Essential Long Flight Carry On Items ~ Tips for how to decide and what essential items to pack in your carry on bag when preparing for a long flight.
Tomorrow I will be flying back home after having spent a month visiting my daughter who is presently living in Australia. The longest flight from Brisbane to Los Angeles is 13 hours and then I have to wait another couple of hours to catch my next four-hour flight back home. The journey from door–to-door will be about 24 hours as long as everything runs smoothly. I will also be passing through 16 time zones.
I don’t know about you but I find traveling for that length of time quite tiring. I also find adjusting to such a significant time zone change quite grueling. So I pack my carry on bag with items to help make the time while I am flying as comfortable as possible. I try to arrive at my destination and when I return home as rested and adjusted to jet lag and a long flight time as much as possible.
Just to let you know I do not fly business class. I am at the back of the plane in economy. I do book a seat on the aisle for a couple of reasons. My height is on the tall side and my legs are quite long. I also like the freedom of getting up when I feel like it to stretch and move my body a bit to make sure I don’t end up with a Deep Vein Thrombosis or more commonly known as DVT issue.
Let’s take a look at…
Essential Long Flight Carry On Items
Choice Of Carry On Bag
It is a personal choice as to what style of carry on bag to use on a long flight. Lots of travelers use a small suitcase with wheels. I personally prefer a large backpack so I can easily carry it on my back rather than have my hands tied up pulling a suitcase and carrying a travel handbag.
My carry on bag is nothing exciting. It is a large basic black backpack that I bought at K-Mart. I paid $10.00 for it about four years ago and it perfectly fits my carry on bag travel needs. It has lots of room inside and the zippered pockets on the outside hold a lot of items. It even has a padded pocket for my computer. As a blogger I consider my computer one of my most essential carry on travel items! I love how the backpack and the pockets have a zipper closure.
My carry on backpack is easy to carry on my back when I have to go a long way to switch terminals and look for gates in large airports. When I have to go through security it is easy to open the zipper all the way and pull out and slip back in my computer for inspection. I may not look like I belong on the front cover of a fashion magazine but I definitely feel much less burdened and uncomfortable.
Once I am on the plane my backpack goes up in the overhead bin. It is easy to take it down, place it on my seat, unzip it and get out the item I need. It is just as easy to return the item, zip up the backpack and return to the overhead bin.
Creating A Mind Map To Help Plan Essential Long Flight Carry On Items ~
Whenever I pack for a weekend trip or a several week vacation I always decide what to pack using mind mapping. I used this organizing strategy when I packed my travel handbag and share the details in How To Pack An Organized Travel Handbag. I also used it when I packed my carry on bag.
To make a mind map for what essential carry on long flight items you want to pack all you need is a blank piece of white paper and a pen. In the middle of the paper write down what you are packing and in this case it is your carry on bag. The next step is to think about is what categories of items you will need. I suggest the following categories:
These are the items that help you be more physically comfortable so you can rest and hopefully sleep for the majority of the flight. For me it so worth having these items with me onboard because I want to ensure that I land at my destination and back at home as rested and relaxed as much as possible. Just to let you know I do not care too much about how I look… it is all about being comfortable.
Eye mask – Even though the lights on the plane are turned down on a long flight I like to make it even darker so no light interferes with my beauty sleep.
Ear Plugs/Headset – Ear plugs muffle and a good headset silences airplane noise. These items are so worth investing in and packing in your carry on bag.
Slippers – I pack a pair of ballet style slippers and wear them on the flight. They are very lightweight and are nice to wear on the plane rather than bulky shoes or just stocking feet.
Neck Pillow – I personally think it is worth it to pack a neck pillow on a long flight. It helps support my neck while I am sleeping. The neck pillow also fits very nicely into my carry on backpack.
Twin Size Bed Sheet – Yes… you read that correctly. I like to pack a black twin size bed sheet and drape it over me during the flight for several reasons. The airplane cabin gets quite chilly on long flights and I love being warm and cozy. Airlines supply blankets and pillows but I find they are just not big enough. As I mentioned before I want to be as comfortable as possible so I can sleep as long as possible. Being tucked in a big sheet really helps me feel as if I have tucked myself in to go to bed. It really helps me go to sleep and stay asleep for a longer period of time.
