Must-have Travel Accessories for Long Flights
What are the best travel gadgets for long flights? Survive a long flight with these carry-on essentials and airplane travel accessories.
Table of contents
- Cabeau neck pillow
- Travel Pillow
- Transport Travel Blanket
- Ultrasoft Compression Travel Socks
- Peak Design Tech Pouch
- Travel Hoodie
- Sleep Mask
- Noise canceling Headphones
- AirFly by Twelve South
- Headphone jack splitter
- Battery back up
- Reusable Water Bottle
- Audiobooks (via Audible)
- Apple AirTags
- Fanny Pack
- Comfy socks
- Travel locks
- Comfy pants
- Passport case
- Collapsible/nestable Tupperware or travel food storage
Long flights are challenging. Especially red eye flights.
Nowadays, flights can be especially rough because food and drink service may be limited and “basic economy” is now the new normal. I definitely miss the days when a full meal was standard, and you didn’t have to pay $50 for a carry-on, but alas, here we are.
We’ve traveled a lot over the past few years. We’ve had a lot of experiences on flights anywhere from 30 minutes to 16.5 hours, and from budget red-eye flights to business class booked on airline miles.
There are only so many other flights out there that are longer than these 16-hour long-hauls, and spending nearly 75% of a day on an airplane is not for the faint of heart!
I’m excited to share all of my favorite travel accessories in addition to my favorite go-to travel accessories that have helped me stay comfortable and entertained on long flights, because a flight experience is definitely what you make of it and how prepared you are to not lose your sanity.
Browse our 5 favorite picks
Let’s get started with the travel accessory essentials that could make or break your long-haul international flight experience.
Cabeau neck pillow
The Cabeau travel pillow has been traveling with us since 2017. Becca wears it during all of the flights and long bus rides that we take together. She’s much better at being able to sleep on flights than I am.
We like this pillow because you can wash the zippered fabric cover, and the design is much more sturdy than any of the other pillows that we’ve used before. It’s also one of Becca’s recommended travel products for women.
I actually have trouble with travel neck pillows. I’ve tried Becca’s Cabeau and never sleep comfortably with it. I usually want a real pillow and try to scrunch up whatever neck pillow I have to make it into a real pillow. Or, I’ll end up using a jacket or sweatshirt.
A pillow is generally a good idea to travel with. It comes in handy if you have any type of bus travel the roads are smooth enough to take a nap. Also, having a spare pillow is great if your accommodation has really flat pillows.
I would take a look at some of the camping pillows that Sea to Summit makes. They have a selection of inflatable and packable pillows that will pair nicely with travel as well.
Transport Travel Blanket
Some flights now make you pay for blankets, and having one of your own is a great way to save money while traveling. A blanket is a nice way to help keep you more comfortable as you try to sleep on a long-haul flight.
Also, I’m pretty sure that airlines don’t wash those blankets and reseal them. Traveling with your own blanket ensures that it’s your blanket, and you know where it came from.
Traveling with your own blanket can also be useful for your final destination; it can be a better option than using comforters at hotels or guest blankets anywhere else. We have and recommend the Transport Travel Blanket from NxTSTOP, which is 40” x 76” and has a small packability profile of about 10” total. It’s machine-washable and really soft.
If you’re looking for other options, I would look into this travel blanket and this one from Cabeau.
Ultrasoft Compression Travel Socks
I recently learned that compression socks, when worn on flights, increase comfort when flying. On a flight, you don’t move around much and your circulation naturally slows down. So, it’s helpful that compression socks help transport blood from extremities to your heart and help you avoid blood clots when you’re sitting in a cramped space.
A solid pair of travel compression socks can be preventative for post-flight swelling as well. We recently tried out the Ultrasoft Compression Travel Socks from NxTSTOP (and they were perfect) during a flight from New York to the west coast of Canada.
Peak Design Tech Pouch
Because I travel with a lot of cords, cables and dongles, something like the field pouch or the tech pouch is a great way to stay organized and have quick access to everything that you need.
Instead of throwing my phone cable, headphone wires, audio splitter, power bank, pens, my passport (when Becca doesn’t have it in her fanny pack) and everything else into the bottom of my bag, I’ll organize it all with a pouch.
I started bringing a travel hoodie with me, and it’s been a good way to stay comfortable in cold airports and on cold flights.
