Most people dread long haul travel.
And I admit, I used to as well. I mean, getting onto a plane with 8698234 people and staying that way for 14+ hours is a pretty good reason to start sweating. But over time, I’ve realised that you can have a relaxing flight, or you can have a terrible flight, with the key differentiating factor being your own preparation and the things you bring on board with you. Hence my ongoing commitment to curating my carry on, which is, if I’m honest, more tinkered with than my instagram bio. A trial and error approach has allowed me to really understand those things I wouldn’t step on the plane without.
With my trip down under to Australia for the holidays only a few days away, the guys over at Plantronics (makers of incredible noise cancelling headphones) recently asked me to share with you what’s in my bag, of the travelling kind. We decided to create a little checklist for you so you can refer to that when you’re travelling next! In essence my carry on and the tips that follow are all aimed at trying to make economy travel as luxurious as possible, so you can trick yourself into feeling like you’re rejuvenating and relaxing rather than stuck in a cramped aircraft.
My Long Haul Carry On Essentials
In my bag
Grana cashmere track pants, Empty 2 litre water bottle, Madewell eye mask, Kikki K journal, simple socks, Bobbi Brown compact and bronzer set, Oroton clutches (with Verso eye masks inside), Aesop moisturisers, teabags (black and herbal), Plantronics BackBeat PRO 2 SE, noise cancelling headphones, Larson & Jennings watch, Lucas Paw Paw Ointment.
Beauty products: As soon as I started thinking about long haul travel as potentially relaxing, almost spa-like experiences, it changed everything. Therefore I really up the ante with the beauty products when I travel, taking along eye and face masks (you’ll look crazy but who cares?), moisturiser, lip balm, hand cream, eye cream and pretty much anything I have on hand that’s small enough to fit. Who doesn’t love moisturising while watching Modern Family?
Noise Cancelling Headphones: The difference between economy, business and first class is huge and largely out of your control (unless you have $$$), but the one thing you can do is invest in some good quality noise cancelling headphones, which help make seat 59c, feel a little more like 8a. The new Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 are some great ones (and I’ve tried a bunch in my time!). I don’t usually splurge in my day to day life, but noise cancelling ones are finitely worth the investment – they really work and also ave a listening function so you can hear the outside world if you need to.
Sleep Kit: If you’re one of those people who can sleep easily on the plane, count your lucky stars! If, like the rest of us, it’s a struggle to get any shut eye, you really need to get your sleep kit sorted: Comfortable eye mask, earplugs, lavender oil and melatonin are mainstays in my sleep kit.
Chargers: Hopefully you’re flying with an airline that lets you power up, in which case whatever you do don’t leave your charger in your checked luggage. Having a fully charged phone when you land is #1.
Outfit: Tomes have been written on the subject of plane attire – how to look good but also have maximum comfort when you’re flying. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m all for the plane change (when you slip into something more comfortable) so you can really sink in and enjoy yourself, with either yoga pants or cashmere track pants being my go to. Add a scarf and some wooly socks, and slip on shoes for when you need to go to the bathroom, and you’re good to go.
Entertainment: A real life book (with pages!) is essential for when you can’t use your kindle, and a journal or notebook is a great thing to have on hand for some in-the-air life planning (anyone else do this?).
Organisation: Grouping key items into little bags might seem OCD, and something that’s definitely not my usual MO, but in the case of long haul travel it plays to be organised so things don’t go missing down the back of seats, tampons don’t roll out into the aisle etc etc etc (you get my drift).
Snacks: Plane snacks are absolutely key to not having to rely on the food you get given – this is something I consider in detail before I head off. I’ve written about this previously here, but have recently started also making coconut steel cut oats with shaved coconut, almonds, blueberries and banana. A simple meal that’s healthy and is great for between times.
Hydration: Obviously! If you’re allowed, make sure you take a 2l water bottle on the plane with you and ask the hostess to fill it up for you when you board… Or some planes even have taps in the galley you can use. Some destinations don’t allow you to take an empty bottle, but in some places you can buy one once you get through security.
Other tips for making long haul bearable?
Get the bulkhead seat: If you can, get a bulkhead seat (even if you have to pay for it). These seats are essentially the front of the rows and are as close to moving up to business as you’re going to get, and so so worth it. I’ve even worked out how to make my own bed using a few carry on items… more on that soon!
Order a special meal: Choose what you want, and get it first… How much more do I need to say on this? I opt for the vegetarian Indian meal which, although high in carbs, has lots of veggies which is what I crave on the plane.
Prep before landing: As soon as the pilot says 30 minutes to landing, or even just before that if you keep an eye on the time, get organised! Don’t faff around watching TV or sleeping – get dressed, go to the toilet and pack your bag… Because as much as it’s possible to make a flight relatively enjoyable. there’s still nothing better than getting out into the fresh air (and hopefully into your own bed or a hotel pool).