Living in Australia is great, so great. Except when you want to go to Europe or America or, well, anywhere more than a five-hour flight away, which for me living in Perth, Western Australia, is just about everywhere (except Bali, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney). To make long-haul plane travel more bearable, I have mastered what you need to pack in your carry-on luggage. My main objective it to sleep. My secondary objective is to be distracted and/or entertained so I don’t get too fidgety or claustrophobic.
In order of importance, my Top 10 things to take on the plane with you in your onboard luggage:
1. Neck pillow
I was never a fan and thought travellers were just trying to make a statement with their neck pillows dangling off their backpacks, that is until I travelled with one. It raised the comfort level of seat 32A to something far more civilised. Not quite Business Class level (let’s be real, not even close), but with a neck pillow, I slept. Amazingly, I actually fell asleep sitting upright on a plane and slept quite soundly. That was a first and from that moment on, never would I be without my beanbag neck pillow again. Best $20 I ever spent. And when not sleeping, it’s great for balancing the laptop on (see 7 below).
2. Noise cancelling headphones
How I love my Bose noise cancelling headphones. They are a game changer, an expensive game changer at about $400 a pair, but worth forking out for if you can afford it. I don’t know how I ever lived without them. With my neck pillow in place and my headphones on and the in-flight entertainment set to the ‘silent’ channel, no wailing toddler or chatty travellers or noisy coughers shall rouse me from my upright slumber. p.s. reckon my next pair will be Beats wireless noise cancelling headphones – Zorba loves his and the case is smaller than the Bose one. Also, the leather around ear pads and top bar on my Bose headphones started to flake after 2.5 years.
3. Ear plugs
Who would’ve thought I could have so much love for two little thimble sized pieces of foam? A good option for those who don’t have noise cancelling heaven-sent headphones, but when used in conjunction with the above-mentioned headphones, it increases the levels of comfort and the silence is almost complete.
4. Comfortable eye mask
When you walk out of any long haul flight, try to pick up an unused / left behind vanity kit in Business Class – their eye masks are bigger, better and way more comfortable and effective at blocking out the light than the economy ones. So many times I’ve wanted to shout: seriously, unless we’re flying over a city or there is breathtaking sunset or sunrise, close your blind so we can get some sleep!!
5. A wrap or big scarf
I always carry a light woollen scarf or wrap with me – when the aircon is too cold, or the provided blanket isn’t long enough to cover my shoulders and my feet, I use my wrap. Or if I really want to give off the ‘let me sleep vibe’, I use it to cover my head.
6. A good book
I have started and finished a book on one flight before. There’s nothing like getting fully immersed in a gripping story to make time fly. And let’s face it, the sooner we are off the plane, the better, so we want time to fly. I don’t always feel like reading, but it’s great to have the option to, especially if you’ve seen all the movies on the entertainment system (or if they are just rubbish).
Especially good for the long haul trip home – it’s great to download my photos from my memory cards, edit the ones I like, save them into albums, relive those moments of travel joy. All whilst being stabilised on my beanbag neck pillow as I listen to my favourite tunes through my noise-cancelling headphones.
8. Lavender essential oil
Not as crazy as it sounds. Lavender is known to help with sleep and a few drops on my neck pillow does wonders – not only do I inhale a lovely scent, it can also mask unpleasant scents around me. We’ve all sat next to stinky toilets and / or people. I never leave home without lavender oil and put a couple of drops on the hotel pillow at night for a guaranteed good night’s sleep.
9. Toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant
Some airlines provide a mini toothbrush with a teeny tiny tube of abrasive white substance fobbing itself off to be toothpaste – what is that? If you bring your own, you don’t have to worry. That fury teeth feeling after a waking up is horrible. Two mins in the bathroom to clean your teeth and apply deodorant and you’ll feel like a new person. Almost.
10. Spare t-shirt, undies, and socks
If your flight is delayed, if you miss your connection, or have a long journey overland once you’re off the plane, changing into fresh clothes will make you feel almost human.
If an airline gives you a pair of socks in your kit, use them. Not only will your tootsies stay warm, but they’ll provide a barrier and help keep your socks clean when you walk around or go to the toilet.
And I always buy a bottle of water once I’m past security to take with me on the plane. It’s annoying to always have to call a steward for a glass or water – some airlines (Emirates) won’t let you take bottled water on, no matter where you purchased the bottle.
What are your favourite things to take with you on a plane?