During all times of the year, airports are typically cold. Flights can be really cold, too. Having a lightweight hoodie that packs away in your carry-on is a perfect addition to your flight kit, and the Aviator travel hoodie has cool features like an oversized hood that helps become a sleep mask.
Want to learn more about the Aviator travel hoodie? We did a review all about it
For times when you want to sleep on flights, but the lights are still on, a good sleep mask is crucial.
I like this sleep mask because it has memory foam and doesn’t put any pressure on your eyes. It should create a really solid seal to let as little light in as possible.
Noise canceling Headphones
These Sony noise-canceling headphones are currently my top pick for headphones. On flights, they are the best because they block out a lot of noise from the airplane and other passengers.
When you have them on with the noise cancellation mode, it’s truly amazing how much of the plane’s white noise the headphones will block out.
They come with a convenient carrying case, so you can make sure they stay in great shape while you transport them and take them in and out of your carry-on luggage.
AirFly by Twelve South
One thing that we wish we had much sooner was the AirFly. It’s a device that you can plug into the headphone hack on the airplane media console and pair your own bluetooth headphones to it.
This is amazing for times when you have your AirPods, but don’t have a way to connect them to the airplane media console.
Headphone jack splitter
If you’re traveling with a significant other, family member or friend, a headphone splitter is one of the best and smallest things that you can carry with you to enhance your trip.
You can plug a headphone splitter into the arm rest to watch a movie with someone. You can also split the audio out of an iPad or a phone to watch something downloaded on any of your favorite streaming services. iPhone users will need this dongle and most other phones can use this dongle.
A good pair of earplugs will help most people sleep for a few uninterrupted hours on flights. Long flights try to get you on a normal schedule by shutting off the lights during a portion of the flight to simulate nighttime.
During this time, when the flight is quiet, it’s a perfect time to put in your earplugs to block out any noise from other passengers.
Battery back up
Some of the newer airplanes have power chargers under the seats. Aside from them being super hard to locate, your plug can often fall out, especially when you’re least expecting it.
It’s more on the rare side that the flights I’ve taken recently have these power outlets.
I like traveling with a power bank on long flights because I can charge my phone, iPad or headphones before they run out of batteries. For flights over the five-hour mark, this is important so that I can arrive at my destination with a fully-charged phone.
Reusable Water Bottle
Water bottles are a must for me while being in an airport and on an airplane for an extended amount of time.
Airport water is expensive, and can sometimes be $4 or $5! It seems crazy to spend that when almost every airport I’ve been to has a water refilling station. But the catch is, you need your own bottle. I’ve sometimes bought the cheapest bottle of water so that I can reuse the plastic bottle!
To be a sustainable traveler, ask the flight attendants on your flight to fill your bottle instead of drinking several of those tiny water cups. You also want to make sure you’re drinking a lot of water, because it’s easy to get dehydrated on flights. We like to stay healthy while traveling!
I realized that the day after traveling a long distance, I never felt great, and I think that is because I never drank enough water on longer flights.
These days, I like to sit on the aisle so that I can get up, stretch my legs and have an easy exit to the bathroom if I need one.
It’s typical for some types of airplanes to not have any entertainment on the backs of the seats. Or, if you get really unlucky, your entertainment center might not work.
On a recent flight of mine, the touch capability on the in-flight entertainment screen stopped working, and I couldn’t change the brightness of the screen. When my movie finished, I wasn’t able to watch anything new!
Luckily, I had my phone, and I was able to watch something on it because I had downloaded some videos. I wish I traveled with my iPad because it would have been much more enjoyable to watch something on a larger screen.
Also, if you are traveling with kids, an iPad is a great way to keep them entertained. For times when flights do have entertainment on the seats, having an iPad with kids is still a good idea so that children aren’t bumping and tapping too hard on the seat neighbor.
I’ve found that this iPad stand is the best lightweight stand to travel with and prop a tablet or phone on the airplane tray table.
For the readers in the group, a Kindle is a great way to travel with all of your books, but without carrying any of the weight.
On my most recent flight, I opted not to bring a book because I had no room in my carry-on. I did have room for a Kindle, though.
If you travel with a Kindle, be sure not to bring it to the beach during your trip and sit on it. I had a friend who did that, and she was pretty upset. Kindles do happen to be more ‘breakable’ than paperback books.
