I never thought “flight essentials” were a thing.
I’m a careful packer and always try to carry the least amount of luggage as possible. I hate feeling weighed down at the airport so the farthest thing from my head is something I’d probably only use on a plane. But then I started traveling more and noticing, whether I think of them as “essentials” or not, I hardly travel without a few things.
I’m honestly not too bothered on short flights. As long as I have my kindle, I’m good. Those long flights though you’ll want to be prepared for. It’s pretty miserable to feel uncomfortable, bored and grumpy when you’re stuck on a plane for over 10 hours.
If you're traveling in or moving to Asia, especially coming from the U.S., you'll really want to maximize your comfort for your long flight!
P.S. I’ve never flown anything but Economy. And I fly a lot. All of these tips are tested and true from the middle seat of economy on a long ass budget flight.
1. A Kindle for the bookworms
You’ll hear me promote the Kindle a lot. As an avid reader, It’s my favorite way to pass the time, especially on transport.
I still prefer reading an actual book so it took me awhile to jump on the Kindle bandwagon but hear me out.
The Kindle is backlit. Meaning, when all the lights are off on the plane, you don’t have to be the annoying one with your overhead light on. I personally like the Kindle Paperwhite. Plus, it’s way smaller than any book and can hold 100s of titles.
I also only charge mine about once every two weeks so the battery won’t be a problem. And get this, the new version is waterproof! It just doesn't get better than reading in the pool or the waves once you've made it to your destination.
2. The Nintendo Switch for the gamers
I personally don’t enjoy playing video games (gasp!) but this one has been as influential to my husband as the Kindle has been to me.
I’ll just let him tell you about it:
The Switch is awesome! It’s a full gaming console but completely portable, lightweight and easy to take on the go. 100s of games now come for the Switch. Most of the popular titles are available and you can even get indie games from the online store for about $5. The battery lasts about 4-5 hours of non-stop playing and the two controllers can detach and be shared to play multiplayer. As Kat knows, I’ll no longer get on a bus, train or airplane without it.
3. Melatonin to catch some zzzz's
Melatonin is an all-natural sleep aid.
Many countries sell it over the counter at pharmacies or even supermarkets. It’s not strong enough to make me comatose in case I need to wake up for something but it does help me relax and get comfortable much easier than without it. I’ve slept more on these long flights than ever before thanks to this.
4. Girlfriend Collective Activewear to be comfortable yet cute
Everyone knows comfortable clothes are a lifesaver on flights but many of us don’t want to show up to the airport in pajamas. But hey, you do you!
Girlfriend Collective makes sustainable activewear in sizes XXS-X6L so there really is something for everyone. They also give you a choice in length and rise so you can find your perfect fit. My favorite are the Compressive High-Rise Leggings in Indigo with a 23 ¾ inseam. They also just started making tops but I haven’t tried them out yet.
I do suggest having some extra loose fitting pants in your carry on to change in to for sleeping. These tights are great for running through the airport but can cut off your circulation if you're small enough to curl up on the plane's seat.
I’ve been wearing this brand for years. They’re my go-to on travel days and are perfect for even after you land.
5. Headphones as an obvious necessity
I’ve actually seen some airlines charge for those uncomfortable shitty things they try to pass off as headphones. Free or not, I vote no.
Bring your own but make sure they can plug in to the audio jack if you’re trying to take advantage of the in flight entertainment.
I recently got the Meidong E6 bluetooth headphones and I love them. They’re affordable, comfortable, have a long battery life and come with an 3.5 mm audio jack so you can plug them in if needed. Side note- pretty much all headphones are 3.5 mm but double check this before you purchase any. This is the standard size but some brands like to be weird.
6. A charger or a battery pack
A lot of long flights these days have a USB port at each seat for you to charge any small device. Sometimes they’re just strong enough to keep your phone from dying but not really refuel it and other times they don’t even work. Keep in mind, even the strong ones are not powerful enough to charge the Nintendo Switch while playing. Turn it off and let it recharge.
For a battery pack, go for one that's 100wh or less. If it's a bigger one, check with the airline before bringing it on as some are banned completely from flights. Either way, these guys can't go in checked luggage, so charge them up and take advantage of them on the flight. Make sure you don’t arrive with a dead phone or die of boredom on the flight and carry a battery pack with you.
7. A change of socks & panties to stay fresh
You really won’t want to forget this, especially for those super long travel days
I usually wear one pair of socks & panties in the airport and change into fresh ones as soon as I get on the flight.
If I have multiple long flights in one day (flying from the east coast of the US to Vietnam is no joke), I’ll bring enough to change each flight. This really helps get me to feel clean & not be so stinky to whoever is sitting next to me.
Want to move abroad more than anything?
Get the clarity and confidence you need to move abroad with A Way Abroad's Mentorship Program.
Together we'll overcome the hurdles that are holding you back from making a move, whether it be fear, lack of confidence, uncertainty, or feeling overwhelmed by your options.
Through 1:1 calls with me, the AWA founder, we'll dive deep into all the good, the bad, and the messy aspects of life abroad, so you can make informed decisions and take the next right step.
Now with 3 packages to choose from, find the mentorship program that best fits your needs!
8. A Slip Eye Mask to still feel like a princess in Economy
Sometimes eye masks are provided for you in your little bag of goodies on your seat. I always used the freebie and wasn’t too bothered by it but also never really got why people were so obsessed with eye masks.
That all changed the day I got my first Slip eye mask.
It’s expensive, I mean it is made of silk, but damn it’s comfortable. It’s like putting two tiny little pillows over your eyes. It provides just the right amount of pressure to make you feel comfortable and is thick enough to actually block out the light.
Combine with Melatonin and hello, nap time!
9. The Comfy because comfort is #1
You may think this is a joke but it’s not.
I’m obsessed with this thing.
I’m cold-natured and feel much better when I’m warm and cozy so this thing was a travel lifesaver. I’m by no means suggesting you bring this with you for a week trip to the Philippines but if you’re like me and take a long trip around the world each year, this is well worth it.
My last flight back to Vietnam after spending Christmas with my family was 26 hours in economy (and we were actually happy it was under 30 hours like usual). We got lucky and only had 1 quick layover so you can probably do the math and see we were on planes for a lonnngggg time. I wore my Comfy for most of the flights or used it as a pillow and was beyond comfortable the entire time.
The hood is big and can cover your face, I’m short enough to fold up inside of it (5’4’’), and the pockets held on to things like headphones that usually get lost in between the seats.
It’s really big to pack, so I wore it in the airports too. I like to think the sideways glances I got were looks of envy.
If you're embarking on this adventure solo, be sure to stay safe! Traveling solo is one of the most liberating experiences but don't let your newfound freedom get you too distracted while you're out there exploring.
So, get on that flight and enjoy it. I've actually stopped dreading these long flights and have instead embraced the questionable plane food, the far too cheesy movie options and total me-time without distractions from social media or work. Treat yo'self to some non-essential essentials...or not...either way, use the time to daydream about all of the wonderful things awaiting you at your next destination.