It’s almost time for another long-haul plane trip – this time it’s a whopping 12 hours from London Gatwick to Costa Rica’s Liberia Airport. So what will I be packing in my essential carry-on kit?
Noise cancelling headphones
I used to make do with normal in-ear headphones and wonder why I couldn’t hear a thing over the noise of the engines. Until I gave Mr Fletche’s noise-cancelling headphones a whirl. Now I understood how he could sit back in contentment listening to his music from the time we took off to the moment we landed (not one for plane conversation, Mr Fletche). I had a pair as a Christmas present in 2016, and had to wait all the way until our Canada trip in 2017 to try them out properly. And the difference was huge. I never bother with headphones for short-haul flights but as I’m unable to sleep on planes it’s nice on an overnight flight to just listen to music or a podcast, or to watch films properly without having to lip-read.
I use these ones which are an incredible £24.99 from Amazon, and are perfect for my needs! And these are the ones that Mr Fletche now uses after leaving his original ones on the train in Canada last year…
I’ve always been a vociferous reader, usually with at least two books on the go at any one time. As much as I love the feel and smell of a real, physical book, it’s not practical to pack 11 books (the number I got through on my honeymoon) which is why a Kindle is a godsend. I’ve used a Kindle HD Fire over the last few years, but unfortunately it’s on its way out now, randomly turning itself on and off at frequent intervals. So I’ve gone back to my original Kindle – one which you only have to charge once a month. There’s no backlight, which means reading in lowlight does become a bit of a headache (literally) but I know this Kindle, pre-loaded with books, will last for the whole flight – and probably for the duration of the holiday and the flight home too!
With all these gadgets, and a long flight, the last thing you want to do is run out of juice. I always carry at least one USB cable and plug in my hand luggage to take advantage of charging points at the airport (and a travel adaptor for wherever I’m headed!) but what about when there’s no sockets handy? That’s where a portable charger comes in handy – just make sure that’s charged up too! You can buy a slimline charger like this one for less than a tenner or a dual portable charger for just a little bit more!
Lip Balm and Hand Cream
Air travel is so dehydrating on the skin – I feel myself shrivelling up as soon as I set foot on an airplane! With liquid and gel restrictions in place, you need to make sure that any lotions or creams you bring with you are under 100ml. I’m a huge fan of Sanctuary Spa hand cream as it smells nice and sinks in easily, and I usually have a tube in whichever handbag I have with me at the time. You can get a handy travel-sized version from Superdrug. When it comes to lip balms, I swear by Nivea, who do them with a pretty sheen for a slick of colour whilst keeping your lips soft and kissable! And if you’re off to sunnier climes, make sure you pick up a lip balm with an SPF too (but avoid those ones that slick a neon block of colour across your face… suitable only for surfers and cricketers)
Big Blanket Type scarf
No matter how hot or cold your destination, one thing is for sure – the aircon will be ramped up to Arctic levels (unless you’re stuck on a plane runway in LA in 40 degree heat when the aircon is most definitely NOT working…I speak from experience). Which is why layers will be your best friend if you’re travelling to a hot destination, and a snuggly hoodie is a great airplane travel cover-up – I have one I love from F&F by Tesco but can’t link to as they no longer have an online store. If you’re travelling somewhere cooler then a blanket-type scarf is perfect for taking the chill off your arms, and also doubles up as a pillow. Or tie it round your head like a big tartan eyemask. I’m a big fan of this one from New Look at the moment, although I’m guessing a blanket scarf won’t be required in Costa Rica so I’ll make do with my F&F hoodie instead.
When it comes to keeping yourself toasty warm on a long-flight I believe you need to work from the bottom up. Not THAT bottom you filthy lot. It all starts with the feet. If you’re a savvy packer you’re probably wearing your heaviest shoes so as soon as you’re settled in your seat, kick them off and pop on some cosy socks. Your feet will thank you for it. But you may want to put your shoes back on for the inevitable bathroom visit.
And if you’re worried about the effects of long-haul flights on your blood circulation, you could always get a pair of sexy compression socks. I’ve discovered these come in all sorts of funky colours and patterns now so you no longer need to look like you’re preparing for a surgical procedure.
My Trtl travel pillow is certainly more comfortable than those horseshoe-shaped things that look like a tiny inflatable loo seat. You wrap it around your neck like a scarf, keeping the rigid part on whichever side is comfortable and secure it with velcro. At £25 it’s not the cheapest travel pillow option, but it’s worth if for the small shred of increased comfort. Especially if like me you swear you can’t sleep on planes but then find your head flopping all over the place as you doze off for just a second. This isn’t an ad for Trtl (although…hi Trtl marketing people!) but I’d definitely recommend!
What do you pack to make air travel a little comfier? And any top tips of coping with an overnight flight when you’re not great at sleeping on planes?
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click one of my links and then complete a purchase – even if it’s not something I have recommended. And this is at no extra cost to you! Please check out my disclosure policy for more details. Thank you for your support!
I’m Emmalene, a 40 something with a passion for travel, theatre, food, drink and the occasional accidental hike! I’m a born-and-bred Birmingham native so expect lots of Brum content on here too…