What do you pack for a long distance flight on a plane?

UK Working Visa

You have just received your approved UK Working Visa and are about to embark on your first long haul flight - What to pack for the plane?

Back in the day you used to try and stuff as much as you could in your carry-on luggage. No one usually weighed it and it meant you could take more with you for your journey. I was one of those people and after my first long haul flight, having packed nearly 15kg I vowed never to do that again. Lugging it through airports, trying to get it into the overhanging compartment and carrying it around with you while in transit was not only backbreaking but ……. Exhausting!

Now, with health and safety regulations and strict weight rules, what do you take with you on the plane? You might feel unwell, maybe you need some comfort items or perhaps you have a little accident. After flying for nearly 20 years of long haul flights each year to London and Dublin I have it down to a fine art. I’ve flown on nearly all airlines, Qantas, BA, Singapore, Etihad, Emirates, Lufthansa and even Royal Brunei. I’ve been on planes for 21 hours that have no screens in the seat in front, or no screen at all and even small seats. I’ve learned where to sit so you don’t get too disturbed by other passengers and what to take with you for all kinds of different situations.

Firstly, you only need a small bag and if you can challenge yourself to only having a bag weighing 3kg, you are on the right track. I’ve tried a pulley bag as well as a backpack and have found the backpack is for me.

So, what are the essential items for flying:

  • Have two clear plastic bags, these can be the sandwich-sized, Ziplock bags or the small cosmetic bags. I like the see-through ones as this helps you to find what you are looking for without having to empty everything out (and the flight can get pretty dark). One bag will be for your tablets, band aids and tissues and the other is for small liquids.
  • At least TWO masks!! 

The Medicine Bag:

Only pack the prescription medicine or over the counter medicine that you have taken before. NEVER experiment with a new medicine that you have never taken on a plane, not only is this dangerous but inconsiderate to other passengers if suddenly the plane has to land elsewhere because you have gone and had an allergic reaction. You don’t need to take the whole box of medicine and I prefer to even cut the pack in half or just cut out one or two of them for emergencies. The essential medicines I take with me are:

  • Panadol
  • Ibuprofen – (I suffer from slight back pain and find that this helps me)
  • Gaviscon – a couple of chewable tablets
  • Throat lozenges – just four tablets.
  • Cold and Flu tablets – (I actually became sick on a 10-hour flight to LA, I could feel the headache, the runny nose came on and my throat hurt, I had nothing but Panadol on me and wished that I had packed some cold and flu tablets)
  • Stemetil – just a couple in case I feel nauseated (consult your Doctor on this please)
  • Lomotil – yep, for those very uncomfortable moments when you can’t stop going to the toilet and turbulence is just pure torture (consult your Doctor on this please).
  • Eye mask
  • Earplugs
  • Tissues - small pack (I have been known to have a little cry with some of the sad movies)
  • Two band-aides

Then of course your normal prescription medicine that you need to take, but you don’t need to take the whole box with you so only pack what you need for the flight with one extra in case it falls between the chairs and you can’t reach it. The leftover medicine from the boxes just throw that in your check on language ready for your journey home or if you need it while away on that trip.

The Liquid Bag:

You can get pretty dehydrated on the flight so help your skin by not just drinking water but also hydrate your skin with some moisturiser. The essentials I pack are:

  • Lip balm
  • Hand cream - a small travel size one (this can also be used to put all over your face, so it can be like a two in one)
  • Face cream – put your normal face cream in a small screw-top container that is smaller than the size of the palm
  • Antiseptic gel – yes, planes and airports are the biggest carriers of germs, so whack that stuff on as much as you like.
  • Antiseptic wipes – helps with germs of course, but they are good for any accidents, spills or you just want to freshen up.
  • Small perfume – when you are in a big department store next, grab a couple of the sample perfumes and put them away, they are good to put on especially towards the end of your flight and you just want to smell a bit better.
  • Deodorant – grab a small roll-on deodorant. Always handy.
  • Tooth paste and toothbrush – There are little travel size toothpaste and it really does feel good to give your teeth a bit of a clean during your long flight.

Keep your liquids small in size and only the essentials, you really don’t need eye cream, hair products, foot cream etc. Hand cream is a good all-rounder.

What else to pack:

Pack a pen and small bit of paper, the pen always comes in handy for filling in the landing cards.

A small sized book - If you are a book lover, why not be prepared and grab a book that is light in weight and a small read instead of packing a huge hardcover. I have my books on my phone or iPad now.

Big pair of comfy socks - My feet start to swell on planes and I have found that most airlines don’t hand out the pair of socks anymore, I bring my own and put these on when I’m on the plane over my other socks and then I take them off just before we land and put my shoes back on. I have had more comfortable flights doing this. And if you have smelly feet it helps mask the smell a bit, you can even put some of your sample perfume on them if you are feeling a bit self-conscious.

Last but not least, pack an extra pair of underwear, T-shirt and leggings or yoga pants or light weight gym pants, you may not end up wearing them, but as long as they are easily rolled up, throw them in your bag in case.

And of course your face masks. I recommend that you pack two. 

You are now all packed for your long haul flight. How did you go with the weight of your bag? The name of the game is to keep it 3kgs or under.