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Taking long distance flights is something I find very exciting, I literally can’t hold back the excitement on the morning of my flight. Now before we get to the flight part comes the packing part which cam be a bit of a gory task sometimes.

I wish I had some more guidelines on what to pack in a carry on bag for my first international flight, I ended up packing so much crap I didn’t need. After taking a number of international flights, I put together this list of must have items that you should pack in a carry on bag.

Items You Don’t want To Forget

Neck Pillow

I couldn’t possibly imagine an 8 hour + flight without a neck pillow. My very first neck pillow was a cheap inflatable one that I used once. Neck pillows are a complete life saver when it comes to nap time on your long haul flight. There’s nothing worse than your head bobbing around as you fall off to sleep and you occasionally rest your head on your neighbor’s shoulder haha. Now that’s fine if you actually know the person that’s sitting next to you but it’s kinda awkward and annoying if it’s a complete stranger. This neck pillow makes sure your head is in a comfortable position and not bobbing around helplessly while you sleep.

Power Bank

This is mostly to be used while you are waiting around and transiting through airports. Some times you might even have a long stopover and you definitely don’t want to be without battery power. Airlines have USB ports on the airplane where you can charge your phone and other devices during the flight. I charge up my power bank while on the flight sometimes too.

This lightweight power bank is also a better alternative to using the USB ports at airports as hackers can gain access to your cellphone data putting your personal information at risk. So airport USB ports are a big no.

Compression socks

Jobst Compression socks help with increasing blood circulation in your legs while taking long flights and reduce the risk of swelling ankles or worse deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and clotting on a long flight.


These are one of the items that most airlines provide you with, however the airline provided earphones are re purposed. Even though the airline provided earphones are packaged when you receive them, they are re-used, cleaned and packaged. So an absolute hygiene no. most earphones like this pair plug into the earphone jack so you can still enjoy all in flight entertainment.


This is a great accessory for a number of reasons. The first is to make you look absolutely stylish while traveling. When taking long haul flights women (myself included) tend to dress down and dress for comfort. A simple scarf can add an element of glam to your outfit. The second reason is that a scarf can give you some added warmth during the flight. We all know how cold the airplane cabin gets during the flight and a scarf is great for adding that extra bit with warmth if you don’t want to carry around a big bulky coat.

Infinity scarves are also great for keeping your belongings such as your passport and cellphone safe will traveling. This is a really great infinity scarf with a secret hidden pocket, perfect for long haul flights.

USB Cable and cellphone charger

As mentioned above you can charge your cellphone or other electronics in flight using a USB cable. Also, carry a cellphone charger so you can plug in at airports. They often have a few plugs where you can plug in your cellphone charger. Note this is not the same as the USB ports that you shouldn’t use in order to protect your personal data.


A lot of airlines have great in flight entertainment systems with a variety of music you can listen to a well as many movies and series of all genres that you can watch. However, sometimes the best way to pass time is to read a good book.

Sleep Mask

It can be difficult to fall asleep while on an airplane due to the light that could be coming n from outside or due to lights that other passengers have switched on. some people need complete darkness in order to fall asleep. If you are one of those people I highly recommend you get this Bluetooth sleeping eye mask.

Cosmetics and Sanitation

Long haul flights can really take a toll on your body. For example, you need to drink more water as you become dehydrated. You still need to take care of your skin, particularly your face. You are only permitted to carry 100ml per liquid item in you carry on so you can purchase these containers, and put small amounts of your products in it. My list of cosmetics and sanitation products include the following:

  • Wet Wipes
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • pocket tissues
  • Lip Balm
  • Hand Cream
  • Mouth Wash
  • Disposable Toothbrush
  • Breath Mints
  • Face Wash, Face toner and Face Cream


Your carry on should include some essential medication. If you take any chronic medication it should definitely be included. You should also have all medication listed below especially if it’s your first international flight. Our bodies react differently to the altitude and some people suffer from motion sickness. I’m sure the cabin crew have some basic medication available, however it’s always better to carry your own especially if you could have allergic reactions. These containers are great for carrying medication. You should include the following medication in your carry on:

  • Any chronic medication that you take
  • Headache tablets
  • Diarrhea tablets
  • Nausea tablets

Items Provided by Most Airlines (Amenity Kits)

The following items are provided to you at no extra cost on most airlines like Qatar airways, Emirates, Cathay Pacific and Ethiopian.

  • Sleep mask
  • lip balm
  • earphones
  • socks
  • blankets
  • ear plugs

What About Money, Passport and Cellphone?

I never, ever pack these three in my carry on bag. It is not safe to keep any of these items in your carry on. Your money (all currency), passport and especially your cellphone should always be kept in a Travel Money Belt that is attached to you. This is the safest way to travel when catching international flight. There are hundreds of stories where people are robbed at airports and while in transit. In some cases carry on luggage is also stolen.

Rather, safe than sorry, keep your money, passport and cellphone in your Travel Money Belt or make use of the Infinity Scarf mentioned above.

Comment below if you found this list to be helpful.


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