As much as we all love a good holiday, getting to our destination can sometimes be a hassle, even if travelling in the highest cabin class. There’s lots of preparation that needs to be done beforehand and packing is often left to the last minute. This article aims to ease up that stress and hassle, by providing a complete list of plane essentials that you can rely on ahead of your long-haul trip to make your flight that little bit more luxurious.
To keep things easy, we’ve divided our plane essentials into different categories. Simply select the area you need a helping hand with from the list below and you’ll be all set!
- The Important Stuff Before you Start Packing
- The Plane Essentials!
- Items to Pack to Look and Feel Fabulous When Landing
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The Important Stuff Before you Start Packing
Let’s start with the important stuff. Here is a list of things you can prepare to make your life a little easier on the day of travel. Some may be a little obvious, but for anyone juggling a career and busy family life, it is often the most obvious things that get forgotten. Not only will this list remind you about them, but it will also give handy travel tips and recommendations that you’ll wonder how you survived without.
Make Sure You Sort Out Travel Insurance
We are all guilty of thinking we may not need this, but ALWAYS ensure that you have travel insurance before you get on the plane. This is an absolute travel essential and there are so many reasons for this. Let’s take an example for dramatic effect. You may be tempted to rely on your airline to cover you in the event of your flight being cancelled, BUT your airline will not cover you for incidents defined as force majeures, like a snowstorm on the way to your ski trip or a gale force winds over the Caribbean.
Travel insurance will cover you for the unexpected, whether that be an accident or illness, lost or stolen goods, trip cancellations, and much more.
Organise Airport Transfers
Of course, this is not for everyone. Some may prefer to take public transport or drive themselves to the airport. Whilst sometimes there is no other option available, an airport transfer with a reputable company will make life SO MUCH EASIER. If the car is booked at the right time, there is no need to worry about leaving your home late or not getting to the airport on time. As someone who is perpetually late for flights (and have missed a fair few), I know that there is no time to mess around when a car is waiting for me outside. This is a subconscious nudge that I need to get my act together and leave the house on time.
It also saves the hassle of driving, or having to sort out parking on arrival. The money spent on parking may even be higher than what an airport transfer may cost. Skyscanner offers a handy tool to compare the cost of airport transfers, wherever you are located.
Prepare Your Travel Documents and Foreign Currency in Advance
Check your travel documents at the time you book your flight. Make sure that your passport is not due to expire before your holiday starts and that you know where it is. I confess – it wouldn’t be the first time that I’m due to travel, yet cannot recall where I last put my passport. Irresponsible, admittedly, but there are those times when there is so much going on that the most obvious things become the least obvious.
After booking your flights, make sure to put your passport in a safe place and check the expiry date. If unsure, you should also check if you need a visa for your destination on reliable sites such as CIBT. If all is well, set a reminder on your phone for the night before flying, to take out your passport and place it where you will see it on the way out.
Your passport is not the only thing you will need. Depending on where you are visiting, you may also need to pick up some foreign currency (as is the case in developing countries like Uzbekistan). This is becoming less and less important as more places accept payment by card. In instances where cash is needed however, you can withdraw from ATMs a lot cheaper than in the past. Travellers are now able to withdraw from ATMs without paying hefty fees for conversion and cash withdrawal charges through platforms like Revolut.
Take Out the Luggage!
Depending on the flight tickets you booked, you’ll need to pack either carry-on or check-in luggage – you may even opt to take both! Whatever your preference, it’s totally up to you and your ticket how many pieces you choose to check-in. Some prefer to check-in absolutely everything (even small carry-ons), whilst others prefer not to check-in anything at all and just pack everything into a carry-on.
For me personally, whether or not I’m travelling with check-in luggage, I always choose to check-in my carry-on bag. I find that most airports are so efficient with getting the luggage out nowadays that I prefer to just carry a tote hand bag with the essentials (more on that later), without having to worry about how much liquid I’m carrying. Whatever your preference, here are some of my favourite luggage pieces that belong in every traveller’s wardrobe! Some are pricier than others, but if you invest in a great piece of luggage it will last you for years!
