Long Haul Carry-on Essentials
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Hey guys, I’m back from an amazing trip to the mountain town of Benahavis in Southern Spain. More about the trip later, but the unpacking process this last day or so (the worst part of any trip, right?!) got me thinking about some of the travel essentials which have become second nature to me now.
While we were living in Dubai, travelling to far away places became much more accessible and affordable, especially when you make the most of multi-trips. So flying long haul became much more common, and even just a ‘quick trip home’ cost us a minimum of 7 hours in the air. A trip to New York direct from Dubai, was a whopping 14 hours all in one go, and our journey back from Singapore to the UK after our honeymoon, took two flights both at 7 hours each! That’s a killer!
So you could say I’ve had a few practice run’s at getting my carry-on baggage right! And honestly, it’s second nature to me now. Everyone has their own routine’s and travel habits, but I thought I’d share mine with you, in the hope that it makes that next long haul flight a little less painful for you! Let’s get into it.
If you’re flying with some of the larger airlines, or on planes such as the A380, you’ll probably find there’s a power outlet in the seat infront of you, or at least in your neighbours seat. So the obvious one there is, pack a charger.
Bear in mind the Countries you’re flying to and from. If the airline is based in your home country, then the outlet is likely to be the same as your normal plug from home. But if you’re travelling through multiple Countries, or flying with an airline based elsewhere in the World, they could be different. Often they get around this with a USB port instead. So my advice would be to make sure your charger is detachable from your USB cable (like an iPhone charger is) and you’re good.
However, if you’re flying with a smaller or budget airline, there’s a good chance they wont have any way of charging your devices. And even if there is one in the airport lounge, they’re usually crowded and nowhere near your seat.
That’s why my number one carry-on essential is a portable charger. I bought this one from Anker a couple of years ago, and it has been a life saver. It has two USB ports so I can charge my phone and iPad or Kindle at the same time, and fits easily into my bag. Also, a side bonus, the charger for it is the same one as my Kindle charger, so that’s one less thing to carry around! It’s also great for every day use, and I often carry it around in my bag even when I’m not travelling.
I bought the larger 20100mAh capacity one, and the official line is that it will charge an iPhone six times. I’ve never actually tested that solely on a phone, but on this latest trip it easily gave enough charge for two iPhones, two iPads (even after hours of watching Netflix), my Kindle, and plenty to spare.
We also recently bought the smaller 13000mAh capacity power bank for my mother-in-law, who is never without her Kindle in her hand. She keeps the charger in her bag and charges it while she’s on the move. This one gets you slightly less use, closer to 5 iPhone charges, but also is a bit lighter and half the size if you’re short on space.
I feel like this one is fairly obvious, especially given the previous point! But make sure you don’t forget to pack your electronics. Depending on what you have, phones, iPads, Kindles, portable games consoles etc, all provide a great way to pass away the hours, so make sure to add them to your packing list, along with any specific charging cables. And obviously download any books or apps you might want before you leave home. I also pack my camera in my carry-on to make sure it doesn't get damaged.
On the same vein, planning ahead for some inflight entertainment is always wise. Most airlines have built in tv screens in the back of the seats these days, and there are some really good entertainment systems out there now too. However, not all do. Believe it or not, neither plane on our trip from Calgary to Spain had tv screens!
I also can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been stuck on a long haul flight where the screen has been broken! Eventually it might get reset and fixed half way through the flight, but not always, so best to be prepared just incase.
My way around that is to download my favourite shows on Netflix onto my iPad in advance. I can still use it in flight mode during the journey, and even if the screen is broken or none existent, I’m covered!
Again, this really depends which airline you’re flying with. Some give you a set of headphones for free, some charge you, and some don’t even have them. Even if they are provided, they’re usually cheap and not the best sound quality. So the easy solution is to just take your own.
I have no doubt that there will be plenty of people reading this who have much better quality headphones than me! Some of the noise cancelling ones out there would be amazing for a long haul flight, so if you have them, definitely pack them! But I get by with just my standard Apple ones, and I like that they’re small and weigh next to nothing.
I also have a pair of reusable ear plugs which I use when I’m sleeping (or just when there’s a screaming kid nearby)! They’re never going to be as good as noise cancelling ones, but these do a good job of blocking out a lot of the noise, and more importantly they’re comfy to sleep in. Some airlines will also give you some ear plugs for a long haul flight, but I’ve found they’re nowhere near as effective or comfortable as these ones.
