In-Flight Essentials to Make Long Flights Suck Less

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In a day and age where seats keep getting smaller and service seems to keep getting worse, air travel has ceased to be fun – or even pleasant.

And I don't know if there's anything worse than a long-haul flight in a cramped economy seat.

But, as any frequent traveler knows, there's often no other option. I personally can't afford to upgrade on every flight I take, and the reality is that most normal travelers can't, either. So, until science discovers a way for us to teleport, I know I'm going to have to continue making the best of those long-haul flights in a constantly shrinking seat.

In light of this, I decided to put together a list of must-pack items that might help make that long flight a little less awful. Here are some of my in-flight essentials:

Comfortable outfit

My ideal outfitfor flying

What you wear on that 12-hour-long flight (and subsequent hours spent in check-in, baggage claim, and immigration lines) really does make a difference. You don't want to look like a complete slob (slobs don't tend to ever get free upgrades, after all), but you also don't want to be uncomfortable for all those hours.

My ideal airplane outfit consists of:

  1. Stretchy jeans, like Old Navy's Rockstar Jeggings. They look good, but feel like a comfy pair of leggings.
  2. A comfortable, lightweight t-shirt that will match the other clothes I packed.
  3. A big soft sweater to go overtop (layers are always a good idea, especially if you get hot/cold easily).
  4. Compression socks, because they help reduce swelling in your legs and help prevent blood clots.
  5. Whatever pair of shoes is most difficult to pack – this will obviously vary, depending on where you're going and the time of year you're traveling. In the summer, I'll usually wear my sneakers on the plane. Any other time of year, it's usually a pair of boots.


I hate keeping my shoes on on a long flight, because my feet usually swell a little and get very uncomfortable. However, it's disgusting to watch people roaming around on a plane in their socks or bare feet (ewww).

Some airlines will actually give you a pair of plane slippers to use on board. But if they don't, I suggest brining slippers or slipper socks of your own (along with a little pouch to keep them in until you can wash them once you get home). As an added bonus, they help keep your feet warm, too!

Travel blanket

Does anyone else get grossed out by the poorly shrink-wrapped blankets that get handed out on most long-haul flights? They're always so static-y, and I'm always dubious about how clean they actually are. (And then of course there are those multi-hour flights where you don't get ANY blanket.) I recommend traveling with your own blanket, like this CoolMax blanket by Cocoon. I'm a big fan of Cocoon's products, and this travel blanket is small and lightweight enough to fit easily into any carry-on bag.

Good headphones


You can never go wrong with a good pair of headphones on a long flight, whether it's to listen to music, to plug in to the in-flight entertainment system, or to drown out the noise of surrounding passengers. For some people, it's all about the noise-canceling headphones.

Personally, I don't like noise-canceling headphones, and therefore have a nice pair of Bose over-ear headphones, which are really comfortable and still block out a decent amount of noise when I'm watching a movie or listening to music.

Inflatable pillow

I'm the unlucky type of traveler who has a ridiculously hard time sleeping on planes. It's usually a mixture of not being able to get comfortable, and too much going on around me. I've taken to traveling with an inflatable neck pillow for those times when I DO doze off, so I don't arrive in my destination tired AND with a crick in my neck. I like the inflatable pillows more than the memory foam ones because they're much easier to pack.

Eye mask/ear plugs

To try to coax my body to fall asleep, I've invested in a nice eye mask and set of ear plugs. Sometimes it's just a matter of tricking your body into thinking it's bed time. You can find eye mask/ear plug bundles online – I personally like the ear plugs that mold into the shape of your ear.

Coloring book

Travel Between the Lines coloring book

Can't fall asleep, no matter what you try? Well, then make sure to bring a few things in your carry-on to keep you occupied. Adult coloring books are ALL the rage right now, both because coloring is fun AND it forces you to put down the iPhone and just let yourself relax.

My pick is the “Travel Between the Lines” adult coloring book, which is a travel-themed coloring book designed based on actual travel photos taken by the travelers behind the blog WanderTooth. The story is cool, AND it's sure to stoke your wanderlust. Perfect for a long plane ride.


Lastly, I never go anywhere without my trusty Kindle Paperwhite loaded with a few new books. If all else fails, I know I can always pass a couple hours by reading. The Kindle Paperwhite has a built-in backlight, too, so you don't have to bother your seat mate by turning on your overhead light after the crew turns all the main cabin lights off.

Pick these up before your next long flight:

What are some of YOUR in-flight essentials?


In-flight essentials to make long flights less awful


*Note: There are some affiliate links in this post, meaning that if you purchase something through one of these links, I make a small commission (at no extra cost to you, of course!). Just one way that I keep this site running!


"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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77 Comments on “In-Flight Essentials to Make Long Flights Suck Less

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  1. Sometimes a hotel where I stay gives me bedroom slippers. I pack these in my carry-on, use it on a long flight and trash it at the end. These slippers are great for the one time use on a plane.

      Ooooh great tip! That’s very smart.

    My ipod and one of my handheld video gaming devices, and my pillow. I have this weird thing that I always have to bring my own pillow, which might be why I don’t fly very often. I get it from my mom. She always has her pillow with her when she travels. I also now have this handmade quilt I got for christmas one year that goes with me everywhere. And I wear sweats on a plane. I need to get some jeggings. This year we wont be doing much traveling because my hubby is in LPN School. But I do get to go to the beach for a week.

    You’ve described my typical travel outfit to a T! I’m literally always rocking the stretchy jeans, plain t-shirt and long comfy cardigan on planes or road trips.

    Also, I love the sudden interest in adult coloring books! It’s so funny, I actually got my cousin (who is my age) and adult coloring book for Christmas this year, and she got my sister one! We all clearly love them.

      The adult coloring book trend has been insane! I went to a craft store after Christmas to get some colored pencils, and they were basically sold out! It was insane. But I think it’s great that coloring is making a “comeback”!

    I like to bring a water bottle because then I can stay properly hydrated! Plus I prefer the window seat but I can get stuck there sometimes. At least I have my water!

    I am not a germophobe at all ( the airline blankets are fine by me) but I like to bring those individually packaged wet wipes. I use them to wipe down the arm rests and the tray table and also just to wash my hands when they start to feel gross.

      Always a good idea in my book!

    I would love to have a novel or a magazine. Or else I just catch up on a movie. Great tips here!

    I use many of the same items. I would add a tiny bottle of hand sanitizer because as much as I don’t want to be, I AM a bit of a germ-a-phobe! I also bring my Thermos 9 hours hot/5hours cold spill proof travel cup. I LOVE it!

      Hey, airplanes are germy places! Hand sanitizer is always a good idea!

    Great list! We pretty much have the same flying outfit, only I prefer straight-up leggings to anything resembling denim, ha (I hate jeans!). I find Lysse leggings thick like pants and so comfortable for full days of travel.

      I’ll have to check out those leggings! I have a thicker pair from Old Navy that I also love, but these jeggings are my go-to. They don’t feel like jeans AT ALL!

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