The “Long Haul flight” is technically defined as any flight lasting between 6 to 12 hours, which to many can feel like an eternity. Let’s not even get started with the “Ultra Long Haul flights” that are even longer. Sitting on a plane surrounded by hundreds of fellow strangers/travelers, in a tiny seat with or without onboard entertainment and a possible seat kicker behind you and recliner in front of you for this long is not the most pleasant experience I have ever had. However I have taken many a long haul flight and have compiled some of the essential travel gear for long haul flights that you should take with you to keep yourself sane and to make it pass as quickly as possible.
Sleep masks are my number one item that I always have with me on long haul flights. You might feel like you would look silly wearing one but don’t worry about that as you will be one of the only people on the plane getting a decent sleep because of them. Whether you are flying in the daytime or at night or the passenger next to you is using their overhead reading light, with a sleep mask blocking out the sun and lights you won’t be disturbed.
If you wake up easily to noises then you must have earplugs to go along with your sleep mask because without a doubt there will always be a crying baby, chatty fliers and noisy food carts to easily wake you. With a good set of earplugs all of this should fade and away and you will wake up a much more rested and happy flier.
Kindle or e-reader
The in-flight magazine will only last you so long and you also don’t know what germs it might be crawling with. Play things safe and if you are a lover of books be sure to bring a kindle or e-reader and stock up on books before take off. Before you know it you will be caught up in a great read and you will be at your destination.
Laptop / iPad / Tablet
Not all flights have in-flight entertainment systems onboard and some airlines are even getting rid of them in exchange for streaming services and apps on your own devices so making sure you bring your own laptop, iPad or tablet is the best way to keep yourself occupied with movies, TV shows, music or games. Also some international airlines are now of course even offering in-flight wifi with services like Gogo so you can stay connected in the air and waste away the time on social media and the internet.
Pro Tip: If you are flying with Air Canada’s new budget airline Air Canada Rouge, make sure you download the Air Canada app before you board or for $10 you can borrow one of their iPad’s on board to use their in-flight entertainment service.
The most important thing that you want to do on a long haul flight is of course make yourself as comfortable as possible. Items that can help you achieve this are things like a nice pair of fuzzy warm socks, a good sweater, a change of clothes and you might even want to consider bringing an extra blanket or pillow. Quite often with long haul flights they will provide you with a blanket and pillow but the blankets tend to be thin and the pillows tiny. At the very least you will definitely want to have a good neck pillow to keep your head up and keep you from getting a kink in your neck while snoozing. (I prefer a neck pillow that blows up and then folds up to nothing for easy packing when I get off the flight.)
Hygiene products are definitely a good idea to have in your carry-on bag with you as well. Your toothpaste and toothbrush are the most important just make sure you brush your teeth with a bottle of water or at least a glass of water from the flight attendants instead of using the water from the taps onboard. To keep it simpler you could even just bring along a small bottle of mouthwash and to keep you really fresh it can’t hurt to bring along your deodorant as well.
Have you flown on many long haul flights? Did I miss anything on my list? What would you consider the essential travel gear and must-haves?