15 Essential Carry-on Luggage Packing Tips for Surviving Long Flights
Air Travel Airlines Airports Featured Packing Tips Products

15 Essential Carry-on Luggage Packing Tips for Surviving Long Flights

Carry-on Luggage Packing Tips

Packing carry-on luggage for a long flight can be a tough task. You want to pack light, but you don’t want to be mid-8-hour flight wishing you brought something. Here are 15 Carry-on Luggage Packing Tips you need to survive a long flight.

1.     Reusable water bottle

The main reason people get sick on long flights is dehydration. Not only does it make you more susceptible to jet-lag, but it dries out your skin and mucous membranes, weakening your immune system. A collapsible water bottle is the perfect travel solution. It won’t take up much space in your carry-on luggage, you won’t have to purchase overpriced bottled water at the airport, and, most importantly, you’ll stay hydrated throughout your long flight. Remember to fill it up after you go through airport security, though.

2. Headphones

Whether you’re watching an entire season of a TV show or trying to sleep, comfortable, noise-cancelling headphones are crucial for a long flight. Don’t rely on the free ones given on planes–they generally aren’t comfortable to wear for a long time. Senior editor of SmarterTravel.com, Christine Sarkis, recommends SleepPhones as the best for comfort and sleep. Use music apps like Spotify Premium that allow access to your music offline to make playlists ahead of time.

3. Snacks

Food determines your body’s response to long journeys. Pack high-protein, low-carb snacks such as nuts, cheese and crackers and fruits and avoid these eight foods to ensure you feel your best upon arrival. Gum is always great to pack in your carry-on luggage on a long flight too–it helps equalize your ears and freshens your breath after snacking.

4. Mini toiletries

Our 4th item in our packing tips is mini toiletries. As we mentioned, long flights dehydrate you–inside and out. Keep skin moisturized with Evian Mist SprayPapaw Ointment, and shea butter cream. Stay fresh and clean with dry shampoo, a disposable toothbrush, deodorant and hand sanitizer. Stay healthy and comfortable with pain reliever tablets and antihistamines, plus pack your prescriptions in your carry on as well.

5. Compression gear

Find a good pair of compression leggings and socks to promote good circulation and aid your body in adjusting to the pressure changes on long flights is our 5th packing tip. SmarterTravel.com Senior Editor Caroline Morse suggests TravelSox’s graduated compression socks. Comfortable shoes that are easy to take on and off, such as sneakers or slip-on flats are equally important.

6. Scarf that can also be a blanket

Pillows and blankets on airplanes are questionable at best in terms of cleanliness. Avoid the germs by wearing a scarf that you can also use as a blanket such as Lululemon’s Vinyasa Scarf in Rulu or cotton fabric.

7. Sleep Aid

Sleeping on an airplane is not ideal for anyone. Pack a natural sleep aid in your carry-on luggage to help you relax, such as melatonin pills or spray, Yogi Bedtime Tea bags or Natural Vitality Natural Calm.

8. Books or magazines

While it’s great that we’re able to watch TV shows and movies and read electronically, it’s smart to bring an old-fashioned paperback book or magazine on a long flight. It’ll come in handy during takeoff and landing, if your electronics die, or if you want a break from the screen. Be sure to pack these in your carry-on luggage ahead of time, as these tend to be more expensive at the airport (like most things).

9. Back-up entertainment

If you’ve never had a faulty inflight entertainment system at your seat, you’re lucky. Bring a laptop, ipad, tablet or reader for scenarios like this. Store movies and TV shows on a small external hard drive to watch on your laptop or pre-download them using Amazon Prime, iTunes or other similar services. Be sure to fully charge all electronics the night before and don’t turn on until you need them in order to preserve the battery.

10. Jet-lag remedy

A jet-lag can seriously ruin the beginning of your trip. Purchase something like these No-Jet-Lag pills to normalize your internal clock and ease body stress after a long flight.

11. Wipes

Airplanes are extremely dirty. Pack sanitizing wipes in your carry-on luggage to clean your area before touching anything. Wipes are also a great alternative to liquids toiletries–they save space and can’t spill. La Fresh Travel Wipes Line has a variety of useful wipes including nail polish remover, face cleanser, bug spray and more. Be sure to check before your flight to make sure any wipes you’ll be using don’t have a pungent smell that could bother fellow travelers.

12. Eye mask

As we discussed, it’s difficult to sleep on a plane, especially for the duration of a long flight. Prevent jet-lag and promote relaxation with a comfortable eye mask such as Dream Shields Sleeping Eye Mask Kit. As a bonus, it comes with earplugs, in case you ignore our advice about noise-cancelling headphones.

13. Neck or travel pillow

It’s next to impossible to sleep on a plane without some sort of pillow. Sarkis recommends the J Pillow-it’s comfort outweighs its’ bulkiness in your carry-on luggage. If you don’t have space in your bag for this, consider an inflatable pillow or a neck pillow that snaps around your bag’s strap.

14. Backup power charger

It’s smart to bring a small portable charger for your electronics because most will die on a long flight, even if they’re fully charged to begin with. You don’t want to arrive in a foreign place without any way of navigating or reaching anyone.

15. Perfect size under-seat bag

Don’t do yourself a disservice by bringing a bulky bag that infringes on your already limited legroom. The High Altitude Flight Bag fits a laptop and has easy access but is thin and can even attach to your tray table. Cocoon backpacks also have plenty of suitable choices that fit sideways under your seat.

Did you find this article helpful? Visit SmarterTravel.com for more information. You might also like:

10 Pro Tips for Surviving a Long Flight

How To Survive a Red-Eye Flight

10 Things to Pack That Will Save You Money

Suggestions for You

4 Long-Distance Travel Tips for Summer 2018

Benefits of Vacation Time – Use Up Your Vacation Days

Top 5 Summer Packing Tips

3 Ways to Make Long-Distance Traveling More Comfortable

CLEAR – Reduce Airport Security Wait Time


  1. JM

    Point 3: Brings snacks is OK on long flights but most airlines supply them. Over 6 hrs and your are probably overfed anyway.

    Point 12. Eye mask is an excellent idea. Never fly without noise cancelling headphones. Use BOTH ear plugs and NC Headphones together to make sleep VERY quiet. Plus NC headphones are SO MUCH BETTER than the airline furnished ones.

    January 25, 2016
  2. JM

    Bring a 1 AAA LED flashlight. Make it a permanent part of your airplane kit. Enormously useful when the cabin lights dim or are turned off.

    January 25, 2016


Travel Tips | Travel Advice from Travel Experts

Travel Tips

Travel Tips from Travel Experts. The best restaurants, destinations, events and advice available. Avoid the pitfalls of travel by becoming a travel expert. 1000TravelTips.com is the world’s number 1 source for the latest travel tips, skills and actionable advice that can be used anywhere, at any time. Hear from the top name travel experts that you can’t find anywhere else: Samantha Brown, Rick Steves, Peter Greenberg, Pauline Frommer, Patricia Schultz and more. Sign up for our newsletter to receive the top travel tips straight to your inbox!