12 Hand Luggage Essentials – Everything You Need for Long Haul Flights

If there is one thing that I have learnt from years of travelling, it is that packing your hand luggage bag is a fine art. It is so easy to overpack, pack trivial things or forget important items. This is usually because we spend more of our packing energy on our main luggage – why wouldn’t we though? That bag is carrying the majority of our clothes and the things we need right? Well, even though the clothes and shoes may be necessary, the most essential travel items we could ever need are actually in our hand luggage bag. While all of us have different ideas of what is important and irrelevant, I’ve found that even for different people, there are certain things that one should never forget to pack in their hand luggage. Your hand luggage bag is your in-case-of-emergencies bag. This is because you keep it with you at all times and should there be a disaster with your luggage (touch wood that nothing does happen, but you never know with airports and international travel), you have a little emergency bag to keep you afloat. So on that note, here is my hand luggage packing list that has never let me down and will have everything you need for long haul flights and travel.

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Passport and travel docs

This one might seem a bit obvious, but the truth is that you can’t go anywhere without your passport. If anything this is probably the most important thing to remember to pack because, without it, you may find yourself waiting at the airport for a lift home instead of jet-setting off to your holiday location. Make sure before you travel that you have all the right visas and documents (and that your passport and visas have not expired!) and double check that you have packed them all before you leave the house. At least that way, if you have nothing else, you’ll still be able to go overseas.

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Another one that is quite obvious again. If all else fails and you lose all of your luggage and everything you have brought, as long as you have your wallet you can replace it (Ideally you don’t want to have to replace everything, but if you have your wallet, you at least have the option to). Your wallet is also a crucial thing to pack because of everything in it – bank cards which have money, and either your ID or your driver’s license. The reason why having that form of identification with you and in your wallet is essential is because you usually don’t want to be carrying around something as important as your passport. Then again, everyone has a personal preference, but the point I am trying to make is if you only pack two things, let them be your passport and your wallet.

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Chargers and adapters

Packing chargers is something that you can often overlook because you pack your device and think “Right that is done.” Don’t make that mistake. When you put your device into your bag, make sure that you pack it with the corresponding charger. Don’t even think about putting that laptop into your bag without the charger, because the last thing you want to do is arrive wherever you are and have to hunt down a specific charger to power your dying device (buying chargers overseas can also be costly, which is never a good thing). Another common item to overlook is an adapter. Usually, the country you are travelling to won’t have the same type of plug sockets you have at home, and you don’t want to get that nasty surprise when you arrive at a hotel tired and with a dead cell phone only to find that you can’t plug it in. Do a little research beforehand and either pack or buy an adapter before you leave, to save yourself the hassle.

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Have you ever had those aeroplane headsets on for more than thirty minutes? If the answer is yes, then I am sure you will remember how dreadfully uncomfortable they were and how they left your ears sore and your head ringing. How to avoid this is to pack your own headphones. That way you get the advantage of using comfortable equipment to listen to whatever music or movie you have on, and you can drown out the often headache-inducing ambience of the aeroplane (crying babies for example). Just don’t forget to pack one of those headphone adapters, so that you can plug them in right.

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Non-electronic entertainment

Sometimes we don’t all get lucky – either we end up with a dodgy entertainment monitor or we are in the bulkhead row (even though this is great for leg room), or we don’t have entertainment on the particular flight. Now you are ‘stuck’ without something to pass the time, especially during takeoff and landing when electronics aren’t even really allowed. How I solve this problem is by packing a good book or my journal. That way, no one can tell you to ‘switch it off’, and you don’t need any equipment for it to work. Whatever your preference is, be it a book, magazine, sudoku or journal, bring some non-electronic entertainment along. You never know when you might need it.

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Jersey or giant scarf

Aeroplanes can often be quite cold, and there is nothing worse than trying to get a few hours sleep when you can’t stop shivering, and the only warmth you have is from the scratchy blanket they provided for you. I always pack an extra jersey, but lots of people bring a giant scarf or shawl to wrap around themselves. Not only does this give you an extra level of comfort but it also keeps the cold drafts from hitting you, and you can have a relatively peaceful and restful flight.

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A change of clothes

A change of clothes is a good thing to pack for several reasons. First, it gives you something to change into when you land so that you don’t feel all icky from being in the same clothes for so long (and after being on a flight for however many hours with all the people and the body odour and and and). Second, turbulence always seems to arrive at the worst possible moments, like when you are about to take a bite of your plane meal. The next thing you know you have a blob of unidentified sauce on your only shirt. If you have a change of clothes, you are prepared for when disaster happens, but also if you just want to look and feel fresh when you land.

