8 hand luggage essentials for long-haul flights that I couldn’t travel without

hand luggage essentials for long haul flights packing list

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Long-haul flights can really knock you for six sometimes. With most of your possessions tucked away in your backpack for the hold, it’s a good idea to have a proper think of your hand luggage essentials to make sure you have everything you are going to need on-board in the cabin with you.

To get your brain ticking, here are my plane cabin must-haves to add to your list (I’ll leave the quirkiest till last!).

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1. Something to keep you up & running

While lots of the newer planes are now able to offer USB charging plugs, it’s not always a guarantee. On long-haul flights, I’m usually either watching a Netflix series or furiously typing blog ideas into my phone, so my battery tends to venture dangerously close to the red.

Having a lightweight portable phone charger is one of those hand luggage essentials that I wish I’d have thought of sooner. Seriously, it took me about 4 months of travelling to decide it was something I might have a use for.

2. Something to take care of your skin

As someone who suffers with eczema (well controlled thanks to Dr Aron’s magical treatment plan!), I find the air circulation system of aeroplanes really affects my skin.

To combat the dryness, I use a light moisturiser that I can apply a few times during the flight without risking my pores getting clogged (what I did wrong to end up with both dry eczema-prone and oily acne-prone skin I’ll never know).

Nivea’s Soothing Day Cream works perfectly for me, not forgetting a protective lip balm too!

3. Something to keep you refreshed

Keeping hydrated during a long-haul flight is not only going to help keep your skin from drying out, but it also helps your body adjust to jetlag. Trolley water can sometimes be a little tepid, so my Chilly’s bottle makes its way into my hand luggage essentials because it keeps my water at the same refreshing temperature for up to 24 hours.

It’s nice to be able to top up water from the air stewards into a bottle rather than having to sit there with my tray out until I can finish my little plastic cup of water, too.

chilly's water bottle hand luggage essentials

4. Something to help you see

Sure, the aeroplane has overhead personal lights, but honestly I don’t like using them when the cabin is dark during a long-haul light as I’m always worried I’m annoying people. Therefore, I use a small booklight for when I want to read without peeing off everyone around me.

This one is pliable to get it right where you need it, and the amber light doesn’t disturb your eyes before trying to sleep.

5. Something to shut out the light

Linked to the above point, there is little more annoying than trying to get to sleep on a long-haul flight and realising the bloke in front of you is snoring for England with his in-seat TV still shining in all of its 100%-brightness glory.

I’m pretty bad at sleeping if I’m not in complete darkness, so my super-soft llama face mask has easily made its way into my hand luggage essentials list.

Guide to stay safe anHand luggage essentials for long haul flights eyes mask llamad comfortable on night buses in South America | Latin America travel guides by Cuppa to Copa Travels

6. Something to layer up

I am PERPETUALLY COLD, and this is a big problem on long-haul flights (seriously, airlines, why you do this?!).

I therefore pack my hand luggage essentials kit full of clothes that are light but layerable – things like basic strappy & sleeved tops, fluffy socks and a light cotton scarf. I’ve been known to sport gloves on board too 😉

7. Something to keep your hair in place

Ever spent the 9 hours of a long haul flight having your baby hairs tickle your face in the path of the air con? This is a major annoyance for me, so having a soft headband (these ones are beautiful!) that can keep them under wraps is a must for my hand luggage essentials.

Plus, if you want to skimp on the eye mask, you can tie this over your eyes as an improvised Bringer of Darkness, too.

Here’s my trusty headband hard at work, though obviously not on an aeroplane:

hand luggage essentials for long haul flights packing list

8. Something to make you feel like a super-smart travel-hacker

Kind of a weird one but bear with me here. I’m not a maaaassive fan of the stuff you tend to get on the entertainment systems on budget long-haul flights (and let’s be honest, I’m always going to be flying budget), so Netflix is my best friend on these journeys. It can be a bore to constantly hold your phone and strain your neck looking down though, so….

Start whatever Netflix show you want to watch on your phone and pop your handset into a sandwich bag (these ones are biodegradable!). Push a small hole through the top of the bag, just under the seal. Now, you know the little hook for the tray on the seat in front of you? Pop it through the bag’s hole, et voilà! Hands-free cinema!


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hand luggage essentials for long haul flights packing list

Last Updated on 8 January 2023 by Cuppa to Copa Travels

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