Travel

The best gear for long flights

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young woman is on passenger seat at airplane

Image: Shutterstock/hxdyl

If you’ve ever been on long flights, you know just how inconvenient and uncomfortable they can be. But what’s often more cumbersome are the products we take to help pass the time. Fumbling around your bags to look for this item or that makes stress levels rise and puts off much needed sleep.

The gear needed for long flights can be broken down into three categories: personal wellness, entertainment, and comfort. Before you pack, it’s crucial to decide if the items on your list fit into these categories. If not, pack it in your suitcase and forget about it.

Check out this list of the best gear for long flights. Remember: keep it simple, light, and convenient and you’ll be cruising at altitude with a smile on your face.

Bags

Before you decide what gear to pack, it’s important to decide in what bag you will pack it. Most long haul flights allow two carry-on items in the cabin, so a great rule of thumb is pack one larger bag with a spare change of clothes (in case your checked bag gets lost), important medications, and valuables that might get stolen out of your suitcase. The second, smaller bag will be placed under the seat in front of you and contain only your go-to gear for the flight.

Here are a few luggage options for carry-ons on long flights:

Big

  • Classic weekender travel duffel
  • Herschel Supply Co. novel duffel bag

  • Nike duffel bag

Small

  • Fjallraven Kanken daypack

  • Osprey Porter 46 travel backpack bag

Wellness

In-flight wellness is sometimes impossible to maintain, but luckily there are ways to make a worthwhile attempt.

In general, be sure to pack any medications, lotions, care products (toothbrush, face wipes, etc.) in a small, easy-to-grab bag. Feel free to pack this in your larger carry-on unless you think you’ll need it often during the flight. Flight 001 has a wonderful line of space-saving internal bags to help keep your stuff organized.

An important factor to maintaining inflight wellness is staying hydrated. As a rule of thumb, always bring an empty reusable water bottle and fill it from a fountain after passing through security. There are pros and cons to different bottles (Nalgenes fit more water, but they’re bulkier; CamelBak’s are thinner but the spout might pop up in your bag), so think about your needs before purchasing. A few great options are:

Another way to keep healthy during a long flight is to avoid the provided in-flight meal and instead bring your own snacks. Airline food it notorious for being loaded with sodium, preservatives, and other nasty ingredients, so keep your mind and body healthy by bringing along protein and carb loaded snacks like nut mixes. Keep everything contained in these reusable zipper quart bags.

Entertainment

Keeping yourself busy during a long flight is easier than ever, due to the abundance of in-flight entertainment these days. Most planes have individual screens loaded with movies, TV shows, live TV, and games to help pass the time. But to help cut mechanical noise down and block out the screaming children, consider investing in noise-cancelling headphones. Bose products are a standard in the industry.

Pro tip: leave the giant laptop in your larger carry-on. Sure, you might get unlucky with an older model of airplane that doesn’t have individual screens, in which case you can take it out. Otherwise, don’t bother with it until you arrive at your destination. Tablets, such as the iPad or Kindle Fire, are smaller and can be added to your smaller carry-on if you wish.

Comfort

Staying comfortable on a long haul flight is an art form. For sleepers, this inflatable neck pillow, ear plug, and eye mask set by MLVOC comes in a conveniently compact drawstring bag.

A comfort item that everyone needs on an airplane is access to layers. It’s impossible to know if you’ll be hot or cold in the air, so bring an extra flannel, hoodie, or pullover sweater so you can layer up if need be. Need to look professional when you land? This cowl neck for women and this crew neck sweater for men are the perfect solution!

Kate Wilke is the content manager at 301brands, and she's the editor of DailyBeautyHack.com, and the lifestyle editor at OhMyVeggies.com. When she's not paddle boarding or skiing, she's informing someone about global warming (or cats) over a local double IPA. Follow her on Instagram — @kateewilke