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A Pen

There are always pesky forms to fill out when you are travelling, whether it be immigration forms or landing cards. Sometimes, there are also essential things that you need to jot down. Having a pen handy means that you don’t need to scramble around looking for one or use the dodgy ones at the airport that rarely work. Take this advice from a stationery addict and just never go anywhere, especially when travelling, without a pen in your bag.

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Travel pillow

This one is more a personal preference, but a lot of people never leave for a trip without packing a travel pillow. This is because if you are trying to sleep on a plane, those chairs are almost impossible to rest your head against and the pillow they give you is almost non-existent it is so thin. A travel pillow, like the giant scarf, gives you an extra level of comfort that can hopefully help you pass the hours by allowing you to get a few hours of sleep. Even if you don’t sleep, those travel pillows can make such a difference to how your neck feels the next day so I’d recommend investing in one if you don’t have already. If you do have one, make sure it ends up in your bag because no matter how you use it, your body will thank you the next day.

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Battery bank

Sometimes you are lucky enough to be on a flight where every chair has a USB port where you can charge your phone during the flight. Sometimes though, you are not lucky. Packing a battery bank is essential for me because it is that little safety net that if your phone happens to die, you aren’t stranded with no communication (and this can be for when you are in the middle of your holiday, not just in the travel stage). This isn’t a huge deal if you forget, but if you are an anxious person who likes to be in control and has communication access all the time, then I’d recommend adding a battery bank to your hand luggage packing list.

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Tiny toiletries

Being on an aeroplane and travelling are not necessarily the most hygienic experiences. Spending hours on a plane after eating and sweating and being surrounded by other people’s germs and body odour is also not great for our hygiene levels. This is why I’d recommend packing a few tiny toiletries to pack in your hand luggage bag. Deodorant is a good one so you can give yourself a spritz of freshness after hours in a confined space with other people. Toothbrush and toothpaste are also good (even though long haul flights usually provide this for you) so that you can have fresh breath when you arrive at your destination. Some other helpful ones are a hairbrush and extra hair elastics (because for some reason hair always gets so knotty on flights and hair elastics tend to disappear into thin air), or even just some hand or face cream to keep the inflight dryness away. It is different for every person but having some of these will definitely help you feel more fresh and glamorous when you arrive at your destination.

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Food! The most important thing of all, we couldn’t possibly forget it. Snacks are critical to surviving long flights because sometimes you just need something sweet or salty to nibble on while you mindlessly watch another movie. Snacks are also important because sometimes it is so long between meals (either on the plane itself or between your last meal at home and the next time you eat) and your body needs a little extra sustenance. So, before you hop on your flight and while you are waiting for your boarding time, pop into one of the stores and stock up on your favourite snacks. You’ll thank me for this one when you are 30 000 feet in the air and craving something other than a tiny little bag of over-salted plane pretzels.

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So there you have it. With this list in hand, you would never (at least I hope so) be unprepared for a long haul flight. At least where hand luggage is concerned. As always though, everything is personal and everyone has their own preferences so adapt this list to suit you (even though most of these items are relatively generic, so you don’t have to put much individualising work into it). Is there anything I have missed though? If I have, or you have your own items that you do not leave without having in your hand luggage bag, then please let me know in the comments section. I hope you enjoyed this blog and that if you use it the next time you travel, it makes your life a little bit easier and less stressful. Please don’t forget to like and subscribe if you liked this post, and share with your friends who might be travelling and could use this list. Happy travels everyone! (and a Happy belated Easter)

Lots of Love

Blondey on a Mission xxx

Author: blondeyonamission

Hey everyone! I'm a lifestyle and travel blogger from South Africa and about to relocate to the UK for university. My blog is all about stories, tips and advice with topics ranging from university, organisation, friends, books, travel and more. Please check it out and I hope you enjoy xxx

2 thoughts

  1. Thanks Blondey,
    Tips noted and filed away should I ever travel again?? oopps am flying to Namibia in a couple of days and on my own for the 1st time in 23 years, a little nervous as have had my hubby to lead, now my eldest Grandson just going to drop me off at the airport like a piece of baggage??? hahaha

    Liked by 1 person

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