Experts in Australia, New Zealand & South Pacific

What to pack for a long-haul flight

Posted 09 May 2016
What to pack in your hand luggage for a long-haul flight is a tricky business. It can really make or break how comfortable you feel on your journey.

If your flight is only a few hours long, you can usually do without your neck pillow. But if you’ve got a 22-hour flight ahead of you, then there are some carry-on essentials you’ll want – and need – close at hand.

First, let’s cover off what you should wear on your flight.

The best clothes for flying

Wearing the right clothes is crucial to having a comfortable journey. Wearing too little and you’ll freeze in the aircon. Wearing too much and you’ll roast like an Eskimo in the outback. Layers are the key.

You will need a warm jumper or cardigan for the flight, but be prepared to take it off – especially if you’re stopping over in a hot (or humid) place like Dubai or Singapore. What may be an attempt to get some fresh air could turn into a sauna-like experience.

It’s also best to wear something comfortable on your bottom half. Jeans are OK, but joggers are better. Skirts and dresses for the ladies aren’t great options either, especially if you’re the lucky one who gets to sprawl out on the spare seats. Suitable trousers equals dignity intact.

As for footwear, our advice would be to wear something that is easy to slip on and off. Due to the altitude, your feet may swell during the flight. Removing your shoes and doing some seat-based exercises will help prevent any ankle expansion and keep your circulation in check.

Most airlines have information about in-flight exercises. Check the reading material available or ask your flight attendant to demonstrate, they’ll be more than happy to help. Another thing to remember is that you’ll want to stretch your legs as much as you can during your lay over so comfy walking shoes are a must.

Always take an extra pair of socks too. If you’re like me and leave your shoes off for the whole flight, you might want another thicker pair of socks to keep your toes toasty. If you do forget them, or your jumper for that matter, don’t hesitate to ask the flight attendant for a second blanket. The crew will do everything they can to ensure you have a pleasant (and warm) journey.

The travel essentials

These are the carry-on items that will make your flight more comfortable – and manageable.

Landing at your destination feeling exhausted is sure to put you off flying long haul. However, with the right toiletries and travel gear, you can freshen up mid way and even get a bit of shut eye.

So if you want to touch down feeling refreshed and ready to explore, here are some suggestions for your carry-on checklist:

• Neck pillow

• Eye mask

• Ear plugs – most airlines provide some but they are never as good as the wax ones

• Moisturiser

• Lip balm

• Hand sanitizer

• An empty water bottle (or buy one in departures) – keeping hydrated is crucial. Ask the flight attendant to fill your bottle up for you or try to find a water fountain in the departure lounge before taking off AND during your stopover

• Tooth brush and mini tube of toothpaste

• Headphones – it’s always best to bring your own and noise-cancelling headphones are a very good investment

• Wet wipes

• Hairbrush

• Sleeping pills – if you really struggle to nod off

• Eye drops

• Roll-on deodorant – aerosols are prohibited

• A pen – always handy for filling out custom forms

• Painkillers and Imodium (just in case!)

• Extra snacks – the airline will usually provide you with enough food or give you a snack if you ask for it, but if you’d prefer to take your own, opt for something low in salt (to avoid further dehydration) and high in water content (like fruit) with minimal mess and smell

Just remember, any liquids in your hand luggage are restricted to 100ml per item and need to be transported in a clear plastic bag.

If you need to take any other medication on the flight, it’s always a good idea to have your prescription with you. Some countries have banned substance lists, but as long as you have your doctor’s prescription and your meds are in their original packaging, you’ll be fine.

Beating in-flight boredom

The flight Down Under is long, but well, well worth it. You just need to know how to keep yourself entertained.

For the times you’re not eating or sleeping, there’s plenty on offer for you to watch, listen to or read. However, if the in-flight magazine isn’t your cup of tea and you think watching two films in a row is a little OTT, then certainly take your own reading material.

If you’d like something new to read, there’s always a huge selection of books and magazines available at the airport. Simply pick up something before you fly.

Playing games is also a fun way to pass the time if you have a travel partner. Some airlines provide a pack of cards, but there’s no harm in throwing some in your hand luggage, just in case. If you’re flying solo, a little puzzle book with crosswords and word searches is a good option to keep you occupied.

Writing can fill a fair bit of time too. If you’re thinking of keeping a travel journal while you’re away, start now. What’s the flight like? Are you enjoying the stopover? Are you excited? Write it all down. It’s all part of the experience, and your holiday starts as soon as you leave your house.

It’s also really interesting to read back over all the incredible experiences and special moments you had months, or even years, down the line. Plus, keeping a travel journal is a good way to share the highlights of your trip with loved ones when you get home... along with your hundreds of photos, of course.

Inside the Austravel team’s hand luggage

Need a little more inspiration? Here’s a quick look at what our Austravel Team pack before they take off...

“Wow, I’m not sure I can pick one thing. Eye mask, ear plugs, iPad with a gazillion films, face wipes, toothbrush. I have a bit of a ridiculous long-haul flight routine which has taken me years to perfect.” Katie, Destination Manager

“I always take layers – or a jumper and socks. The cabins can get quite chilly and there’s nothing worse than being cold on a long-haul flight when you’re trying to sleep.” Laura, Destination Executive

“I always make sure I have downloaded music for the flight. I find it helps me relax and gets me through a long flight – there are only so many movies you can sit and watch.” Chris, Commercial Executive

Toothbrushtoothpaste and face wipes – it’s great to be able to brush your teeth and freshen up as you travel across different time zones. I always wear a pair of jogging bottoms to stretch out and make yourself comfy.” Kelly, Destination Executive

“Comfortable noise-cancelling earphones – not only are they great for watching films/listening to music but you can also use them to block out the aircraft noise when it’s time to have a sleep.” Liz, Pricing Manager

“As a family with a three year old, our most important thing to pack for a flight is our portable DVD player and DVDs. I know most long-haul flights have children’s entertainment but if your child does not like what’s on offer – at least you’re prepared. Also it’s handy if the flight is delayed as you can watch the DVDs while you wait.” Tina, Inventory Manager

Overall, a long-haul flight really isn’t that bad if you’re well prepared.

Most airlines are extremely well equipped and the crew make every effort to ensure you have the best flying experience. Not to mention that you’ll likely get the chance to travel on an impressive Airbus A380 super jumbo or Boeing 777.

One smart thing to do is to check exactly what’s on offer from the airline prior to your departure. That way you’ll know if you need to pack any extras.

And finally just remember, the flight is just the beginning of the adventure.

So sit back, relax and enjoy.