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I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

According to a discerning traveller.

I've learned, after years of travelling, that most lists of long haul flight essentials – thrown up Googling what to take on a long haul flight – include an awful lot of items that, quite frankly, aren't essential. At all. Nail files, rain jackets, four thousand copies of your passport photo and three changes of clothes. Useful, perhaps, and able to serve up ample peace-of-mind for the nervous flyers among us. But for a ten-and-a-half hour flight from London to Male? Not strictly necessary.

As a travel-obsessed writer working in women's lifestyle magazines, I'm no stranger to a long haul flight; I've been lucky enough to fly to Barbados, Australia, New Zealand, North America, Thailand and Jamaica. I've been subject to painful delays, cancelled flights, hideous turbulence (I'll spare you the details) and countless cold airport breakfasts. I've also never flown business class, so I consider myself quite the expert in going some way towards turning long-haul economy flights luxury. Ish.

Here, my experience-inspired list of long-haul flight essential items that are actually, IMO, rather crucial. From the obvious (snacks and an oversized hoodie) to the oft-forgotten. Woollen shawls, travel pillows, power banks and a spare change of underwear. By the Underdays or Stripe & Stare, if at all possible. Both brands behind my favourite underwear ever.

Ahead, the long-haul flight essentials you need to take on your next flight.

1. A carry-on suitcase

If you're travelling short haul – to one of the best Greek islands, the best hotels in Puglia or the best hotels in Mallorca, let's say – you can easily stow away your carry-on essentials into a travel rucksack, laptop backpack or crossbody bag. If you're travelling on a long haul international flight or overnight flight, however, you should consider taking a good-quality carry-on bag – which the best luggage brands stock in abundance.

Your carry-on suitcase should fit in the overhead cabin, obviously, but also glide around the airport with ease. 360 degree rotation to the wheels is a god-send, and external pockets for easy access to your essentials will be a life saver.

I'm a huge fan of Antler's carry on luggage – my full Antler luggage review will give you all the deets, but their Clifton suitcases have supported me through countless airport-related nightmares and have recently been updated in some very cute new colour-ways. Elsewhere, Away's The Carry-On also comes in highly recommended. It's expandable, can be delivered within three-five days, has 360° spinner wheels and is impressively lightweight. Your hand luggage never looked so chic.

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Clifton Cabin£170 £127.50 at Antler

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Stamford 2.0 Cabin in Dusk Blue£200 at Antler

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Tripp Mint Retro II Cabin 4 Wheel Suitcase£45 at Amazon

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Samsonite C-Lite 4-Wheel 55cm Expandable Cabin Case£379 at John Lewis & Partners

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Monos Carry-On Pro Plus£370 at Monos

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Beis The Carry-On Roller£223 at Beis Travel

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Chelsea Backpack£140 at Antler

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Antler Chelsea Weekender£160 at Antler

2. Your passport

At the risk of sounding patronising, I wanted to dedicate a moment to your passport – but not because I think you're going to forget it. You won't. You can't. Rather, because a chic, leather passport cover, like one of the below options from Mulberry or Aspinal of London, has the power to elevate your travel experience endlessly. And is essential for keeping physical boarding passes and visa documentation safe.

There's quite no feeling like whacking out a heavy grain, logo-embossed, personalised case at passport control: a subtle, very middle-class flex that will make your far-from-glam flying experience feel a whole lot fancier. Aspinal of London has regular sales – and their passport holders are a solid choice. Burberry is a classic, if you have a little more money to spend.

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Passport Cover Silver Pebble£70 £35 at Aspinal London

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Passport Cover Evergreen Patent Croc£70 at Aspinal of London

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Caroline Gardner Heart Passport Holder, Orange£18.50 at John Lewis

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Check Passport Holder£270 at Burberry

3. Comfortable clothes – to wear, and to change into

Reliable, carry-on suitcase purchased; passport packed. What long haul travel essential is next? A chic-yet-comfortable, influencer-approved airport outfit. My advice? Wear one; pack one. While the majority of your wardrobe essentials should be carried in your check-in case, those of you who've been unfortunate enough to lose a suitcase somewhere between Gatwick and Dubai will know that a spare change of clothes can turn out to be a lifesaver.

