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"30+ Essentials to Pack in Your Personal Bag for Long Flights"

Updated: May 6

Secrets of a Professional Travel Advisor's Backpack

A backpack sits on a rock at sunset
A wild backpack enjoys an idyllic sunset

Ever found that packing for a big trip quickly turns into an overwhelming situation? It can be so stressful to decide what you need to take with you on the plane vs what to put in your checked luggage.

Never fear; I am here to help! As a professional travel advisor and frequent flyer, I’ve tested a number of products and come up with a list of 30+ essentials for long flights that I always pack to ensure a comfortable flight. Now I’m going to share my secrets with you!

Full disclosure: If you click on the links below and purchase any of the items I recommend, I may receive a commission as an Amazon Associate.

Keep in mind this is just a list of the items I have in my backpack for long flights. Let me know in the comments if you'd like to find out how I pack my carry-on bag, too!

The Bags You Need to Have

Your Backpack

Choosing the correct backpack is most important. When it comes to my preferred type of bag, I am all about function. At the end of the day, if it does work the way I need, it doesn’t matter how it looks. 

My workhorse travel backpack is the coowoz Large Carryon Backpack. I have it in a really pretty lavender that matches my Away rolling carryon (it was a limited edition color). 

Lavander backpack

This bag fits easily under the seat in front of you and the main compartment opens like a suitcase for easy access to anything you’ve packed. It has a great padded compartment for electronics, a wet bag section, and a place to pack dirty shoes in addition to multiple incredibly useful pockets. It also has a strap on the back that allows you to easily slide it over the handle of your rolling bag while traversing the airport.

If you’d like something with a slightly more professional look, check out the Vancropak Weekender Duffel Bag in Grey. It has a more traditional look with almost the same functionality as the coowoz.

Organizer Bags

Hands putting items into electronic organizer

Now that you have the perfect backpack, you need a couple of organizer bags to corral your smaller essentials.

  • Makeup and jewelry: I use the smallest bags that I can. Typically, I throw my makeup and brushes into a cloth pouch that one of my wonderful friends made for me. For something similar, take a look at the Relavel Makeup Travel Bag on Amazon. For your jewelry, I recommend a small box/bag that allows you to separate your pieces so they don’t get tangled or damaged. Check out the Vlondo Small Jewelry Box Organizer for an example. 

Beige jewelry organzier for travel

Pro Tip: Do NOT pack your fine jewelry or jewelry that has sentimental value. Tourists are easy targets and the last thing you want is to get robbed on vacation. Simple pieces that can easily mix and match are best. For really nice travel jewelry options, get in touch with my friend Jeri at Dannini. She’s the best and she has a fabulous selection of fine and travel jewels.

Clear toiletries bag with reusable bottles

Essential Items for Your Flight

Now that you have all the bags you need, let’s talk about essential items for your flight. These are all things that I’ve found incredibly helpful in my journeys.


Here's what I bring with me on every trip for both practical and entertainment purposes:

  • Power Bank(s)

Belkin power bank

Having one of these (fully charged) has been a lifesaver on many of my adventures, especially considering the number of faulty plugs I have encountered on various aircraft. 

For a basic option with lots of power, check out the Belkin BoostCharge 20k mAh Power Bank. It will take care of most any small electronics you might carry. For Apple Watch users who want a more compact solution, I recommend something like the iWalk Portable Apple Watch Charger. The battery capacity isn’t quite as high but it means one less cable to deal with on the plane.

Kindle tablet
  • Amazon Kindle Paperwhite - As an avid reader, I do not leave home without one of these…though I have left them behind in an airplane and at a hotel before. Do I still love paper books? Absolutely! But you can’t beat this lightweight option that comes with its own backlight for travel. No fumbling with reading lights and it takes up barely any room in your bag. Win win!

White headphones

  • Noise Canceling Headphones - Full disclosure: I own both Apple AirPods Pro and Beats Noise Canceling Headphones. The AirPods are great for daily use and short haul trips but you can’t beat the Beats for longevity of charge. Therefore, the Beats win when it comes to long haul travel. If you’ve never tried noise cancelling headphones on a plane, it truly makes the experience much more enjoyable.

International plug adapter
  • Plug Adapters - I like to carry these onboard with me in case something happens with my checked luggage. I love a modern option with USB ports like this Tessan Adapter. As an Apple gal, I also grab the appropriate plug for my destination from the Apple World Adapter Kit.

Apple iPad on Magic keyboard folio
  • iPad Pro & Apple Magic Keyboard Case - Even my tiny MacBook Pro is still too big for my tastes so I often travel with my iPad Pro, instead. It’s versatile and powerful and with the addition of the Apple Magic Keyboard Case, I can do just about any task I need while on the road and I save on space and weight in my backpack.