Now you may be thinking that a twin size bed sheet takes up too much room and is too heavy to carry. When folded flat it takes up about as much room as a pair of jeans. Not only is it great for the plane flight but I also use it sit on at the beach and when having picnics in the park when touring and enjoying my travel destination.
Tennis Ball – When I am awake during a long flight I place a tennis ball alternately under my feet and use it to keep both of my feet moving in circles. This is a tip I learned from my massage therapist.
These include any valuable or fragile items that you are traveling with and do not want packed in your checked luggage. In my case I packed the following in my carry on bag:
Camera/Camera Lens – My camera and extra lens are too valuable to pack in the suitcase. The camera bag fits perfectly in the backpack.
Computer /Plugin Charger – Two other items that need to stay near me. Having the plugin charger is handy to have with me in case I need to charge it at the airport during a long layover.
Hard Drives – It is still important to back up files even when traveling. I have one for my photos and one for backing up my files on the computer.
Medication – I suggest keeping your need to have medication in two places. I keep the labeled prescription vial in my travel handbag and a week’s worth in a pill dispenser in my carry on bag. This way if something happens to one of my bags I am at least covered for a week.
Jewelry – I don’t travel with a lot of jewelry and especially not anything expensive. But it is nice to have a few pairs of earrings, couple of necklaces and bracelets to add to an outfit. These pieces also go into my carry on bag in a soft lightweight jewelry bag.
These are any items that do not fit into your travel handbag and keep you occupied for the time on your long flight that you are awake. Most of these items will more than likely also be your items for safekeeping including a computer, iPad, Kindle or any other tech device. I have flown on flights before where the entire entertainment system was not functional or the audio or screen at my seat were not working. I always make sure I have some books, music playlists, television or movies loaded on my devices. I watched half of the first season of the television series ‘Once Upon A Time’ on the way to Australia and plan to watch the second half when I fly home.
The essential items in this category have two purposes. These are the toiletry items that I want to have to wash up before I organize myself to go to sleep during the long flight and for when I wake and prepare to land.
Cosmetic Bag – These items may or may not include: comb, feminine hygiene products, undergarment, deodorant, couple of soft picks to clean your teeth and Q-tips to clean your ears.
I also like to pack a toothbrush, small face soap bar and washcloth. The pump hand soap and paper towel provided in the airplane toilet just are not the same. I use the soap to give my face a good wash before I go to sleep and when I wake up. I use the washcloth as a small towel and to store a now wet bar of soap and damp toothbrush.
I wrap the bar of soap in one corner of the washcloth and roll it up like this…
…then I place the toothbrush in the middle of the washcloth…
…and finally roll everything into a nice roll like this…
Clear Plastic Bag With A Closure – These are the travel size liquid items airport security rules state need to be in a plastic bag: toothpaste, hand lotion, contact lens case and solution, eye drops, eyeglass cleaner.
If you are a Mom traveling with babies or young children I highly recommend you use the same mind mapping system in either the diaper, nappy or child bag.
I also take great care to pack a travel handbag. In case you missed How To Pack An Organized Travel Handbag, you will want to read how I decide what to pack, what items I pack and how I pack them in this bag. When I travel with a lot of cash I also wear a neck pouch that is safety pinned to my bra just to make sure things are little more secure.
It takes planning and decision making deciding what essential long flight carry on items to pack. You do not want a bag too heavy filled with unnecessary items and nor do you want to be in a situation where you were wishing you had packed a needed item. Planning ahead of time really helps to organize your thoughts about what to pack. Creating a mind map with specific categories helps organize your thoughts. What type of carry on bag you use is a personal choice. After having experimented with several different types of carry on bags I am a big fan of a good old basic backpack. I am all about comfort and convenience when it comes to long flight traveling.
YOUR TURN ~
Did I miss an essential item that you have to pack in your carry on bag? What is your favourite type of carry on bag? What long flights have you taken? I would love to have you join in the conversation and share your long flight experiences.