Off-duty comfort is key here, but you also want to look put-together. Think: a matching two-piece set or tracksuit, chunky trainers, gold jewellery and a designer bag or bucket tote. Adanola is the activewear brand all over your Instagram feed right now, with their cool and minimalist activewear bridging the gap between working out and lounging about, while yoga pants from the likes of Sweaty Betty or Lululemon remain a personal forever fave in the airport dressing games. My New Balance 530s are the most comfortable pair of shoes I own – though I'll always take them off in the air, when my feet swell – and my new FRAME X Ritz Paris silk crepe shirt feels like pyjamas but looks so much fancier.

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Discover Short Sleeve Oversized T-shirt – White£38.99 at Adanola

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Unisex 530 Trainers£100 at New Balance

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

SPORTY & RICH Printed cotton-jersey T-shirt£55 at Net-A-Porter

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

FRAME + Ritz Paris embroidered printed silk-crepe shirt£580 at Net-A-Porter

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Ultimate Wrap Over Leggings – Dark Grey£39.99 at Adanola

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

ARCH4 + NET SUSTAIN Oli & Eloise cashmere hoodie and track pants set£990 at Net-A-Porter

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

GUCCI Webbing-trimmed printed tech-jersey track pants£1,300 at Net-A-Porter

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

ADA Oversized Hoodie – Midnight Blue£59.99 at Adanola

4. Slip on shoes

If you're not a trainers gal – or your feet swell, like mine – consider footwear that you can slip on and off. It's much easier.

Hailey Bieber, Gigi Hadid and Kaia Gerber et. al. all cemented UGG Ultra Mini boots as the only comfy footwear choice worth knowing last year (Kendall Jenner and Emily Ratajkowski both made compelling cases for their style credentials, too), and they're still a solid choice. For 2024, though, Dr. Martens' Zebzag Suede Mules are the hottest viral style and sold out almost everywhere. The perfect long haul shoe, if you can find some. Elsewhere, a pair of flat espadrilles or Birkenstock Arizonas are forever comfy – and wearing something you'll actually wear again on holiday is a genius space-saving hack.

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

BIRKENSTOCK Milano shearling-lined suede sandals£150 at Net A Porter

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Dr. Martens Zebzag Olive Suede Mules£109 at Urban Outfitters

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Ugg Tazz Platform Slippers Chestnut£105 at Office

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Birkenstock Arizona Regular Fit Birko Flor Double Strap Sandals£65 at John Lewis

5. A blanket or scarf

Planes are cold. Stat. I've lost count of the number of times I've sat shivering in the middle of the night thanks to an inability to pack a blanket or shawl to keep me warm. Of course, most airlines aim to maintain temperatures between 23℃ to 25℃, but amped-up air conditioning during periods of turbulence (to help with motion sickness, FYI), can leave you feeling chilly. So, one of my best travel tips for first time long haul flyers is to pack layers, including a blanket-life scarf. Like this oversized number from COS.

Not only will it keep you warm and be easy for flight attendants to lift if they need to check your seatbelt is on, but it’ll capsule wardrobe staple that'll absolutely soften the temperature shock when you land back on British soil.

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Oversized Double-Faced Wool Scarf£89.50 at COS

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Orange & Pink Check Heavyweight Scarf£39.50 at Oliver Bonas

6. The Uniqlo Crossbody bag for all of your essentials (or something else small)

Rummaging through your carry-on suitcase for travel documents is less-than-ideal, so, take a functional crossbody bag which boasts space for your phone, keys and passport. Uniqlo's Mini Round Shoulder Bag which has been trending on TikTok since the tail-end of 2022, was the hottest product of Q1 2023, according to fashion monitor Lyst, and is still being released in new colours.

