A woman putting her bag on the airplane compartment

What to Pack in Your Carry On For a Long Flight

These vary from person to person, what’s essential to me may not be to you. Look over this list of common long haul flight essential items and make sure you’re prepared on your next long flight. Many of these are items that you might keep in your backpack or have with you everyday anyway. I’ve found them to be very useful when traveling and they seem to make long flights much more tolerable.

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Things to Pack in a Carry On for a Long Flight

Here are some items that help pass the time comfortably without breaking the bank or adding too much weight, and are useful in general while traveling or in daily life. Be sure to see our tips for packing a carry on too.

1. 1L Nalgene water bottle

Flying can cause dehydration fairly quickly, and the tiny cups they give you don’t help matters much on long flights. Order one on Amazon and bring it to the airport empty, fill up after you get through security.

You’ll have to pee more during the flight, but it’s good to pee a lot. It keeps you healthy and is an incentive for you to walk around, you need to keep your blood flowing. You need to be getting up and stretching your legs anyways and if you are sitting in the aisle seat then you won’t have to ask some sleeping lady to get up so you can relieve yourself.

2. A comfortable pillow

A man using a travel pillow while sleeping on his flight

You can opt for your standard neck pillow that goes around your neck and keeps your head from flopping around as you try to sleep. Or, get something like a compressible camping pillow.

Throw it behind your back to make the seat a little more comfortable, or use it as a pillow against the window. Some people can’t sleep sitting up anyways in which case this type of pillow might work best. Clip or attach it to your backpack or personal item to save space.

3. Comfortable headphones

Grab a pair on Amazon that are comfy enough to wear for the whole flight if you are trying to zone and get some peace and quiet.

A good pair of noise cancelling headphones are very nice, and I highly recommend them, but consider comfort first. There might be people snoring, kids crying, attendants make announcements, and engine noise. You want to be sure to get at least some uninterrupted sleep if possible.

4. External battery pack

This one from Anker is 26800mAh and has 3 charging ports so you can charge your phone, your iPad, and your laptop all at the same time. Some have a little flashlight built in. Many airlines have outlets on seat-backs or under seats now, but not all.

These things are pretty inexpensive everywhere and you will find yourself using them all the time, not just on flights. They will keep your phone or device playing movies or music for the whole flight, without worry of charging. Sometimes it’s nice to listen to a movie, TV show, or audiobook while leaning back with your eyes closed. Anything that can help you fall asleep is great.

5. Jacket or hoodie

Even if you are flying to and from warm places, it can get cold on the plane, and they don’t usually have any blankets anymore.

6. Eye mask

Close up view of a man wearing a sleep mask while sleeping

In addition to your noise cancelling headphones you can pretty much block out everything, great for helping you get to sleep on a long flight.

7. Wisp toothbrush

Keep your mouth feeling clean and your breath fresh.

8. Pepto Bismol tablets

The last thing you want is to have diarrhea on an airplane… at 30k feet in the air. Knowing someone might be waiting for you outside the restroom, don’t chance it and pack some.

9. Lip Balm

Chapped lips or a dry mouth is uncomfortable and often happen on flights where the air is very dry.

10. Gum

Gum is known to help with the whole ear popping thing that many people experience when flying. I remember that when I was younger but it never happens to me anymore.

11. Headphone splitter

So you can watch a movie together with whomever you’re traveling with, a headphone splitter is helpful. Yes, you can always use bluetooth on a plane. But it probably won’t connect to the plane’s entertainment system. So don’t rely on bluetooth headphones only and bring some 3.5mm earbuds and a splitter.

If your flight has TVs on the backs of the seats then you’ll need some. Many times they provide these for you in the seat pocket but on my last flight they did not so I was stuck watching the real time flight map the whole time.

12. Pashmina scarf

On the plane you can use one as a blanket or as a pillow. Off of the plane you can use it as a scarf, some women even use them as skirts. Be creative and use it to wrap any breakables you buy on your trip so they safely make it back in one piece.

13. Slippers

It’s kind of gross to just take off your shoes and walk around on a plane, even though people do it. Instead bring some comfortable slippers, some like these would work perfect!


That’s it for this guide to what to pack in your carry on for a long flight. Have a safe flight!