carry on for long flight

Ultimate long flight carry on packing list

Getting ready for a long haul flight? If you’re like me, you want to knock out any anxiety and “what if’s” by giving yourself the most comfort, security and accessibility as possible.

Read on for my recommended long haul carry on survival pack list and how to travel as comfortable as possible during an 8 hour flight or longer. (Totally applies to short flights too)

Before we get started, I consider a long haul flight a 3 part packing process. It sounds daunting, but it isn’t:

  1. What you carry on yourself
  2. What your carry on bag contains, and
  3. What your removable in flight survival bag contains (this is key for comfort)

Why have a removable in-flight survival bag? Because you want room to stretch your legs under the seat in front of you AND have all of your valuables and the amenities that you need at your disposal.

STEP ONE: What to carry on your body for a long flight?

If you want to feel safe and know that your valuables are not going to be stolen or lost, you will want to invest in some sort of hidden pocket garment, such as a coat, cardigan, hoodie, pants or scarf which has a zippered or hidden pocket.

For me that is a scarf with a hidden pocket big enough to fit my cash, cards and passport and also doubles as extra comfort to keep me cozy and warm on long flights. You can get one just like mine here.They’re actually made for hot and cold weather, so you can get multiple colors and options and feel good about your purchase!

You will want to split up your important documents, payment cards and cash between 3 places:

  1. Scarf (or other hidden pocket garment) should store 60% of your money PLUS 1-2 credit/debit cards
  2. Pants should store the remainder of your cash and possibly your passport depending on your likelihood to carry option 3 below:
  3. Use small purse (preferably cross body strap, or phone case with pocket such as the Bandolier to carry any other credit/debit cards and passport for easy retrieval within the airport. — What is so great about the Bandolier? You can get an add on pouch to carry more and still have a lightweight option for travel!

If you know your seat assignment, you will want to put your money and cards on the side of your body that will either be facing the window or the aisle, not another person. This allows you to sleep or de-stress without worry.

STEP TWO: What to pack in your carry on bag

In my opinion, a carry on should be big enough to carry your must have items, essentials and important documents, not your entire wardrobe for the week. Keep this small and accessible. For this reason, I love the backpack. A great bag makes all of the difference in your comfort getting your items to and from the gate as well as easy storage in limited overhead bins

I love the Kanken Laptop 15″ by Fjallraven

Designed for carrying a heavy load, it distributes weight evenly alleviating any shoulder or back pain. The easily accessible laptop compartment and added seat cushion give you options for comfort in places you may need it. (Roll up cushion on floor for a head pillow in a pinch).

Add a cool wood bag tag to keep it safe should it get lost for any reason.

world map wood luggage tag
Wood luggage tag with world map

Inside the carry on bag pack the essentials for your trip:

  • Copies of credit cards/bank cards WITH 4 digit security pins. International travel purchases may require your pin for all purchases
  • Important contact information: embassy contact information and hotel or car reservations
  • copy of travel insurance and contact information
  • copy of passport

STEP THREE: Pack your in-flight survival bag (this will be placed in your carry on and removed when seating)

The best in flight bag is small enough to sit with you in your seat, but pack neatly into your carry on.

I like the Pantheon Toiletry Organizer because it’s big enough to hold your things, but small enough to tuck easily at the top of your carry on for easy removal. It also comes with a convenient hook for hanging in use.

This secondary bag will allow you to have the things you want during flight at your disposal and also removes anything from under the seat in front of you, giving you plenty of leg room.

In the in-flight survival bag, I recommend the following as a starting point:

  • Eye mask – for sleeping or ignoring a chatty neighbor
  • Cozy socks – for comfort and relaxation. Yes, kick off your shoes, you’re going to be here a while
  • Compression Socks, if you require them.
  • Travel sized tooth brush and tooth paste – to freshen up before sleeping and in the morning before getting off the plane (or however your schedule works)
  • Face cleaner wipes and body wipes to clean and freshen, 1 or 2 placed in a zip lock bag to save on space
  • Chap stick – planes are known to dehydrate. You’ll want to drink lots of water and bring chap stick
  • Eyeliner (or important makeup needed to freshen up before disembarking— keep this light)
  • Advil or other pain killer for headaches and/or sleeping pill (only what you think you will need in 8 hours or the length of your flight)
  • Any adapters or cords needed to plug into entertainment screen (some airlines require adapters to plug head phones into their entertainment system. Here, you can get a Bose Headphones Airline Adapter)
  • Any other toiletries you may need for an overnight flight such as tampons, medicine, eyewear, etc.
  • 1 energy bar — because the food may be terrible or you may just be hungry and need a boost. ( I love the LUNA BAR Chocolate Peppermint for an indulgent treat)

Day of travel

When you get to your seat, pull out your headphones, book/magazine, computer, phone and the little survival in-flight bag you packed for yourself. Put everything else up in the carry-on over head storage and forget about it. Tuck your electronics into the seat back and clip your little bag to the seat back using a Carabiner Clip.

Once your settled, kick off your shoes, place on your cozy socks, have a glass of wine and relax with your noise canceling headphones and eye mask.

You’ll thank yourself for being so laid back and prepared. Enjoy your trip!

NOTE: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

There are links on this page and site that can be defined as “affiliate links”. This means that I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you) if you subscribe or purchase something through the links provided.

Jessica Wilkeson is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for website owners to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to,, and any other website that may be affiliated with Amazon Service LLC Associates Program.

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top