Perfect for flying, it fits so much more inside than first appearances would suggest, including a chunky reusable water bottle and a book. Oh, and after being released initially in just a few select neutral tones, it's now available in a plethora of vibrant pastel hues and texture: from lemon yellow to crochet and an alluring, Bottega and GANNI-esque apple green shade. No surprises, then, that every discerning member of the fashion set has raced out to buy it.

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Round Mini Shoulder Bag Pink£14.90 at Uniqlo

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Round Mini Shoulder Bag£14.90 at Uniqlo

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Round Mini Shoulder Bag£14.90 at Uniqlo

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Round Mini Shoulder Bag Blue£14.90 at Uniqlo

7. Lip balm

It's no secret that the air recirculated on a plane can leave your skin suffering. Why? Planes have an average humidity of between 10 and 20 per cent (compared to around 25 percent in the Sahara Desert, for reference), so any moisturising beauty products under 100ml that you have room to pack will be welcomed. While I do tend to pack a natural deodorant miniature, intense moisturiser (the Dr.Jart+ Ceramidin Cream which contains Hyaluronic Acid, Beetroot and Bifida Ferment Lysate is my go-to), I'm aware I stated that this guide would feature essentials only. And as far as beauty products go, I'd suggest that lip balm is one of only two essentials.

The Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask Ex is my pick: a flavoured lip mask designed for wearing overnight that intensely nourishes and smooths the lips. Available in five mouth-watering flavours, it plumps the lips with intense moisture, helping to minimise roughness and cracking due to dryness.

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Summer Fridays Lip Butter Balm£23 £18.40 at Cult Beauty

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Super Healthy Skin Nourishing Lip Balm SPF 30£25 at Beauty Pie

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Dior Addict Lip Glow£29.50 £26.55 at Boots

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

StriVectin Advanced Hydration Hyaluronic Omega Moisture Lip Mask£26 £19.50 at Boots

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask Ex£14 at Amazon

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

r.e.m. Beauty Everything Nice Lip Balm£15 at Selfridges

8. A sheet mask

The second beauty essential for flying? A sheet mask. Your LED face mask would be a bit of a stretch, but packing a sheet mask is totally do-able. It might make you look silly. It might make you feel embarrassed. But boy will your skin thank you for that injection of hydration when you land in {enter name of beautifully exotic, sun-drenched country here}.

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Dr.Jart+ Dermask Water Jet Vital Hydra Solution£6.50 at LookFantastic

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

111SKIN Y Theorem Bio Cellulose Facial Mask£20 at LookFantastic

I once packed in far too much of a rush to lather my limbs in one of the best fake tans ahead of a trip to Jamaica, so I picked up a pack of St. Tropez Self Tan Express Face Sheet Masks at the airport. Not only did they give my skin a dewy, radiant finish, but just five minutes' wear allows your skin to develop a light and natural tan within eight hours. Such, an easy and convenient way to tan your face.

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Charlotte Tilbury Instant Magic Facial Dry Sheet Mask£18 at Charlotte Tilbury

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

St. Tropez Self Tan Express Face Sheet Masks£6.95 at Boots

9. A reusable water bottle

Our bodies lose roughly eight ounces of water during a flight (!), so carrying a bottle of water with you is a non-negotiable. But don't just pick up a single-use water bottle at the airport – plastic pollution is real, people. Instead, invest in a reusable water bottle that you can empty before security and refill at the departure lounge water fountains before take-off. Stanley has just released a new Ice Flow bottle with lid, which I carry everywhere with me – while the below come recommended by my colleagues.

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Owala FreeSip Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle 40 oz£57.98 at Amazon

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

LARQ self cleaning water bottle£99 at Amazon

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Mayim Collapsible Carabiner Bottle£16 at Free People

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Owala FreeSip Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle 32 oz£33.17 at Amazon

10. Hair ties

Long hair gets in the way when you're whizzing from security to your boarding gate, so having hair ties to hand is crucial. I always opt for silk scrunchies, preferably Drowsy's Pillow oversized scrunchie, because they're much kinder to hair and don't leave that dreaded kink halfway down your head. I've already got the Drowsy scrunchie in pink, but I'm after it in black, too.

