No one likes a long-haul flight. Unless you are flying first-class, it’s gonna be a slog. But, with the right preparation, you can turn those 8+ hours stuck in the sky into a nearly enjoyable experience.
Pulling on years of experience flying for business and for fun, we have compiled a list of the true, long-haul flight essentials. Keeping your cabin bag light is an essential in and of itself. This list should help you stay focused on what’s important. Most importantly, it will give you the best shot possible at getting through your flight and to your destination as enjoyable as possible.
Most long-haul flights are facilitated by airlines that provide on-board entertainment systems, and this will be your best hope of beating the threat of boredom. Unfortunately, even the best music and latest films are often let down by the headphones that are supplied on most flights. Investing in a set of high-quality headphones can significantly improve the journey.
When buying headphones for your journey, opting for wired over wireless is the best option as configuring the latter to infotainment systems isn’t always possible. In-ear headphones are often the cheapest option and they can be worn discreetly. Over-the-ear may take up a little extra space in your carry-on bag, but offer less movement, which can be useful during turbulence. Meanwhile, noise-cancelling headphones (while not essential) can be very useful when trying to sleep or drown out the heavy breathing of the passenger sitting next to you.
Assuming that you have music or video-playing devices on your possession, the headphones will subsequently come to the rescue on excursions and can enhance your experiences of sunbathing around the pool. Perfect.
The Best Buys
In-ear: Linklike QUAD
Over-the-ear: Sony MDR-ZX110NA Noise Cancelling
A Water Bottle
Airport security means that you cannot take liquids into the departure gate. But if you carry an empty reusable bottle, it’s possible to fill it up before getting to the departure gate. Even the budget airlines, which are notoriously expensive in regards to onboard beverages, will usually fill the bottle up with clean drinking water. The service isn’t always fast, but a 500ml or 1l bottle should see you through the light while only needing one or two refills.
Environmentally conscious travellers can take pride in knowing they’ve avoided single-use bottles too. Given the impact that good hydration levels will have on your overall alertness, energy levels, and mood during the long -haul light, Carrying a water bottle is one of the best travel tips of all. Additional benefits include removing the threat of getting drinks mixed up with others, as well as having a solution for unforeseen delays – not only at the airport.
Parents can use this as a way to ensure that kids stay hydrated and avoid sugar-heavy alternatives while also using child-friendly designs for added practicality. An attractive design can excite them too. Water bottles are modern day long-haul flight essentials.
The Best Buys
Adults: Zorri Water Bottle
Kids: Toy Story Water Bottle
A Phone Charger
We all love our tech devices, not least because smartphones and tablets can now store valuable information such as e-tickets and documents. Likewise, many airlines provide WiFi on long flights, allowing you to use your device to its full potential. Unfortunately, the battery life on most devices will run out long before landing, which is why a portable charger and lead should be essential additions to your carry on bag.
Portable battery charger units are now readily available and can completely transform your journey. Aside from improving the entertainment opportunities, they remove any fears of being left without power or a way to contact friends and family during an emergency. Choosing a compact unit enables you to carry it in your pocket. Another top tip is to use the cable to charge your device directly from the plane’s USB outlet, which will save the power in your battery charger too.
Don’t forget to check the compatibility with your smartphone device, though. Buying a portable charger that isn’t capable of charging your device is a redundant piece of technology that will seriously frustrate you.
The Best Buys
Long flights can get uncomfortable, not least for your feet. After hours of rushing around to make the flight, the long-haul journey is an opportunity to relax. Taking your shoes off is advised as the feet can swell, but the thought of unleashing your smelly feet can create a social awkwardness. A fresh pair of socks will leave you feeling fresher and more comfortable. If you’re worried about putting them on at your seat, you can always nip to the toilet.
While any fresh pair of socks will have positive impacts, the long-haul nature of the flight may dictate that it’s better to choose compression socks. This is particularly important for those with circulation problems, preventing the uncomfortable experience of pins and needles. In severe cases, wearing compression socks can even stop strokes and other major health problems.
Unless you are planning to do some washing during the vacation, it’s best to carry two pairs of compression socks – one for the outward journey and another or the return.
The Best Buys
A Sleep Kit
While the right preparations can make the long-haul light far more enjoyable, it should not be ignored that sleeping is one of the best ways to pass the time. Aside from breaking up the journey on a mental level, it will stop you from becoming overtired when you reach the destination. However, a lot of people struggle to sleep on airplanes, which is why building a sleep kit is an essential step to consider.
A comprehensive sleeping kit should aim to block out distractions, provide comfort, and prevent any danger of waking up feeling worse than when you started. The perfect kit should include:
A neck pillow will add comfort, support your posture, and prevent issues like back pains. The soft texture is far nicer on the skin than the often coarse seat headrests. Memory foam is usually the best solution by far:
The best buy:
You cannot expect all surrounding passengers to keep the shutters closed just for your benefit. An eye mask blocks out the external lights as well as the lights of the cabin. The most important factor is that they cover the whole area around your eyes.
The best buy:
Noise-cancelling headphones are a great way to listen to music in peace. When you want to sleep, though, earplugs are the best. While some airlines offer the basic foam inserts, it’s best to choose custom-fit solutions.
The best buy:
Many people struggle to sleep on flights because they are still in their normal travel clothes. It’s less comfortable and serves as a mental block. Moisturising sleep suits designed for travel are the ultimate solution.
Remember to research what is included with the flight, however, as some airlines will offer moisturising sleep suits as part of their on-flight amenity kit, especially for their first or business class passengers.
The Best Buy:
Finally, you may wish to use sleeping pills. However, you should consult your doctor or pharmacist first while also confirming what the airline allows you to include in your carry on luggage.
Something To Do
While sleep is the ultimate way to pass the time, very few people (except the lucky ones in first class) are lucky enough to sleep uninterrupted throughout the entire duration. While the infotainment system will help too, it’s best to take matters into your own hands by preparing some items of your own.
We all have different interest. Yours could be reading a book or magazine, writing, completing a crossword, doing an appropriate craft, listening to a podcast, or getting on with some work. There is no one right or wrong answer – except the one that works for you.
Long-haul journeys are a necessary evil to enjoy our holiday or business trips. While we all dread them, there’s no need to let them stand in your way of enjoyment. With the right planning and long-haul flight essentials, you can make the journey far less stressful.
Be honest with yourself as to whether you’ll sleep. Prioritise the items that will make the biggest impact and try to avoid packing too many items. Do all of these things in style, and the long-haul journey will fly by.