6 Most Essential Things To Pack For Your Next Long Flight

I could write a book on mastering long-haul flights, mostly because I’ve made so many mistakes in the past — and we obviously learn from our mistakes. Now, after flying over a million air miles over the past 15 years, I can tell you the 6 must-have essentials you need to pack for your next long flight.

After taking hundreds of international and overnight flights, I now know the best seat to reserve, what time to sleep to avoid jet lag, what food to avoid and what amenities to expect onboard. I also know how to expertly pack my carry-on.

Delta One on 757-200
Me flying during pandemic.

Packing is crucial when it comes to long-haul, overnight flights. There are items travelers will always take only to never use them and things they never bring only to regret it later. To ensure you have a seamless on-board experience, definitely stash these 6 things in your carry-on. These items have allowed me to have a quiet, stress-free and restful sleep or comfort on long flights.

6 Must-Have Essentials You Should Pack For Your Long Flight 

1. Pajamas.

Qatar Airways Q Suite Flight Attendant
Qatar Airways Q Suite Flight Attendant giving PJs!

Call me fancy, but I am not going to sleep in my pants and shirt I wore to the airport, only to wear them the next day through customs and a commute to the hotel. I like to arrive tidy!

I always pack a T-shirt and gym shorts in my carry-on, which I’ll change into when the overhead lights dim, then sleep as I do at home.

I’m surprised when I see business travelers sleep in their dress shirts and slacks, then wear the same thing straight to the hotel. Trust me: you will feel so much better if you sleep in pajamas. It’s a total psychological thing.

Luckily, many airlines provide pajamas in business class if you’re so privileged! Sometimes, you just have to ask for them. I love Qatar Airways pajamas btw. It’s great that the airline provides them, but you can’t always assume, so definitely back your own wear.

2. Downloaded movies on your laptop.

It’s standard that most long-haul flights provide seat-back entertainment, which definitely comes in handy on your flight back to the US where you’ll likely be awake the majority of the flight.

 Unfortunately, not all in-flight entertainment is created equal. Some airlines have not great options, like straight to iTunes flicks and outdated TV shows you’ve already seen. Worst of all? Some airlines edit the movies! I talk about this in length here.

It’s always a good idea to have movies and TV shows downloaded on your computer so you don’t have to worry about being stuck with terrible entertainment. I wrote a list of the best TV shows to binge watch on your next flight.

Great movie options here, but some times they can be terrible!

Great movie options here, but some times they can be terrible!

3. USB cord. 

How many times have you left the house forgetting your phone charger? Know how to fix this problem? Always leave a spare USB cord in your carry-on.

Most planes will have USB outlets at every seat, so the cord is a good thing to have for a fully powered up cell phone when you land. It’s always annoying for me when I get to my destination, then have to charge up a dead phone and wait a while before calling an Uber. Now, it’s no longer an issue! It’s why it’s one of the must-have essentials you must pack for your next long flight.

Always bring your phone's USB cord.

Always bring your phone’s USB cord.

4. Safe sleeping aid.

I don’t care if it’s herbal, Ambien, Tylenol PM or a Xanax, you will be grateful to have packed a sleeping aid on your long-haul flight. It’s not easy sleeping upright in coach and, while designed with lie-flat beds, business-class seats are not crazy comfortable all the time. They can be narrow, too short, too hot, too cold… so you definitely want to make sure that you take something to help you sleep rather than stress about any discomfort.

If I don’t take a safe sleeping aid, I’m always waking up in the middle of my sleep due to discomfort. Unless you’ve completely mastered sleeping restfully on a plane, you’ll want to knock out with a sleeping pill. It’s super important if you’re crossing different time zones to be in a good state when you land!

Ambien you should pack for a long flight.

Bring Ambien if you want to sleep.

5. Pen (if you’re flying overseas and international)

Hold back the eyerolls! Things have changed. There was a time flight attendants passed out customs forms a little too late, and I didn’t have a pen. In business class, I was one of the first off the plane, but I had to go to that little customs-form booth, somehow find a pen then fill out my paperwork while literally everyone on the plane went through customs before me.

Always have a pen handy. Trust me. You’ll realize this is one of the most essential things you need to pack for your next long flight – international, that is.

You can’t rely on other people for pens! Some airlines provide pens in the business-class amenity kits, but you never really know which airline so don’t take that gamble.

This is the only time a pen will come in handy.

This is the only time a pen will come in handy.

Rakuten Rewards

6. Deodorant

I always pack my deodorant in my carry-on, not my toiletry kit packed in my luggage. I’ve had long layovers and sometimes have had to go straight to meetings from a flight. You will be so glad you did this.

I *love* Tom’s. It’s all natural, so none of that weird chalky stuff. It is definitely a must-have essential you should pack for a long flight.

Do you have any tips on the most essential items to pack for a long flight? Let us know in the comments below.

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Jimmy Im has traveled to 113 countries, stayed at over 600 hotels and clocked millions of air miles. He currently lives in New York City.

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