Packing Hand Luggage for Long Haul Flights

Flying long haul can be a drag, let’s not beat about the bush here. Despite the fact you’ll likely be jetting off on a brilliant holiday, spending eight, ten or twelve hours cooped up in an economy seat thousands of miles in the air isn’t exactly a comfortable experience. I’m heading off to the US tomorrow and in preparation for 13 hours in the air (not including connection times), I thought I’d share some tips on packing hand luggage for long haul flights.
packing hand luggage for long haul flightsBeware of overpacking

There’s a lot of time to kill, sure, but with limited legroom and the fear of annoying other passengers by reaching into the overhead locker all the time, you won’t want to pack a huge carry on. Try to fit everything you need into a medium sized handbag or backpack, leaving room to stretch out your legs while not forgoing any of the essentials.

The essentials

These go without saying. Passport, travel documents like boarding passes, hotel reservations for when you arrive at your destination and any visa information you might need. Carry currency or cards, as well as a toothbrush and spare pair of underwear, in your hand luggage in case of any suitcase mishaps when you arrive.


Need to sleep?

If you’re trying to acclimatise to the time zone you’re travelling to, you may need to doze off on the plane. This all depends on your flight times but we all know that sleeping on a plane can be an impossible task at times. Knowing that I’m a light sleeper, I’ve prepared for the journey by packing a neck pillow and eye mask. Ear plugs also come in handy!


To keep yourself from going crazy, you’ll need some serious in-flight entertainment. Settle down to watch a movie (or three), pack a book, sync some new music to your phone – whatever it takes to get you through the flight. If you can’t stand plane food, add a couple of snacks. Many people suggest nuts or fruit and make sure you buy a decent sized bottle of water at the airport.

Beauty bits

I’ve watched YouTube videos where people pack their entire skincare routine and makeup bag into their carry on. Let’s not be ridiculous here. Plane air completely dries out your body so prioritize packing a tiny pot of moisturiser and lip balm. Eye drops are also helpful, along with clips and bobbles to keep your hair out of your face while you’re trying to read or sleep. You really don’t need much more than that although I’ve popped in a travel size concealer to erase the dark circles.

To summarise:

  • Passport and travel documents
  • Sleeping aids
  • Entertainment options
  • Snacks and water
  • Toothbrush, lip balm, moisturiser and wipes if necessary to freshen up

Now sit back in your comfiest clothes and get excited for arriving at your destination!

Laura x

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    The Sunday Mode
    April 21, 2017 at 8:53 am

    I used to be someone who read on planes but now I just can’t seem to properly enjoy my book so I go straight for the in-flight movies! Now I just marathon a bunch of films for long haul flights and that way even if I can’t get much sleep the journey seems a lot faster.

    Julia // The Sunday Mode

    • Reply
      April 21, 2017 at 3:32 pm

      I have to admit that I’ve been finding it harder to concentrate on things and end up just staring out of the window! Nothing better than a good film on a long haul flight though 🙂 xx

    What do you think?

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.