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How to Survive a Long Flight: Carry-On Essentials

CARRY-ON

Hello! This post outlines what I consider carry-on essentials for a long flight. After years of experience, I have learned it is just as important to pack for your flight as it is to pack for your vacation!

*Read the previous post in this series on “Choosing Your Seat”

Please note, this post does contain affiliate links.


carry-on essentials from smelltheroses.com

Helpful Hint: Pin the image above for future reference!

Tip #2: Carry-On Essentials

Know What You’re Allowed

We all know how strict airlines are with what you can and can’t carry-on a plane. Although the rules tend to be consistent amongst each airline, I always recommend you double-check your airline’s carry-on policy before getting to the airport. This will prevent you from possibly being forced to check a bag you intended to carry-on.

Carry-On Policies

Since long flights tend to book-up, airlines follow their carry-on policies very closely on these flights. Most airlines allow you to bring one carry-on and one personal item in the cabin with you (but keep in mind, these rules are constantly changing).

  • Carry-On: A small size luggage that must be stored in the overhead compartment (small luggage, weekender bag..)
    • Approximate Dimensions: 9″ x 14″ x 22″ = 22 cm x 35 cm x 56 cm (including handles and wheels)
  • Personal Item: Any item that can fit under the seat in front of you (purse, briefcase, backpack, laptop bag, diaper bag..)
  • Additional Items: Most airlines will allow you to bring other little items on board with you in addition to your carry-on/personal item, such as a pillow, blanket, umbrella, or jacket.

Picking the Perfect “Personal Item” Bag:

On a long flight, your personal item will be your survival kit (you may think I’m being funny, but I’m not)! It is best to store anything you will need access to during your flight in your personal item since it will be stored under the seat in front of you. Therefore, I like a bag that is spacious yet compact enough that it doesn’t take away all of my leg room.

Here are some vegan bags I recommend:


What To Pack!

Now that you have the perfect bag picked out, let’s discuss what you should consider packing for the flight. It may seem like a lot, but you can pick and choose which are essentials for you during a long day of travel. (Side Note: all suggested items are made from non-animal materials or faux leather!)

Click here for a condensed PDF version of this carry-on packing list!

Travel Wallet &/or Passport Holder — 

Traveling is a good time to switch out your regular wallet for something a bit larger that can hold all your important travel documents (passport, tickets, hotel information, car rental, cash, credit cards, etc..). Organization is key! Plus, some wallets come with technology to prevent hackers from stealing your credit card information using RFID. Here are my picks:

Pillow & Blanket

The ones the airline provides are reused and it’s unclear what their sanitation process entails between flights (if there even is one). Since flights can get chilly & if you tend to be cold, dress in layers and pack a light blanket. If you are a fan of neck pillows, try to find one that inflates or is compactable. Here are my picks:

Self-Care Items

Just because you are on a long flight does not mean your personal care routine goes out the window. Remember, you are going to be on a flight for the majority of your day! Side Note: If you are comfortable with it, I recommend going make-up free so you can easily care for your skin during your flight.

  • Facial Wipes: Use these to freshen up mid-flight or prior to landing. Trust me, you’ll feel so much better with a clean face! Confession, I have even used these on my underarms when my connecting flight got canceled and I was stuck in an airport for hourssss. #lifesaver — Here are my picks:

Clothing —

Here is my advice on dressing/packing clothes for a long flight:

  • Please wear socks!! You will most likely have to take your shoes off while going through security so make sure you are wearing socks with your shoes otherwise you are going to find yourself barefoot in the dirty airport. 😣
  • Consider your footwear carefully… Make sure to wear shoes that are easy to remove and put back on quickly since you’ll have to do this at the security checkpoint. Also, keep in mind the climate of your final destination!
  • Dress in layers! Airplanes can feel warm/stuffy when you first get on but once you reach altitude the cabin quickly gets chilly. Save room in your bag by wearing a sweater/sweatshirt onto the plane (you can always take it off and use it as a pillow).
  • Pack or wear appropriate clothing for your destination! A long flight often equates to a drastic change in climate. If you’re heading somewhere tropical, yoga pants and a pair of flip-flops in your carry-on will keep you comfortable upon arrival. Going somewhere cold? Have a jacket in your carry-on or easily accessible from your luggage.

Electronics —

Entertainment —

  • Many long-distance flights have seatback entertainments systems which are a life saver! However, if watching TV is not for you, make sure you have some other source of entertainment. Long flights are prime time to start that book you’ve been meaning to read! Here are some suggestions:
    • Books/magazines
    • Adult coloring book & colored pencils
    • Drawing pad

Food/Snacks —

  • It is always better to pack your own meals & snacks. However, there are certain types of foods you should stay away from on a long flight. I have an entire post on what-to-eat during long-distance flights coming soon (“How to Survive a Long Flight: Meals & Snacks”). Stay tuned!

Miscellaneous Items —


Did I miss anything? I hope not (if I did, let me know in the comments)! This list may seem like a lot to pack but I promise it will all fit in your personal item and be a life saver on your flight.

Click here for a condensed PDF version of this carry-on packing list! 


Thank you for reading!

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