Dealing with Dual Voltage: I highly recommend only bringing devices that are truly dual voltage on an international trip. Power converters are heavy and generally pointless, in my opinion. Most cell phones and tablets are dual voltage and just need a plug adapter. Also, 110V heat generating hair products tend to die in a 220V environment even when you use a power converter.


Staying hydrated is crucial on long flights. Planes are incredibly dehydrating and arriving at your destination feeling like a dessicated carrot is not the greatest way to start a trip.

Here are my secrets for keeping hydrated on long flights:

  • Liquid IV - I take this on every trip. Just one packet in 16 oz of water helps to rehydrate me after getting dried out on the plane. It’s also helpful if you’ve indulged a bit too much once you get to your destination (not that I’ve ever done that before…). I just purchase a bottle of water with a sports lid once I’m past security. You can also bring your favorite refillable water bottle.

  • Lip Balm - I love Fresh Sugar Lip Balm but my new subtl Stack’s balm has been equally impressive. [See below for details.]

  • Skin cream - For both face and hands. I like L’Occitance Shea Butter hand cream and Cerave Skin Renewing Night Cream for those overnight flights.

Sleep Comfort

Sleep on an airplane is one of the hardest things to accomplish for most travelers. Even the lie-flat seats aren't always enough to feel comfortable enough to truly rest.

I am almost six feet tall and not the best sleeper even at home. There has been a lot of trial and error to get to the point where I feel comfortable enough to sleep on a plane.

In addition to always booking the extra leg room seats, here’s what I pack in my backpack to ensure the best chance of sleep on a long flight:

Travel pillow and case
  • Cabeau Evolution S3 Travel Sleep Pillow - This takes the traditional u-shaped travel pillow to the next level with memory foam and velcro straps that attach to your headrest. Why is that last part important? Half the reason you can’t sleep with a standard neck pillow is that your head constantly droops too far forward. With the back straps secured and a snap in front to keep the pillow closed around your neck, this issue is eliminated.

Green loop earplugs
  • Loop Quiet Earplugs - I know I already recommended noise canceling headphones but either option I mentioned above are not the best for sleeping. That’s where the Loops come in. I actually use these every night at home (bad sleeper) and have a secondary pair for travel purposes. I love the soft silicone and the fact that they come with five sizes of ear plugs so you get the most comfortable fit

Purple sleep mask for travel
  • Contoured Cup Sleeping Mask - There’s nothing worse than trying to sleep when your seatmate (or anyone within three rows of you) has their lights on. This mask blocks the light but doesn’t rest on your eyes and cause irritation when you are trying to rest.

Pink travel blanket
  • EverSnug Travel Blanket Pillow - It’s a pillow, it’s a blanket, it slips over the handle of your suitcase! Yes, most airlines will hand you a mediocre blanket when you get onboard but this one is soft and wonderfully warm. I’ve also found it really useful for those hotel rooms where the thermostat just doesn’t seem to work when it comes to heat.

  • Melatonin Gummies - I know it's tempting but skip the wine on an overnight flight and have plenty of water and some melatonin gummies to help bring on the Z's. I really like this option from Restorz that comes with resealable small packets that are easily packable.

  • Compression Socks - Ok, ok, these aren't actually in my backpack. I just wear them for the entirety of the trip. They are so helpful for comfort and health on a long flights. Definitely a must pack/wear. This pack from SunFeeling works great and comes in a variety of fun patterns.

With these six items, I have slept so hard on flights that my seat neighbor had to wake me up for landing!

Personal Care

At the end of a long flight, it’s nice to be able to freshen up a bit before landing. Brush your teeth (only with bottled water), wash your face, refresh deodorant and put on some makeup, if you are so inclined.

Here are the ways I refresh before heading out into a new country:

  • Sonicare Electric Toothbrush - The freshest mouth you’ll ever have and it comes with a convenient travel case. It also hold a charge for about 10 days so you often don’t even need to bring the charging base with you.

Makeup eraser cloths
  • Makeup Eraser Cloths - I LOVE these and I use them at home and on the road. They eliminate the need to pack makeup remover and also exfoliate your face.

  • Subtle Stacks Makeup - This is a recent addition to my bag and I couldn’t be happier. These compact discs of makeup are both high quality and thoughtfully designed to take up the least amount of space possible in your bag. Just add some mascara, eye and brow liner, foundation (if desired) and maybe an extra lipstick and you are all set. I don’t get anything for recommending these, by the way. I just love them!

  • Alleyoop 4-In-One Makeup Brushes - This is a great compliment to the stack if you like to use brushes like. Compact and very useful. They also have some other great options for both brushes and makeup for travel.


As someone who enjoys wearing a bit of makeup, I try to start an overnight flight with a clean face, as if I am getting ready for bed and then throw on a simple look before landing.

Ready to Get Packing?

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