17 Top Flight Packing List Items for 2020 + What NOT to Bring

Updated on January 17, 2020 by Asher Fergusson

What should I bring in my carry on for my flight?

If you’re clever with what you bring on board, a long flight can go from being a real pain to being a productive or relaxing getaway in the air.

This list has everything you need to organize and prepare your carry-on luggage. Between TSA guidelines, and preparing for the possibility of flight delays, this list has you covered to get the most out of your long flight!

One of the biggest tips we have is to be well prepared, be early to your airport and then relax and enjoy the adventure!


1) Your Carry-on Bag – Your carry-on bag has to be size appropriate, and comfortable for you to carry or roll onto the aircraft. It can be anything from a backpack, a laptop bag, to a TSA compliant roller bag. Make sure that the bag you bring has pockets and compartments so that you can stay super organized as you take items out and put them back in during your flight. This backpack in particular even has charging ports and anti-theft features!

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2) Slippers or Cozy Socks for the airplane – Cabin temperatures can seriously fluctuate throughout the flight, and more often than not, it will get chilly. On most long flights, you’ll be provided with a fleece blanket, but you should also come prepared with a pair of thick socks or slippers. I like to bring a pair of wool hiking socks with me, but slippers are also a good idea for when you want to get up and walk around the cabin.

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3) Flexible Neck Pillow – Many airplanes have adjustable headrests so that you can lean your head one way or another to get to sleep. Still, I find it a real help to bring a neck pillow on long-haul flights. A neck pillow supports your neck and head so that you can sleep peacefully and wake up without any kinks in your neck. This one stops the head from falling forward and can be twisted into several positions for all-around comfort.

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4) Makeup Removing Wipes – If your flight is especially lengthy, you might want to cleanse your face before falling asleep. Make this an easy task by stashing some makeup removing wipes in your carry-on bag. These Burt’s Bees makeup removing wipes are all tingly, exfoliating, and smell really good. Your flight just turned into a spa day.

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5) Ear Plugs and Sleeping Mask – If you want to sleep during your flight, it is absolutely essential to bring earplugs and a sleep mask with you. Noisy turbulence and fluorescent cabin lights can make it difficult to get some shuteye on an airplane. This mask & ear plug duo is perfect for flying, and tuning out annoying seat neighbors.

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6) Refreshing Face Mask – Face masks are a fun and soothing activity to partake in during a flight. Though it may sound unconventional to indulge in a mask on board an airplane, you might as well make the most out of a quiet couple hours, and to be honest, nobody cares what you look like! Sheet masks are gaining popularity these days, and come in a variety of scents and formulas. Try out these on your next big travel day.

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7) Travel Journal and Pen – A pen will come in handy when you’re on an international flight and have to fill out customs and immigration forms. Besides that, bringing a pen and notebook is a good idea so that you can knock out some trip planning or journal writing during your flight. Being up in the air is as good a time as any to do some reflective thinking and journaling. Bring a notebook like this one with you on your trip – it’s the perfect size for travel.

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8) Onboard Entertainment (Phone, iPad, Kindle) – Movie options on flights can be limited. It’s worth it to bring your own ipad or laptop so that you can pre-download your favorite shows and binge watch them on the airplane. If you’re more of a book person, a Kindle will save major space on reading material. Think of your flight time as a pocket of time to relax and unwind with your favorite fictional characters.

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9) USB Charging Cords – Many planes have USB sockets in your seat compartment. Bring your own cord so that you can charge your phone, ipad, or any other technology while you fly.

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10) Toiletries/ Makeup – Bringing your toiletries with you on board is a good idea, in case of lost luggage or if you want to freshen up mid-fight. I like cleansing my face right after takeoff, then freshening up and applying makeup during the last hour or so of the flight. Just make sure that you put your toiletries in a waterproof bag, in case they explode with the change in cabin pressure.

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11) Change of Clothes – It’s a good idea to bring extra clothes in your carry-on in case your flight gets delayed (very common during winter weather seasons), or in case the airline loses your checked luggage (unfortunately pretty common as well). I like to bring soft pajama pants or leggings to change into on my flight anyway. Long flights are all about making yourself comfortable!