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

ESPA Silk Scrunchies£18 £14.40 at LookFantastic

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Pillow Scrunchie Black£40 £29 at Drowsy

11. Chewing gum

I always carry chewing gum with me on a long haul flight. Not only does it make me feel that little bit fresher, but it also stops my ears from popping during take off and landing. To WHSmith you go.

12. Snacks

Sure, you'll get a plane meal on most long-haul flights, but if you're a hungry girl like me, it might not be enough. Or at the time you'd prefer. Or large enough to keep you satisfied when your hotel transfer gets delayed the other side and you're desperate for a meal. For that reason, I always pick up a few flapjacks, bananas and may be a Pret sandwich in the departure lounge to stow away in my underseat luggage and save for later.

13. Eye mask

Depending on the airline you're travelling with, you might get an eye mask handed to you when boarding, but regardless, I'd recommend investing in a Drowsy sleep mask. Not just for flying, but for every. Single. Day. I first saw Drowsy eye masks doing the rounds on TikTok and Instagram – on the feeds of Sophie Habboo, Selling Sunset's Heather Rae El Moussa, Winnie Harlow and Jessica Alba – and I was so intrigued. I'd tried countless sleep masks before and never really gotten on with them, but Drowsy is a whole different ball game. They're like a big, squishy cloud-like piece of padding which wrap around your head and block out all light. And since they cover your ears, they block out sound, too. Buy one. Please.

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

DROWSY Silk Sleep Mask£69 at Amazon

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

DROWSY Silk Sleep Mask£69 at Amazon

14. Earplugs for sleeping

Again, something you might get handed by the crew when you board, but earplugs for sleeping are crucial if you struggle to drop off with background noise surrounding you. Loop's earplugs are designed with sleeping and comfort in mind, helping you to filter out background noise like snoring and seatbelt announcements. You'll get use for them once you're home, too. They're as stylish as your silk sleep mask, so we’re pretty positive you’ll also end up whipping them out on days when the office is a little too loud.

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Boots Flight Earplugs (1 Pair with Carry Case)£4.70 at Boots

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Loop Quiet – Ear Plugs for Sleep£19.95 at Amazon

15. Compression socks

Being able to stand up and walk around or stretching is limited on a plane, so promoting blood circulation is necessary. A pair of compression socks will help to increase circulation, thus preventing swelling in your lower legs and feet.

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Boots Flight Socks Compression Level 14-17mmHg Size 6-9- 1 Pair£14.20 at Boots

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

CAMBIVO Compression Socks for Women£14.44 at Amazon

16. Change of underwear

Delays can happen. Spillages can happen. Period leaks can happen. Sometimes you just want to freshen up. For these reasons – and countless others – I'd recommend packing a spare pair of knickers on your next long haul flight. And if you can, a pair by The Underdays.

The Underdays knickers are my new obsession: the result of over 50 rounds of user testing – including consultations with gynaecologists – and two years of design changes. Their high-waisted, super-soft basics are beyond comfy; I've been recommending them to all of my friends. Elsewhere, Stripe and Stare are loved by the GLAMOUR team – and a pair of period pants will be needed if you're in that point of your cycle.

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

The Brief Starter Pack£50 at Underdays

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Thong Four Pack£50 at Stripe And Stare

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

High Rise Knicker Four Pack£50 at Stripe And Stare

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

The Thong Starter Pack£46 at Underdays

17. Travel adapter

An obvious one, but a long haul flight essential that's so often forgotten. Always remember a travel adapter, so inject juice into your phone/earphones/laptop from wherever in the world you are.

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Universal Travel Adapter Worldwide£12.99 at Amazon

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Worldwide Travel Adapter with USB£14.99 at Amazon

18. A travel pillow

Most airlines will provide a small pillow on an overnight or long haul flight, but they're never that good at serving up sufficient neck support. Pack a good-quality travel pillow that curves around your head and prevents dreaded head rolling, so that you can always sleep upright.

