Soph’s Carry On Essentials.

What is the longest flight you’ve ever been on?

For me, it was the time I flew from London Heathrow to Raleigh, North Carolina. However, I was a shy and quiet eleven year old travelling with my Gran as part of a big group so I don’t really remember the in’s and out’s of my first and only long haul flight – let alone the prep I went through to ensure I was going to entertained and well rested once I touched down on the other side.

Now, as a shy and quiet twenty-five year old, it’s time for my next long haul flight. 3 more sleeps and it’s time for a well deserved two week break from the lab for me as I head to Barbados to simply relax and probably drink far too much rum.

But before I can land in this Caribbean paradise, I need to deal with the long haul flight. As I am starting to pack both my hold and hand luggage, for today’s post I thought I could write up a list of my carry on essentials to make long-haul flights (or a short 2 hour flight!) that little bit more bearable.

carry on


Backpack – I have chosen a trusty backpack as my carry on luggage, but if you have a good tote bag that is just as good. Backpacks are better for me as they are easier to carry especially if your hand luggage ends up getting a bit heavy. Plus there are many different pockets to store your travel essentials in easier to reach places ready for security and keep it away from the bulk. This backpack is from New Look if you want to invest.



Passport and boarding passΒ – A pretty obvious one! But your passport and boarding pass need to be in your hand luggage! So don’t forget them!

Money – I like to keep some GBP in my carry on for use at the airport, but I also store some of the currency Β of my destination in my carry on in case your hold luggage gets lost, plus it’s also easier to access if you need to grab a taxi or bus once you get to the other side.

Small wallet – Obviously we don’t want money just lying around in your bag. You need something to store it in! I never bring my every day purse with me on holiday to save loosing all my cards. Instead I have a much smaller wallet that is much more manageable for my trip.


Sleep and Comfort

Neck Pillow – If you’re like me, then no matter how long the flight is, I always end up falling asleep. All the trips I’ve been on in the last few years, I have only brought hand luggage so have a suitcase rather than a backpack as my carry on but it is full of clothes and everything I need for those few days. So normally I don’t have room for a neck pillow and just resort to having a pain in the neck. But for a long haul flight, there is room for this essential travel accessory to make that nap more comfortable. My neck pillow is a memory foam one from Primark πŸ™‚

Top neck pillow tip: rather than putting the neck pillow behind your head, put it on the opposite way which will stop your head from lolling forward and waking you up suddenly.

Eye Mask – a travel essential to block out all light and help getting your head down that bit easier. But you don’t want it being too tight around your head. Some airlines supply eye masks depending on what class you are travelling so that might be worth checking out before purchasing. My flight to Barbados supplies one so I haven’t bought one this time.

Layers – It is a well known fact that airplane cabins can get quite cold. So, chuck in a scarf or a cardigan or whatever layers suit you. Usually something that is easy to throw on and take off. Plus it will come in handy if you’re coming home to the UK from a hot country that you can throw on again for some warmth once landing back on the green, green grass of home.

Change of clothes – Probably me being a bit paranoid with this one, but I like having a change of clothes in my carry on to either freshen up during your flight or just in case your hold luggage gets lost in translation. Plus it doubles as extra layers πŸ™‚

Sunglasses – A long haul flight can take a lot out of you and you can open disembark the plane with tired eyes. So sunglasses are a quick fix to hide those tired eyes. Plus its handy to have them within easy reach once you step out into the sunshine of your destination.


Entertainment and Work

Laptop – I am not the usual person to get my laptop or tablet out on a flight, especially as airplanes nowadays have so much in flight entertainment choice. But it is a travel essential that most people use to keep them entertained or get some work done when they’re in the air.

Headphones – Noise cancelling ones are the best option, but any are good for immersing yourself in that film you are watching or the music that is sending you to sleep. Over ear headphones are my preferred choice just for comfort but in ear ones are also available. My ones are from Sony in metallic blue! Plus they are fold-able which is only a bonus when squeezing them into your carry on.

Camera – My cameras are my pride and joy and I live for taking photos of my memories. So I would not be comfortable if they weren’t in my possession on my trip. They are more protected and also in easy reach in case you need to snap those awesome views from the plane window.

Phone – for entertainment purposes or in case of an emergency, your phone needs to be in close proximity. Just don’t do what I did and remember to take it out of your pocket before walking through the metal detector at security.

Books – If you’re fed up of staring at screens watching TV shows and films or playing games, then maybe you want to turn to a good old book. I’m not the most avid reader normally but I do love to sink my teeth into a good book when on holiday. For this trip, I am reading Dan Brown’s Inferno which I can hopefully finish so I can finally watch the movie, and I’m bringing Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone with me to immerse me back in the magical world of Harry Potter.


Beauty and Brightening

Toothpaste and toothbrush – A simple fix to freshen up! Again this is something that some airlines might supply in flight so check out the details before your board!

Baby wipes – If you want to slap on the make up before the flight to take those all important airport selfies then go ahead! But I think it is really important for your skin to take it off for the flight. Let your skin breathe and stop it drying out. Baby wipes can do this for you, plus they double up if you want a quick freshen up in the loo mid-flight.

Lip balm – a travel essential to avoid your lips drying out during the flight.

Hair accessories – I have always got bobbles, slides and clips in my carry on to fix any ‘bed hair’ once you reach your destination to look fabulous again! A baseball cap or beanie is also a cool and easy way to hide any bad flight hair!

Make Up – So I might have told you to take it off, but you might want to bring it with you to slap on once you are about to land. I’m talking some tinted moisturiser, some mascara and some lipstick. Simple but enough to make me feel more human after sitting in that seat for a few hours.

Perfume – A quick freshen up with your baby wipes followed by a quick spritz of a travel sized perfume and you are good to go again!


Food and Drink

Water bottle – commercial airplanes have very low humidity in the cabin so keeping your skin and body hydrated is really important. I highly recommend popping an EMPTY Β refillable water bottle in carry on and filling it up once you’ve got through security. It might mean extra trips to the loo, but drinking lots of water on your flight can help fight jet lag and fatigue, plus it helps your skin.

Gum – An easier solution to freshen up your breath if you forgot or don’t have a toothbrush and toothpaste.

Snacks – An easy solution to those mid flight munchies between meals. Because you don’t want to be hungry thousands of miles up in the air.


Now it’s over to you:

What’s the longest flight you’ve ever been on?

And what were some of your carry on essentials for that flight?



Take a virtual trip around the world with me by following me and Soph talks travel! onΒ Facebook,Β TwitterΒ andΒ Instagram. Please add your travel tips and experiences to the comments below too πŸ™‚ Let’s enjoy better travel together!Β 




One thought on “Soph’s Carry On Essentials.

  1. Great tips!

    I’ve had some long travel days (over 30 hours with layovers), and my three essentials are snacks, kindle, and noise-cancelling headphones.


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