9 Things to Bring on a Long-Haul Flight from Hell

This has been a great year for airfare deals to cities around the world, and an easy way to find bargains from your town is by checking the Getaway Map. Maybe you’ll find a deal to an exotic, faraway land, which can mean a long ride on a cramped plane but we can help with that too. Here’s a list of 9 things to bring on a long-haul flight from hell.

1. Thermos for hot or cold drinks

If you like hot coffee or ice water, you know the servings from the beverage cart are never big enough (and on some discount carriers, they’re not even free). Solution: Bring your own insulated mug or slim thermos and fill it up with airport coffee or ask the flight attendant to fill it up once the cart comes around (they don’t have to do this so be sure to say please). Remember, the mug/thermos must be empty at the airport security checkpoint because of the liquid rule so be sure to fill up afterwards.

Tip: Many airports now have water refill stations (located beyond security checkpoints).

2. Electronics

Yes, people still forget to grab their electronics when they head out the door. Go through a mental checklist before you leave: Phone, tablet, laptop, charger cord, portable charger. Do not pack these items in a checked-bag; place them in a carry-on bag or in your pockets so you can get to them easily on the plane.

Tip: Life will be easier if you make sure everything is charged before heading to the airport.

3. Music

There’s nothing like a bunch of favorite tunes to keep you in a happy frame of mind, plus it can help block out unwelcome sounds like screaming babies. FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney says wouldn’t think of stepping on a plane without his noise-canceling headphones.

Tip: Looking for an inspiritational song? Maybe Learn to Fly by the Foo Fighters.

4. Video

Pack your device with movies and TV shows; binge-watching at 30,000 can make a flight feel a lot shorter than it really is. If you’re lucky, your long-haul flight may offer seatback screens with hundreds of free movies.

Tip: Looking for something fun to watch? We still laugh at Airplane!

5. Small comforts of home

These cozy comforts can be found on lots of must-pack lists:

  • Neck pillow
  • Blanket
  • Eye mask (while this didn’t make everyone’s list, many say they are very helpful for sleeping on planes).

Tip: A dwindling number of airlines may still offer blankets in coach but you usually have to pay for them; you can bring your own but a better idea is to use a sweater or jacket you were going to bring anyway.

6. Socks

Thick, compression socks can make your legs feel a lot better, or so say those who don’t fly without them. Might want to ask a health care professional if they’d offer benefits for you.

Tip: Some airlines like United list seat exercises that can help you feel better on a long flight (these include ankle circles, foot pumps and more).

7. Carry-on bag or tote bag

Let’s see, we’ve got electronics, cords, neck pillow, socks – but where to put them? Use a carry-on bag; on many airlines, carry-ons are free so you save on baggage fees, and since a carry-on is a bag that travels by your side, it’s the one bag airlines can’t lose.

Tip: If you must pack a big checked-bag, bring some kind of light-weight tote, too, so the cords and pillows and the rest will be close-by when you need them.

8. Prescriptions of all kinds

If you take prescribed medication, be sure to pack it along with the actual prescription (bring the paper prescription and also take a picture of it with your phone). If you take any over-the-counter medications or sleeping aids, bring that stuff, too. Wear a hearing aid? Bring extra batteries.

Tip: If you wear glasses and/or contacts, be sure to have both with you (and an extra pair of glasses is always a good idea). Have optical prescriptions on your phone, too. Finally, bring a pair of sunglasses, prescription or otherwise; it’s an easy way to be kind to your eyes.

9. Snacks

Fewer flights offer free food in economy class, so bring your own. Suggestions: Sandwiches, granola or power bars, nuts, cookies, carrots, and apples. If traveling with kids, bring food they like (and we are not above bribing little ones with candy for good behavior).

Tip: Here are more suggestions for good food to bring, crappy food to avoid.

Lastly – we hope you have a wonderful flight.

Anne McDermott
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