Travelling is an important part of many people’s lives, and it’s important to ensure we do our part to help the environment. By choosing eco-friendly products for our carry-on luggage, we can help reduce our environmental impact while still having all of the items we need for a successful trip. In this article, I will give you my list of long-haul essentials, what to avoid, and the best eco-friendly products you need to take when you travel. From reusable water bottles and cutlery sets to organic cotton clothing and sustainable toiletries, these items will ensure that you can have a great trip without sacrificing your commitment to sustainability.

Before we start with this list, I want you to say the following out loud: the most sustainable item is the one that I already have.

There is no need to go on a shopping rampage (unless you are buying some travel related gifts); go through your home and use what you already have. As things get damaged, you will have an opportunity to upgrade.

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Pin image for a blog post about long haul essentials for the ecofrendly traveller which has a free list included.

Don’t forget the most important items for your long haul flight

There are a few items that you are not allowed to take with you in your carry on bag. To avoid being stripped off products that you would rather keep, here is a quick list of must takes and not allowed items.

Crop anonymous person showing banknotes with creative passport in hand on beige background as a long haul essential item that cannot be forgotten.

Not allowed to take with you

  • liquids – including drinks, even if they are closed, creams, toothpaste…
  • Weapons – or anything that could be used as one, from a cork opener to a metal fork

Don’t forget to take with you

  • A valid ID and passport
  • A visa for the country you are visiting
  • A pen (to fill out arrival forms)
  • Cash
  • Card (make sure it works overseas)

For your passport, it is always convenient to use a passport holder to prevent wear and tear. I purchased one many years ago that is made of fabric and is big enough to store other documents such as boarding passes and other cards. If you don’t have a passport holder, you can use a small multipurpose bag and store your documentation in it. This bag or documentation wallet must be always within your reach in your handbag or backpack.

Long haul essentials: clothes

Many travellers don’t give clothes all the importance they deserve. When it comes to long haul flights, the clothes you wear will make a big difference in your comfort and overall experience from the moment you walk into the airport right up to the moment you leave the plane. That includes thinking about the weather at home and your final destination.

essential clothes for long houl flights

What are you going to wear?

  • What is the difference in temperature?
  • Am I going to need a light jacket?
  • Do I need to dress in layers?
  • Do I need to change shoes?

Pro tips

  • The rule of thumb is to dress smart and not bring more clothes than you require. If you must take a coat, you can always put it in your main luggage after you arrive at the airport.
  • Choose shoes that are easy to put on and take off. Don’t wear a belt. You will spend less time in passing through security.
  • Choose pieces of clothing from your closet that are breathable, flexible and not tight.
Comfy blue gumshoes on carpet at home are a long haul essential.

Add these pieces to your clothing travel essentials

Sarong

Sometimes it gets cold in airports and aeroplanes – I definitely get cold – so bringing a piece of clothing that can act as a scarf is a must for me. Additionally, sarongs are one of the most versatile pieces of clothing that can be used while travelling. You can use it as a picnic top at a park or the beach, and you can also use it to cover parts of your body if you are planning to enter religious areas with a dress code. If visiting colder locations, I use a wide scarf that doubles as a blanket.

Pair of extra socks

A pair of extra socks are especially useful for long-haul flights where you crave to take off your shoes. Even if it’s hot take them with you, you never know if the plane will get cold. Try compression socks to avoid swollen legs if you have problems with blood circulation.

A change of underwear

I see you are asking yourself, Patri, do I need to go the extra mile? I think it’s worth it. After 8 hours on a plane, you will be happy to change into clean and fresh underwear. Furthermore, you could find yourself in the uncomfortable situation of missing your connection flight, true story. This happened to us one time and given the circumstances, I was very proud of myself for the proper planning, which allowed me to freshen up because I had the essentials I needed, including toiletries and underwear. My husband… well, he had to make do with what he had.

LONG HAUL ESSENTIALS TO MAXIMISE COMFORT

When I take a long flight I know the most important part is to feel comfortable when it’s time to sleep. Being small is a blessing when you only have a small space to rest, but not everybody is as lucky as me, so using some travel essentials to maximise how much sleep you get is super important. This is what I do:

Full body of trendy young Asian lady in stylish comfy clothes standing against tile wall. Her comfy clothes are long haul essentials.

Travel neck pillow

A travel pillow is the most common travel item for a plane for good reason and they are a must item for any flight you intend to doze off. In my opinion, the best travel pillows are made of memory foam, tall and with a tight fit so your head barely moves.

