears hurt, and I know this first-hand because it’s a problem I have. Take a pair of earphones that are tried and tested that you already know are extremely comfortable; otherwise, you might be in for a flight of being unable to watch movies and shows at all.
Pro-tip: noise cancelling headphones are also an extremely good bet.
2. A Good Travel Pillow
This might go without saying since they’re such a common necessity for flights these days, but some people who aren’t used to flying don’t consider to buy a pillow. Or they say neck pillows are a pointless purchase because they can never sleep on planes.
I kind of get it. I’m also one of those people who’s completely unable to sleep on flights (which sucks, because sleep would make a flight go so much faster!). But even if you don’t intend to doze, a travel pillow will give you somewhere to lean your head and make you so much more comfortable.
And even if you don’t think you’ll sleep, maybe you’ll get lucky.
1. Motion Sickness Pills
I’ve had friends who’ve never had one instance of motion sickness in their life randomly get sick on planes. And it’s the worst when it happens with no way to stop it. Focusing on a movie or a book usually makes things worse, and that means you’re left to just stare into space, swallow, and hope you don’t end up vomiting on a stranger.
(Someone has done this to me on a flight — please don’t be that guy.)
Have some motion sickness pills just in case, so you can pop a couple if you’re hit with a surprising wave of nausea. Or at least practice some other tips to stop it!