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Our long-haul flight essentials (+ free checklist)

long-haul flight essentials - checklist

You’re probably often wondering what are the long-haul flight essentials. This is a bit of struggle also for us. Recently, we had to pack our stuff for the flight to New Zealand. In total, 36 hours of travel including 24 in the air! We already knew which mistakes to avoid when traveling by plane. But we had to carefully think about our carry-on luggage to make our journey comfortable. And not to look like zombies after landing in Auckland… What to take with you on board, if you have a really long flight? Check our long-haul flight essentials!



Documents are pretty obvious, not only as long-haul flight essentials but also for shorter ones. I always take all our documents with us in carry-on bags. I’m not talking about obvious things as passport and, documents needed to cross the border. But I am a little old-fashioned and I like to have printed such things as:

  • our itinerary, which we do in Excel with the estimated budget
  • confirmation of booking of different means of transport,
  • confirmation of hotel bookings,
  • confirmation of the car rental booking,
  • a copy of the travel insurance, etc.

Of course, I have it all on my smartphone as well… but it can always mysteriously disappear when needed or run out of battery. I’d rather have the old-school back-up!

long-haul flight essentials - passport


I strongly recommend to remove it from your checked-in baggage. Not because they are long-haul flight essentials, but… my dad’s suitcase got lost forever. You don’t want to lose those earrings that are in your family for ages, do you?


We always have some cash in our wallets. Although paying by car all over the world is nothing unusual these days, however sometimes you may find that… your cards are not accepted. I’m not talking about extreme cases, such as Iran. Examples? In Germany, while shopping in stores like Lidl or Aldi you may pay only with EC-Karte issued by some German bank. In China, I couldn’t withdraw anything, because I used Maestro instead of more popular VISA. Similarly, in the US – German debit cards are useless. There is a 90% chance that you won’t be able to pay in stores or withdraw from ATMs. Credit cards are a must in the US. On the other hand, in one of the most popular cafes in San Francisco… they accept only cash.


First of all, may get lost if you put them in check in bags. Secondly, they are a great source of entertainment during the flight. I must admit that since I saw that you can read a book on iPhone, I leave kindle and paper books at home. There is a lot of applications that offer a wide selection of books. Best of it? You don’t have to remember about another gadget/carry extra kilos.

The camera, lenses, and tripod also fly with us in the carry-on baggage (Michal would never let them travel the world without his supervision! ;-).


Nowadays, I care very much about adequate hydration during the flight and water bottle is one of my long-haul flight essentials. In past, after several hours in the air, my skin got incredibly dry… I scratched and scratched. Flight attendants have to serve hundreds of people and I don’t want to bother them every 30 minutes to fill my cup. My solution? Light plastic bottle in your hand luggage, which I fill in the airport after security checks. This additional liter really makes a difference 🙂


To be honest, decent headphones are my no 1 when it comes to long-haul flight essentials. Unfortunately, these provided by airplanes have very poor quality – when you watch the movie you can’t even hear dialogues… I have been wondering for ages whether to invest in some decent headphones. Headphones which would cancel noises, have a perfect sound and are comfortable to wear. I instantly rejected all earphones as my ears start to hurt so much while I wear them (for the same reason I don’t use earplugs). I decided on Bose. I bought them by chance – I tried them on in one shop at the Munich airport and instantly fell in love. That was it. Nothing hurts me and the sound quality is simply excellent. I love them and they are worth every euro spent – I tested probably about 40 types before and nothing compared to Bose. 

long-haul flight essentials - headphones


If your flight takes a long time, you can be sure that you will get a blanket and pillow. However, you may wish to pack your more fluffy or favorite one. We like inflatable ones – small and easy to pack.


Once I used colorful one from H&M, but unfortunately, it was of poor quality – it wasn’t fit properly, and the light was shining through the fabric. I’m currently using the one with an adjustable strap, black from the inside and very well adhering to the face. I fell in love with this since I first wore it and now it’s one of my favorite long-haul flight essentials. I wish there were some pink ones 😉

long-haul flight essentials - eye patch


I am a big fan of scarves, especially those made from natural fabrics. Michal always laughs that I buy another “sheet”. However, a wool-cashmere scarf is a perfect “lining”, when the air in the plane reaches arctic temperatures… I also like to use it as a blanket while sleeping.


I have a favorite, big, thick slippers which always land in my hand luggage… Sitting 12h with your shoes on is a big NO. If you have problems with blood circulation, your legs are swelling or you have an increased risk of thrombosis, compression socks are a must.


I use primarily iPhone when it comes to reading. Sometimes I buy the newspaper, which I can easily get rid of and don’t need to carry with me for the entire trip. However, if you prefer Kindle or traditional books, remember to pack them in hand luggage – movies on board eventually get boring 🙂


A pen – needed to fill eg. visa applications or customs clearance. I always carry my notebook everywhere, so it also lands in my hand luggage. I never know when I get the idea for the next post! 


Maybe not on the top of the long-haul flight essentials list, but… Food on board is often not good and first of all, it’s usually not very healthy. We don’t leave our home without little snacks – fruit (but no bananas, they smash easily), peeled carrots, unsalted nuts, power balls. Perfect snacks for watching movies!

long-haul flight essentials - cosmetics


Tip for everyone: we usually don’t buy mini cosmetics – we use samples that we got all or pour everything into special tiny bottles. You can get them at a drugstore or… just use the containers of previously used samples! It’s more friendly to your wallet and environment.

Which cosmetics do we take on board? Our long-haul flight essentials in a cosmetic bag:

  • mini face cream 
  • deodorant
  • mini body lotion or hand cream 
  • toothbrush and small toothpaste
  • lavender oil/roll-on (lavender scent helps to relax and fall asleep)
  • contact lenses box + liquid 
  • dry shampoo (let’s be honest, hair doesn’t look like after real washing, but it gives me a peace of mind, that I don’t look like I’ve just completed a one-year exploration of the Amazonian forest)
  • lip balm to chapped lips (vanilla coconut EOS is my winner)
  • hairbrush 
  • sanitizer for hands (use carefully, anything with alcohol may make your skin dry…)
  • wet wipes 
  • drugs, if we take any (painkillers are a must)
  • chewing gum
  • handkerchiefs (tip for girls: take on a layer of a tissue and put on your face… excess sebum disappears)

Tip for girls: After 12 h flight, regardless of how much fluid you applied, you will still look exhausted – sad but true… In my case, there are only 2 cosmetics that may help a bit – bright eye pencil on the waterline of the eye plus illuminating concealer under the eyes. Sometimes, instead of a face cream, I take BB cream with a primer. Otherwise, I look like I have just escaped from the set of “Walking Dead”. Once the customs officer at the airport in Amsterdam couldn’t believe that I am the same person as on the passport photo… Oops.

long-haul flight essentials - eos lipbalm


Because there is nothing better for tired eyes than hiding after landing behind big sunglasses… and you look like a Hollywood star 😉


After several hours, you can feel “a little” uncomfortable in the same underwear… Extra underpants, T-shirts, and socks also go in our hand luggage.


For these tenacious ones, who have made it to the end – a little surprise. Our long-haul flight essentials checklist in PDF format. Print it and relax while packing!

Looking for more tips? Find more on how to survive a long-haul flight.

long-haul flight essentials - bag and a hat

What do other long haul flight essentials you find necessary?

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Our best packing tips along with free printable list of things to pack in your carry-on bag! Check our long haul flight essentials.


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