5. Eye Mask
By far the easiest way to pass the time on a long haul flight is to try to get a few hours kip! An eye mask is another of my essentials to help with that. The ones with the nose bridge detail are most comfortable and help to block out more light.
6. Inflatable Pillow
This is easily my favourite travel accessory! An inflatable pillow you can hug!
There are lots of different inflatable pillows out there, but this one is by far the best I’ve found. It has holes so that you can cross your arms inside it, rest your face inside it while still breathing normally, slot it over one arm, or even use it on it’s side if you’re lucky enough to get a spare seat beside you to lie down.
It blows up in about 5 or 6 breaths, and has one of those vents that stops the air escaping unless you press it in. But equally it’s quick to put down at the end of your journey too. You can also easily machine wash it when you get home to get rid of all those plane germs!
Another bonus, because it comes in it’s own little bag, I often tie the bag on to the outside of my carry-on bag if I’m short of space inside, and don’t hold me to it, but so far I’ve had no issues with that!
(Note, if you buy from the link it comes with a free eye mask and ear plugs, these are not the type that I would recommend. The link is the recommendation for the pillow only.)
7. Spare Top and Underwear
The number of times you hear of luggage going missing, or being delayed at destination scares me crazy. That’s why I always make sure I have a change of underwear, socks, and as a minimum a spare top in my carry-on bag. That way if my suitcase does go missing, I know I can still freshen up at the other end of my journey.
I also like to pack an extra spare pair of socks, so that I can take my shoes off during the journey, but not have to worry about germs from the plane. I usually put them on at the start of the flight over my existing socks so I’m wearing 2 pairs, (no-one should have bare feet at any point on a flight!) and then just take the top layer off at the end, folding them inside out when I put them in my bag. (Side note - Always put your shoes back on when you go to the bathroom, I dread to even think what the floors are like in there, and the number of people who don’t bother is horrific!)
If you have a long haul flight coming up, trust me when I say you need to pack a toothbrush and toothpaste! Or at the very minimum, some very minty chewing gum! There is nothing worse than being sat next to someone on their second flight of the day, who’s been drifting in and out of sleep, not drinking enough water, and who hasn’t brushed their teeth since they left home many many hours ago! For everyone’s sake, please brush your teeth between flights!
I also like to pack minimal make-up, a small deodorant stick, hair tie, and some hand sanitizer. I often don’t bother with the make-up, but I do like to have it incase my suitcase goes missing, or if I’m meeting friends or family at the end of my journey. Some make-up brands such as Bobbi Brown, and also Sephora, are great for giving away free mini samples with orders, so I always save these for my travel bag.
I always try to take my sunglasses away with me, even if I'm not travelling to somewhere sunny, you never know when you might need them. Putting them in my carry-on bag means they're there when I need them, and they are less likely to get squashed than in my case.
I never wear any jewellery to fly in, except my wedding ring and engagement ring, mainly because they're so well stuck I'd never get them off! It helps getting through security checks quicker if you don't have to mess around taking off jewellery and then putting it back on again. But I also don't like the idea of packing them in my case, so I always carry a little pouch with them in my hand luggage instead.
This one really depends where I'm travelling to and from, but if the temperature is going to be significantly colder or warmer when I arrive, I like to have a spare pair of shoes with me to change into. Particularly this most recent trip, I left snow and 3 degrees in Calgary wearing my boots, and landed to sunshine and 25 degrees in Spain, so I was really glad to have a pair of flip flops in my bag to change into!
12. Water bottle
I don’t recommend that you buy a water bottle in advance, because even when it’s empty, I’ve had times where I’ve been told to throw it away at security. But once you’re through, buy a large bottle of water to keep you hydrated, and make sure to refill it from the water fountain before you get on the plane.
Finally, and I’m sure this goes without saying, pack your travel documents and some money! Passports, boarding passes, hotel details, transfer details, driving licence if you’re hiring a car, and visas or residency cards.
So there we have it! That's my long haul carry-on essentials. Are there any that you think I've missed? I'd love to hear your top essentials in the comments below.
Have a great trip!
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HEADER PHOTO BY ANETE LUSINA