carry on long haul flight
Flickr: Lisa

When you hate long haul flights as much as I do, it’s essential to be prepared. I use this handy checklist any time I’m packing a carry-on for a long trip.

When I make my semi-regular trips to Asia, I usually bring two carry-on bags. One is a comfortable, small backpack and the other is a medium-sized bag with wheels. I put the backpack under the seat for anything I need to keep close and the rolling bag goes in the overhead. In that one, I make sure to bring a change of clothes and anything else I don’t need in arm’s reach.

For my most recent trip to Vietnam, I used a brand new backpack and I fell in love with it. It’s Carrie Underwood’s brand, CALIA. It’s a small, chic looking bag with the perfect amount of storage. I used the side pockets for water and my glasses case. The bag cleaned easily and the straps were super comfy for walking through (too many) airports.

Hand Sanitizer + Antibacterial Wipes

Germs are everywhere on an airplane and at airports — and I do mean everywhere. I always travel with travel-size hand sanitizer that I use when I can’t get up to wash my hands (especially before eating anything on the plane). I also bring a package of Wet Ones antibacterial wipes to wipe down the food tray, TV screen and armrests.

Collapsible Water Bottle

Staying hydrated while traveling is so important so I always bring a collapsible travel water bottle on planes. Staying hydrated helps your skin and immune system. I like this black one or this pretty pink one.

Travel Moisturizer

It’s not just your body that gets dehydrated while traveling, it’s also your skin. I always bring a travel-size moisturizer that I can apply before my long nap and, if I’m really bored, sometimes I’ll apply a hydrating face mask. (Hey, no one looks cool while flying so you may as well look ridiculous while doing something good for your skin!)

Lip Balm

In an effort to keep my lips hydrated, I always bring a lip balm in my backpack carry-on. The Carmex brand is my favorite and this lip butter is extra hydrating. Pro tip: bring a couple more in your luggage (you know you’ll lose at least one on your trip).

Noise Cancelling Headphones

I always bring my own headphones when I travel. If I’m going on a short trip, I’ll bring some of my favorite wireless earbuds but that’s not the most comfortable for a long haul. When I’m flying across oceans, I pack a pair of noise-canceling headphones to help block out noise for easy sleeping. Get a pair of these affordable headphones by clicking on the photo above.

Face Wipes

I usually wear makeup when I’m flying but I always wipe it off before taking my plane nap. I love these Burt’s Bees micellar wipes. They keep my skin clean when I’m not able to shower or wash my face.

Travel Toothbrush + Toothpaste

I hate traveling without my electric toothbrush! My teeth just don’t feel the same level of clean without it. I found this pink travel toothbrush that I can bring with me wherever I go and I’ll never travel without it again. Don’t forget your travel-sized toothpaste. I’m a big fan of Toms!

Natural Travel Deodorant

I recently made the switch to natural deodorant and I will never look back. I’m a big fan of Kopari, which is made from coconut oil. I always smell like I’m ready for the beach. Grab this travel-sized deodorant and you’ll feel fresh all flight long.

Compression Socks

I always pack two pairs of socks for flying. One of them is a pair of compression socks. Again, I’m trying to stay comfortable on a 16-hour flight, not look cool. The other pair of socks is a fuzzy pair to keep my toes warm while we’re in the air.

Portable Phone Charger

Keep your phone, Kindle and any other electronics charged while you’re in the air thanks to this two-in-one battery charger. Not only will it keep your iPhone charged, but it’ll also make sure you evenly apply your moisturizer or face mask.


Scarves are travel essentials for me because they can double as a blanket. Grab a blanket scarf and stay warm when the plane gets chilly. It’s cleaner than the airplane blankets and it’s cuter, too.

Eye Mask

On every one of my trips, I have two sleep masks. Losing one of them is a huge fear of mine so I always have a backup. After years of using them, I’ve learned that they are not created equal. It’s worth it to splurge on a really nice one, like this one that’s the Amazon Editor’s Choice.

Sleep Aid

In case it wasn’t already obvious, sleep is very important to me when I’m traveling. I’m terrible at sleeping on airplanes so I always take a sleep aid after that first meal. Even a few hours helps!


I prefer reading actual books but when you’re traveling, carrying a bunch of books is just not feasible. Instead, I load up a Kindle with several books. It’s lightweight and great for use on planes. It’s also a great idea to bring a few extra charging cords.

Travel Pillow

My travel pillow is a dual purpose. I use it to nap on the plane but I also roll it up and place it under my knees when my legs start to ache. This one is perfect because you can use it three different ways.

Now you’re ready for your long-haul flight. Do you need anything else in your carry-on when traveling long distances? Let me know in the comments below.

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4 Comments on 15 Things I Always Pack in My Carry On For Long Haul Flights

  1. Ken Medd
    January 21, 2020 at 10:25 pm (2 years ago)

    Coti, you need to add “Tube of Neosporin” to your list. It is by far the best antiseptic and aid to skin healing by far.

    • coti
      January 23, 2020 at 10:44 am (2 years ago)

      I usually pack that in my checked luggage! 🙂

  2. Jim Borden
    January 22, 2020 at 6:38 pm (2 years ago)

    thanks for such a helpful list, Coti. those headphones look like a great deal. And I’ll have to try out the Kopari.

    • coti
      January 23, 2020 at 10:45 am (2 years ago)

      I love the Kopari. If you try it, let me know what you think.


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