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12) Water Bottle – It’s so important to hydrate while you’re traveling, especially since plane cabin air is recycled over and over, making it super dry. To feel your best when you arrive at your destination, keep a refillable water bottle with you. Pretty much all airports have water fountains with drinking water that you can fill your bottle with, and if you ask nicely, a flight attendant can refill for you so that you don’t waste so many plastic cups during your flight.

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13) Snacks – Airport food is really high in sodium, very unhealthy and always expensive! By bringing your own snacks, you’ll save time, money, and your stomach. This trail mix of peanuts, yogurt chips, raisins, dried cranberries, almonds, cashews, and dates will satisfy you on a long flight.

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14) Headphones – You simply cannot survive a flight of any length, let alone a long one, without a pair of headphones. Your airline may provide you with some, but they definitely won’t be noise-cancelling like these ones, or very comfortable to wear for an extended period of time. Try these ones, and stock up on podcasts and music before takeoff.

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15) Destination Guide Book – There is something extremely exciting about reading about your destination while you’re on your way there. A guide book or its Kindle version is a good time-killer on the plane, and will help you get your vacation bucket list in order. Lonely Planet is my absolute favorite, and they are free to download if you have Kindle Unlimited!

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16) Aquaphor – Plane rides can severely dry out your skin, especially your lips! My must-have travel moisturizer is Aquaphor. It’s extremely thick, and provides long-lasting protection for your skin. I use it on my lips, hands, and even my face when it is dry or chapped. I never leave home without it.

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17) Moisturizing Face Spray – Because of the dry air that circulates through the plane cabin, you’ll need to pay extra attention to your face during a long flight. This mist makes for an awesome pick-me-up – I have combination skin and have been using it for months now. It’s refreshing, hydrating, smells incredible, and is suitable for all skin types. It can even act as both a refresher and a toner. A few spritzes will leave you feeling refreshed when you reach your destination.

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Other packing list items to bring in your carry-on:

What to wear on a long flight:

Dressing in layers is key, since airport and airplane temperatures are notorious for fluctuation. Try to wear soft, comfortable clothes, since you’ll be sitting in cramped quarters for a long period of time.

Wear sweatpants or leggings, a tee shirt, and wool socks. It’s also a smart idea to bring slippers or slip-on sandals to slip on to wander around or go to the restroom during your flight. Definitely do not wear denim and any other material that doesn’t breathe well. Remember to keep an extra change of clothes in your carry-on in case you want to change before landing.

What NOT to take on your flight:

These items are TSA prohibited:
1) 🚫 Flammables
2) 🚫 Firearms
3) 🚫 Sharp objects
4) 🚫 Liquids (unless you follow the liquids rule – see FAQ)
5) 🚫 Household tools
6) 🚫 Camping equipment
7) 🚫 Medical tools
8) 🚫 Various miscellaneous items
Here is a link to the TSA website

FAQs about long flights:

1) Do they serve food on long flights?

Yes, airlines almost always serve meals on any flight longer than three hours. Check with your particular airline before you go if you need more information or have food restrictions.

2) How can I stay active on a long flight?

Try some airplane yoga. Yes, it sounds bizarre but it is actually very important to stay a little active during your flight. Here are seven poses to try on your next long flight.

3) I get nervous before flying. Any tips?

Try meditating. There are all sorts of apps that claim to bust anxiety, and there’s no reason they won’t work for airplane anxiety. Sleeping aids are also a good alternative, so that you can stay conked out for the majority of the flight.

4) What is the rule for carrying on liquids?

You are allowed to bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes in your carry-on bag and through the checkpoint. These are limited to travel-sized containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item.

5) What counts as liquids?

Any liquid, aerosol, gel, cream or paste. This includes contact solution, mascara, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, etc. Keeping your liquids in a separate zip lock bag will make the security process go so much more quickly.

6) How can I keep my child entertained on a long flight?

We’ve found that reading books and drawing can last for hours – you’d be surprised how engaged children get when you’re participating in their fun on a plane! If they really need some solo entertainment time (or you just need a break – travel stress happens!) you can certainly go the electronic route and use a kid-safe device. Try loading up a Kindle with kids books or another device with educational or stress-relief games for your child.

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