Lay Out Comfortable Travel Clothes
To minimise stress on the day of travel, lay out your travel clothes from the night before. The general consensus is to travel in comfortable clothing that will make your journey as pleasant as possible. My advice? Wear whatever you feel good in. I have travelled in both flip flops and high heels, and don’t mind either! I will confess that flying in heels is a lot more comfortable when in the higher cabins, when the airline provides slippers and pyjamas to change into!
The Plane Essentials!
Ok so that’s the adult part out of the way. Before you begin to pack, let’s start with the apps that you NEED to download to make your travel life just that little bit easier!
The Apps to Download Ahead of a Flight
Modern day technology means that new apps are constantly being created and launched to add value to our lives in some way (Candy Crush and Crazy Birds – I’m not talking about you). Here are 5 apps I recommend downloading, both for use prior to your flight AND for use on the plane.
- TripIt: How I travelled without this app in the past is a mystery to me – it is absolutely genius. The app syncs with your inbox and in some magical high-tech way, it extracts all of your travel info and organises it into an easy digestible itinerary on your phone without you having to lift a finger. Gone are the days when you frantically have to search through your inbox to pull up the information you need (and start panicking when service suddenly stops…) – TripIt eliminates all of that. Best of all, it won’t cost you a penny!
- LoungeBuddy: A fantastic app if travelling on an economy ticket. LoungeBuddy provides detailed information on over 2,500 lounges around the world. Once you insert your flight details and airline status, it will advise you which lounges you have access too. If none, it will provide a list of lounges where you can purchase a day pass.
- Audible: the well-known app that allows you to download and listen to audiobooks. This is perfect if you don’t want to carry an actual book or your Kindle. All you need to do is download the audiobook ahead of your flight and bring your noise cancelling headphones. As a side note, if you’re heading off to a beach destination, be sure to check out our article on the best beach reads for this summer.
- DuoLingo: because there is no better time than a long flight to brush up on a new language, particularly if you’ll need it for the country you are visiting. All you need is your phone and those noise canceling headphones.
- Facial Yoga Guru: if you’re on a long plane ride with not much else to do, why not have a go at some facial yoga to tone your face muscles and improve blood circulation. This app will guide you on some simple and short exercises of face and neck so that you can get off the plane looking fresh and radiant!
The Practical Stuff
- Mobile Phone and Charger: Bit of an obvious one here. I very rarely print my boarding pass and almost always keep this on my phone. It’s therefore a must that I bring my mobile charger with me in my tote. I also find that a lot of the newer planes have sockets and USB ports, even on short haul flights.
- Portable Charger: And yet, there are still planes which do not yet have sockets and for this reason, this portable charger will come in handy.
- Laptop and Charger: Plane rides are where I get most done, in fact I love them for this reason! Long-haul or short haul, you can be sure my laptop and charger will be packed in my tote bag.
- Outlet Splitter: If you need to charge your laptop, mobile and any other gadget you’ve brought along for your flight, you might want to consider investing in an outlet splitter. Not only is this handy to have on the plane, but at airports too. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say there are never enough sockets in terminals or lounges!
- A Water Bottle: Because plastic bottles are just a bad idea. Instead, use a trendy water bottle like this marble one and continue to refill from water fountains at the airport. Some air stewards may even agree to fill this for you on the plane.
- Chewing Gum: This will help with your ears when you take off and land. Since we are already being careful with our plastic waste by using a refillable water bottle, try opting for a chewing gum that is biodegradable and contains no plastic (yes, the gum you buy likely includes plastic!). Chewy is a great alternative and is vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free, dairy free and non-GMO. An all-round winner!
Keep Your Seat Area Clean
The next two items are also short or long haul flight essentials for ensuring that your seat and table are bacteria free. Whilst this is normally important, it has became particularly important in the current environment, and when we are allowed to travel again once the pandemic is over.
- Antibacterial Wipes: Think about that moment of sheer disgust when you see someone pick their nose and then touch the touch-screen TV. Or that moment where someone goes to the bathroom and you just know there is no way they could have washed their hands in that time? And so, since no one wants traces of someone else’s urine on their fingertips, as soon as you reach your seat, pull out the antibacterial wipes and start wiping. Wipe everything. The arm rests (if applicable), the in-flight remote control, the top and bottom of the fold out tray, the screen (if applicable again) and any other surface that you’ll need to touch. These wipes are both biodegradable and antibacterial and kill antibiotic resistant MRSA, E.coli, salmonella, rotavirus and flu virus (H1N1), as well as 90% of all allergens.