Audiobooks (via Audible)
Audiobooks with Audible are great. I am not a big text reader, but I really do enjoy listening to audiobooks as much as I can. Long flights are the perfect opportunity to catch up on all of your books and make a big dent into your queue.
As a free alternative, look into how you can rent books from your local library!
For those who don’t know, Apple AirTags are like tracking devices for your things. While traveling, they’re nice to attach to your overhead or checked bag.
In the rare event that there is a mix-up with your bag and someone else takes it by accident, you can see and track where your bag is, using your AirTags.
For crowded flights, where your bag might be stored in a different part of the airplane, this can give you peace of mind that you can track down who took your bag in the event of that rare occurrence.
They work by using other iPhones to help locate your bag, so they work the best in crowded areas where other iPhones are around.
I don’t know how Becca (or I) would travel without a fanny pack. Because Becca has one and uses it during our travel days, I’ll usually keep important things like my passport and maybe some money with her.
She keeps everything in there, like tissues, pens, plastic silverware, phones and so on. She has tried quite a few fanny packs throughout the years, and listed the best fanny packs for travel, here.
Fanny packs, or waist packs/hip packs/belt bags help give you quick access to your most important and valuable items so you don’t have to have them too far from you, like under the seat in front of you or overhead.
This is crucial because you can have the fanny pack on your person during an entire long-haul flight, and have all your top valuables in plain sight.
It took me a while to figure out that something as simple as comfy socks could make a huge difference in your flight experience.
Because you can be sitting for a long period of time, a good pair of socks can help your feet breathe, keep them warm and keep them cozy during those “nighttime” flight hours when people are supposed to be sleeping.
I’ve gotten to know the Swiftwick brand and recommend them for this reason! Check out the collection here.
When traveling to different parts of the world, keeping an extra eye on your things is always a good idea. Becca once had a Lonely Planet China book stolen during a flight because she got up to go to the bathroom, and that’s pretty crazy.
If I am traveling with my camera and my laptop, I like to put a small lock on my bag to give me extra security that no one can easily open and snoop around my bags, getting into all my mildly-expensive camera accessories.
If you’re sleeping, or if you’re not near your bags on a flight, it’s really easy for someone to open the overhead and grab something from your bag. Locks make it hard for someone to get in there without you knowing.
After so many flights, I really wish I was wearing something more comfortable than jeans or shorts. Sitting for a long period of time isn’t always the most comfortable. Finding a good pair of pants to wear during a flight can make a huge difference in your comfort levels.
We have an article that talks in much more detail about the best travel pants.
We recommend joggers, as they have pockets, and look decent, but they feel soft, comfy and stretchy like savvy sweatpants.
A passport case doesn’t really help you travel, but it does help protect your passport from spills or accidents that happen inside of your bag or around you while you have your passport out.
Fun story: Becca was once in Laos during the spring new year festival when everyone throws water on each other, and her passport almost got soaked. A passport case or even some type of protective bag would’ve definitely helped out with the stress of the constant water everywhere.
Having a passport case is also a great way to stay organized and keep any additional travel documents, like connection flight tickets, visa information and other IDs all in one place. We keep entry papers, vaccine cards, boarding passes and other documents all inside a shared passport case.
Collapsible/nestable Tupperware or travel food storage
I started bringing my own food to the airport, and it’s been a game-changer.
Living in New York City has a lot of perks. One of my favorite perks is being able to get a sandwich basically at any time. Typically, within a five-block radius, you can probably find a sandwich. It’s delightful.
One time, I brought a sandwich to the airport to bypass needing to spend a lot of money on airport food. I put the sandwich inside of my bag, and lucky me, the sandwich got a little soggy and got my hoodie a little wet. Yikes.
I wish I had a sandwich box or some other more secure bags to keep my sandwich in, and something collapsible and foldable would’ve been amazing.
Becca brought one of our Tupperware containers from home with some nuts and dried fruit. She had a great experience with that, except once the snack was over, the empty Tupperware took up a bit of room in her bag.
Collapsible Tupperware and dining storage is a great solution for being able to bring your own food without needing to carry a lot of bulky food containers with you.
Nestable Tupperware might also work well if you want something more sturdy.
Last updated on May 27th, 2023
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