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Memory foam neck pillow£9.99 at Amazon

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

BCOZZY neck pillow£40.97 at Amazon

19. A good book

There's nothing like the joy of getting stuck into one of the best new books, and the latest releases will, hands down, beat the sub-par in-flight entertainment that’s usually on offer. Our resident literary experts, Chaya Burns and Sophie Ezra, are on-hand to recommend the best new releases in every month of the year. Right now? Maya's Laws of Love, How To Solve Your Own Murder and Small Hours are topping our lists of the most epic page-turners.

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Maya’s Laws Of Love£8.27 at Amazon

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

How To Solve Your Own Murder£14.99 at Amazon

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Until August£13.49 at Amazon

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Small Hours£16.97 at Amazon

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Kindle Paperwhite£139.99 £95 at Amazon

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Kindle Oasis£229.99 £169.99 at Amazon

20. Hand sanitiser

Hand sanitiser became a necessity when COVID took over our lives, and to be honest, I'd still begrudge flying without it. It's commonplace in airports, but the stuff they hand out on entry to your plane can be a little too tough on the skin.

Aesop's lightweight Rinse-Free hand mist, bursting with citrus notes, is a gentler option. As is Beauty Pie's Good Hands, which is infused with Jojoba Oil, Glycerine, hydrating Osmolyte, Lemon and Bitter Orange Essential Oils, Copper Peptides and 60% cleansing alcohol to ensure your hands are kept clean.

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Aesop rinse-free hand mist£11 at Look Fantastic

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

GOOD HANDS™ No Rinse Hand Cleansing Gel£12 at Beauty Pie

21. A portable charger

A portable charger is paramount, not only for accessing the boarding pass you saved to your almost-dead iPhone wallet, but for ensuring your phone has enough charge to pass the time when your flight is delayed.

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Anker PowerCore 20100 portable charger£37.99 at Amazon

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

iWALK mini portable charger£23.99 at Amazon

22. A luggage tracker

According to TikTok users – the clever problem solvers that they are – people have been turning to tiny bluetooth tracker tags to avoid losing their valuables on holiday. And I'm totally on board. With the worldwide shortage of airport staff meaning that thousands upon thousands of bags are being left in baggage reclaim, a luggage tracker will avoid you being at a loss to know how on earth you're supposed to locate their bags.

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

TUVOS Smart Bluetooth Item Finder£19.99 £13.59 at Amazon

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Apple AirTag£28 at Amazon

23. Noise-cancelling wireless headphones

If there was ever a time to invest in a pair of wireless, noise-cancelling headphones, before a long-haul flight is it. Otherwise, risk being stuck with a soundtrack of crying babies and clattering hospitality trolleys for an entire ten hour stint.

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Apple AirPods Max noise cancelling headphones£499 at Currys

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Bose noise cancelling headphones 700£199.99 at Amazon

24. A toothbrush

Brushing your teeth is a guaranteed way to have you feeling fresh(er) in an instant, and while some airlines include toothbrushes and toothpaste in their on-flight pack of toiletries, others don't. This mini folding toothbrush is available for less than £4 on Amazon, and will make jet lag feel a little less gross during your layover.

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

Colgate travel folding toothbrush£3.50 at Amazon

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

SURI Electric Toothbrush Winter Fern and UV Case£95 £71.25 at Boots

25. A foot hammock

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

ONECOLE Airplane Footrest£16.99 at Amazon

I never get on a long-haul flight without these key essentials

ONECOLE Airplane Footrest£16.99 at Amazon

I was a bit sceptical – and you'll have to check whether they're actually allowed with your airline – but if you feel the need to elevate your legs, even on a short flight, they could come in handy. They attach to the seat and table in front of you, and you're able to place your legs in a variety of positions while you fly – from knees bent to reclining with your legs extended. An affordable buy, if elevating your legs feels like a must.

After more travel content? Book the best hotels in Sicily, best weekend breaks UK, best Paris hotels, best hotels in Tenerife and best hotels in Seville. For more from GLAMOUR's Senior European Commerce Editor Sophie Cockett, follow her on Instagram @sophiecockettx.