- Antibacterial Hand Gel: Also be sure to pack some antibacterial hand gel and use it when in the airport and on the flight. This will be need to be packed in with your liquids, so just ensure your bottle is under 100ml.
Comfort is Key
Your cabin class is going to have a lot to do with this, but only the first plane essential in this list need be used by economy passengers alone. The rest can be used and enjoyed no matter what cabin class you are flying, and will help make your flight a little bit more comfortable.
- A Neck Pillow: whilst not quite a substitute for a fully flat bed, a neck pillow can help make your long haul flight that little bit more comfortable. Trtl pillows come highly recommended by thousands of travellers. They are scientifically proven to hold the head in a more ergonomic position than a standard memory foam travel pillow.
- Compression Socks: whether flying in economy, club or first class, compression socks can be incredibly useful for swelling. They also promote circulation and blood flow from your lower legs to your heart, which is very much needed on those long haul flights. Traditionally, these were known to be quite frumpy, but not any more! Now, many new brands have launched with the aim of modernising and putting some fun into the standard compression socks. A great example is Physix Gear Compression Socks, the current #1 best seller on Amazon.
- Sleep Masks: again, this may be provided to you by the airline depending on the cabin class, but why not treat yourself to a black-out silk sleep mask like that by Swanwick Sleep. This luxurious mask is oversized to keep out the light and made of 100% pure silk. You won’t find this eye mask in a standard amenities kit.
- Moisure Gloves: When it’s time to turn off the in-flight entertainment and try to get some shut eye, don’t forget to apply some hand cream. You may have been using your antibacterial hand gel frequently on the flight, so give your hands some TLC by applying a thick layer of hand cream and popping on some moisture gloves before you fall asleep.
- Sleeping Aid: And for that extra helping hand in getting to sleep, you might want to pick up a sleeping aid such as This Works Deep Pillow Spray. This is available as both a spray to spritz on your travel pillow or a handy roll-on to roll on your pulse points. Made with essential oils, these products help to alleviate stress and encourage deep sleep that will leave you feeling fresh and rejuvenated once awake.
Items to Pack to Look and Feel Fabulous When Landing
- Toothbrush and Toothpaste: Just because the toothbrushes you are given on the plane are by no means great.
- Skin Care: we all know that flying is a dehydrating experience so it’s important to drink as much water as you can. Equally important is to keep your skin nicely hydrated. If flying in the higher cabins, you will be provided with a little amenities kit that generally includes moisturisers and eye cream, but the honest truth is 39,000ft up in the air is not the best time to be trying new skin care. Instead, put some of your regular skin care product into little jars or old contact lens cases and pack them in with your toiletries. Use those little samples you get in the amenities kit when your regular skin care runs out and you’re looking to try something new.
- Hand Cream and Nail File: We’ve already spoken about why hand cream is a good idea, but you may also want to pack a nail file so that you can take care of any nails that break on your travels.
- Dyson Corrale Hair Straighteners: the Captain has just made that long-awaited announcement that you are approaching your destination, and it’s time to sort out your plane hair. Enter the new Dyson Corrale CORDLESS hair straighteners. Weighing a super light 500g and sold in a heat-resistant travel pouch, the newly-released Corrale is the perfect addition to your carry-on luggage or tote bag. They’ll allow you to iron out any kinks or fix those tousled curls so that you can step off the plane looking like a superstar.
- Hair Brush and Any Hair Accessories
- Perfume: this may not be for everyone, but to me personally, if I’m not wearing perfume, I’m not fully dressed. Just before landing, head over to the bathroom and spritz yourself with something fabulous. At the moment, I’m rotating different Thameen perfumes and they just smell divine. With each purchase, they are also incredibly generous with samples, which are perfect for travel.
For more tips on how to survive long-haul flights, be sure to check out advice given by ex-flight attendant Catrina, from 24 Hour Layover.
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