Comfy sweat pants

I bet you were not expecting that one, right? That one time I travelled business class opened a whole new world of comfort in an aeroplane that I have been trying to mimic as much as possible. I flew with Qantas and oh, glorious day! I was given a pyjama. How exciting it was to get changed into some fresh, comfortable clothes. Then, I decided it was possible to travel comfy on a budget by making your own aeroplane pyjama version! I usually get a pair of pants that will be my lounge pants in my destination.

Eye mask and earplugs

Another idea that came directly from business class: an eye mask and ear plugs. Sleep regardless of the amount of light and block some of the background sound. I suffer from misophonia so on top of earplugs, I put on my noise cancelling headphones. My ears feel uncomfortable after a while, but I prefer that to the extra noise.

PREPARE YOUR ECO FRIENDLY TOILETRY BAG

As I mentioned above, that time I flew business class opened the door to a new way of flying. All these little perks I got made me think, I need to come with those perks from home! And so, now I have a toiletry bag that I use for flights. Now you need to find yours and start filling it out with your most beloved travel eco friendly essentials so that neither your hygiene routine nor the planet will be compromised.

  • Eco warrior tip: Remember, you do not need to buy new eco friendly products to travel, use what you already have.
  • Ecowarrior hack: I keep empty small containers (less than 100ml.) and I use them to fill them with small quantities of cream or toothpaste.

Add these to your toiletry bag

I use the items above to clean myself and to keep the area where I will be sitting bacteria free, because planes are soooo dirty!!! Avoid getting sick and use antibacterial spray or wipes to clean surfaces such as the tray, and use hand sanitiser often if you don’t have the chance to wash your hands.

You may not know this, but high altitudes and low humidity will dry your skin so having lip balm and some cream will make you feel extra comfortable.

Finally, for brushing my teeth, I like to use my bamboo set and a couple of solid toothpaste tablets that I throw in the toothbrush case to keep everything together.

LONG HAUL ESSENTIALS: ENTERTAINMENT

Sometimes you will board a big plane with an individual screen just to yourself and then the world will be yours. From games to TV shows and movies, you will be too busy to talk to your travel partner; but alas, not all planes were created equal and there will come a time in which your brain will be under-stimulated. These are some ideas of things you can do to keep yourself entertained.

I personally only take my phone and load it with apps in order to have a nice variety. Sometimes I will carry a book with me and, not long ago, I acquired the habit of keeping a travel journal. Pick your entertainment of choice and add it to your list of long haul essentials.

LONG HAUL ESSENTIALS: FOOD, BEVERAGE and WELLNESS

Reusable bottle of water

The ultimate ecofriendly item you should take with you every time you leave your house is the humble water bottle. Almost as important as your wallet, your phone and your house keys, you should never leave it behind. They are useful for your trip in general but also in airports, where sometimes there might be water fountains. Take it empty or half empty to the airport and drink the remaining water before going through security. Refill the bottle with water and once on the plane, have a sip any time you want without the long wait to get a plastic, little cup of water when the flight attendant is available.

Eco warrior tip: Bring an insulated water bottle that can also function as a thermos and get coffee or tea in a cafe. You can ask to get it poured into your bottle although due to hygiene policies some places may not be allowed to do that. However, you can order it in a cup to stay and then pour it yourself into your bottle.

Healthy snacks

If you care about your health and your pocket you should not forget to carry some snacks. The most convenient foods are nuts, which you can store in reusable silicone bags, fruits and your favourite healthy bars. If you feel motivated, prepare a nice sandwich at home and wrap it in beeswax wraps! Beware that in some places, you may not introduce foreign food into the country and you will be asked to throw it away when you land. Be mindful and only take with you what you think you will consume.


Remember to include bamboo cutlery among your long haul essentials for an ecofriendly dining option during your flight. It provides a sustainable alternative to the plastic cutlery wrapped in another plastic bag. However, if you do not let the flight attendant know that you will be using your own cutlery, the whole wrap will be disposed of even if you do not open it.

Melatonin pills 

If you are travelling to a very different time zone you may need help adjusting. Take one melatonin pill when it is time to go to bed in your final destination to help minimise jet lag and help your internal clock adjust to the new time zone. Melatonin is a hormone that our own body produces and it is not harmful, but remember to follow indications.

Ibuprofen pills

Headaches are not fun; however, they are easy to solve when ibuprofen is handy. It is a good idea to take a small box with you in your luggage, especially if you are going to a destination where pharmacies would not be readily available. So grab a couple and throw them in your carry on bag, just in case.

This is the end of the list, and while it is quite long, the truth I that a carry on suitcase plus a personal item are enough to carry all of these needful things to make your long hours the most comfortable experience you can create for yourself.

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One Comment

  1. This is a great list and a good reminder of what to bring for flights. Since I’m going on a road trip this upcoming Monday, this is a good reminder for a long drive as well.

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