Five Travel Essentials for Surviving Long-Haul Flights


Aeroplane in flight over palm trees

With the world smaller than ever, international travel is now a regular occurrence for most. But as you consider your next dream destination, whether it be relaxing on pure white sand, crystal clear blue water lapping at your feet or something a tad more adventurous, one thing is for sure. To get there, you’ll most likely need to endure that dreaded long-haul flight.

As an expat travelling long haul for over ten years, I thought I’d share with you a few tips on how to make an international flight a little more comfortable. Here are my top five travel essentials I keep in my carry-on to help me get through any trip.

A neck pillow: I’ve tried and tested several over the years, my trusty go-to is one filled with microbeads. Sure, they’re a little more bulky than an inflatable one, but worth it. It keeps my neck in a safe and comfy position whether resting or trying to get forty winks. They are also handy to rest your head against the plane wall if you’ve nabbed yourself a window seat. With a convenient press stud fastener, they attach easily to any carry-on bag and are super lightweight.  Check out Cloudz microbead travel pillows.

My own in-flight survival kit: in a transparent make-up bag I place items I’ll need throughout my flight. These include eye mask, face mask (yes, I wore one even before the pandemic, tired of falling ill a week into my trip on account of the recirculated air on long-haul), wax ear plugs and sleeping tablets. I also throw in my toothbrush and paste, and small containers of face moisturizer and Vaseline which doubles as a lip balm. Mascara, a little lippy and a perfume atomizer also come in handy for arrival, so I can look and smell halfway human.    

A Krama or neck scarf:  living in Cambodia, it’s only natural to own a traditional krama scarf (or ten!). These woven cotton scarves come in very handy in-flight. Traditionally used as a headscarf by locals, I’ve used mine as a towel and sarong. In-flight I use it as a scarf to keep warm. It’s super handy too if traveling to colder climes. For those without a krama, a natural lightweight scarf will suffice. Krama Krama

My slippers: the first thing I do when seated is kick off my shoes and slip on my Kingdom of Wow slippers. Lightweight and flatpack, their original design is perfect for flying. They keep my feet warm and cozy in-flight, while the soft hand-crocheted slippers don’t restrict my feet like shoes. The flexible leather sole allows me to stretch out or curl up into my seat and offers extra protection than socks when walking the aisle or visiting the loo.    

Water bottle: on long-haul flights keeping hydrated is key. Not wanting to rely on in-flight services, I refill my aluminum water bottle after airport security meaning I can take regular sips throughout my trip. To remain hydrated and comfortable, I also avoid alcohol and carbonated drinks (which can make you gassy at high attitude), choosing only fruit juice and water from the steward’s trolley.

An expat living and working in Cambodia for over seven years, Tracy Brookshaw has been traveling between Southeast Asia and Europe for over a decade, becoming a dab-hand at surviving long-haul flights.