Five essential things to take on longer flights

In a reverse Game of Thrones statement, I declare that “summer is coming!” Vacations will abound, and possibly long flights too. For those of you who won’t be able to avoid long flights this summer travel season, consider a few things in advance to prepare for a long flight. It will ensure your enjoyment and comfort. Trust me, a little bit of preparation will go a long way in helping you stay even-keeled and calm on longer flights. We’ve put together a list of five things that you should definitely take with you for the next long flight.

Flying these days can be a trial of endurance and patience. Besides the clamor of the security line, there might be layovers and delays to deal with. If you’re flying over to Europe or Asia from a US point of departure a flight can last anywhere from 6 to 16 hours, depending on location and destination. That’s a lot of time to be cooped up in an airborne steel tube.

Spending all that time in recycled and stale air has an impact on how we feel. It’s not uncommon to experience fatigue or dehydration – there’s nothing worse than a dry mouth in need of a good tooth brushing. The food served is often less than par, or there’s an overly priced a la carte menu that you refuse to pay and you end up hungry. Sitting in those cramped seats for ten hours will bring out the fidgety side in a way you never knew existed. A mixed bag of emotions that can lead to an aggravating flying experience.

It’s best to realize the stressors in advance and head them off with preparation. Before I get on a plane, I make sure I have lots of healthy snacks in my bag like hardboiled eggs, nuts, fruit, and protein bars. I also carry a collapsible water bottle to fill once through airport security. I’ll jump on to the WiFi to download a movie or episodes from a favorite series. It’s also important to carry essentials like quality earplugs, a good eye mask, and hand wipes – making you pretty much impervious to any noisy seat neighbors or any other potential issues while in flight.


A good pen is a small and unassuming essential to carry. In this way, if any of your peripherals should run out of battery or you’ve finished that entire series you downloaded in advance, there will be a backup: I know that when I read, I like to jot down notes. Working through a sudoku or crossword puzzle can help switch things up and pass the time, in addition to being good for your mind.. Sometimes flying for such long hours can be mind-numbing. I’ve stopped carrying ink pens that have a tendency to erupt in a pressurized cabin and now opt for an ‘airplane-safe’ ball point pen that preferably retractable and writes fluidly. Even cheaper pens from Bic or a gel pen like a Pilot G2 will do the trick. And if you lose in on your travels you won’t be heartbroken.

Lip balm

In order to ensure that you don’t look like a shriveled prune upon deplaning the aircraft, there are certain things you can do: try to avoid coffee and drink a lot of water and tea instead. Eating fruit is another way to stay hydrated. Sometimes as a passenger you get lucky with a nice side of mixed fruit on your meal tray. So much of the airplane food has high levels of salt content, presumably for better preservation and taste. However, do yourself a favor and put a good lip balm in your pocket. In addition to the tips above, your mouth will be foolproof if it comes time to strike up a conversation with the stranger next to you. I recommend any natural lip balm with a base of olive oil or shea butter. Castor and jojoba oils are also very nice and soothing to the lips. My skin is sensitive and I often use Eco Lips balms which do a great job at keeping my lips hydrated and protected.


If you can afford earbuds that are noise-cancelling than good for you. They’re a great investment and full proof way to ensure moments of silence that you need to destress during a flight. In fact I was on a flight yesterday sitting next to a young couple that talked loudly during the entire four hour flight and thank goodness I had a pair with me. That being said, you can’t go wrong with a very inexpensive, but good brand, that you can buy at any drug store. I recommend Hearos Xtreme ear plugs which are made from a comfortable soft foam and have a high NRR rating of 32. The beauty is that a box of fourteen pair sells for under 10$ and should last you quite a while.

Eye mask

In theory, a long plane ride is the perfect opportunity to get loads of work completed. But the reality is there’s just something about sitting in that seat and a long ride that makes you want to close your eyes. Perhaps it’s a throwback to the days of riding in the backseat of a car as kids with our parents driving. Whatever the reasons are, packing a comfortable eye mask that contours around the eyes to keep out light will help you achieve ‘zzz’ status on your next flight. This way, passengers with window seats who control the window shades can’t affect your next nap during flight. Consider one like the Bucky 40 Blinks Contoured Sleep mask that is sold for around $10.

Toiletry bag

There’s a reason why first class passengers are given complimentary toiletry bags. It’s in order to ensure that they have the small details we discuss in this article. So if you happen to be flying in coach, well then, it’s best to make like a first class passenger and bring along a toiletry bag. Inside, stash a small hand cream, toothbrush, toothpaste, dry shampoo, contact lens case and solution, and deodorant. It’s best if the toiletry bag is small and attractive, yet inconspicuous enough not to call attention to it when carrying to the lavatory. Everything is kept neatly in one place. Remember that if your favorite toiletries don’t come in TSA approved bottle sizes, then find travel friendly refillable bottles. Sea to Summit makes a nice small one that you can also hang in the bathroom once you’ve arrived at your destination.