Do you dread the thought of a long-haul international flight? I do. Especially as I have lived most of my adult life in one of the worlds most isolated places – Geraldton, Western Australia. And as an Aussie traveller, my definition of a long-haul international flight is any single flight lasting 10+ hours. So to combat the dread and help improve my long haul, in-fight experience, I always carry 8 essential travel items (which became 10 after COVID-19 swept the world in 2020). Some are more glamorous than others. My in-flight travel routine was born after I started travelling internationally for work and pleasure about nine years ago. I remember vividly the time I flew between Perth, Western Australia and Dallas, Texas via Sydney and Los Angeles: a lengthy 24 hour plus trip. I was super excited to be flying business class for the first time and quietly rejoiced over my first experience sitting at the front of the plane. Spacious business class seats, pre-flight drinks, white table cloths, silver cutlery and food served on plate instead of in a plastic container. However, my excitement and enthusiasm started to wane after about five hours into the flight as we headed towards LA over the vast Pacific Ocean. The torture endured from the constant drone of the aircraft engine noise seeping into the cabin and the dry desert-like moisture sucking air was unbearable for my poor nose and ears. My feet and legs were aching too from the cabin pressure. I just wanted to lay in my business class flat bed and cry all the way to LA. As a result of this unpleasant experience, I started to gather travel items that would vastly improve my in-flight travel journey and help reduce the onset of jet lag. I didn’t want to be stuck in the most isolated city forever just because I dreaded long-haul international flights and the thought of being held captive on an airplane for up to 24 hours.
My 10 essential in-flight travel items:
- Bose QuietComfort noise cancelling headphones. Perfect for in-flight peace and quiet. These headphones significantly reduce cabin noise so you can get a good night sleep and block out any noisy neighbours.
- Humidiflyer. Genius Aussie invention for nasal hydration heaven. Very unglamorous but who wants to breath in stale dry air for 10+ hours! http://humidiflyer.com
- Compression socks. Great for increasing circulation, and reducing swelling and aches in your feet and legs.
- Firm yoga pants or running tights. Similar to the point above.
- FESS Nasal Spray. Handy for keeping moisture in your nose which reduces the risk of catching cold/flu bugs from other passengers.
- Sleep eye mask. Useful for blocking out any extraneous glow after the cabin lights have been dimmed (e.g., entertainment screens, reading lights).
- Scarf. Necessary to cover your face and hide the unglamorous humidiflyer.
- Essential oils. Help with various travel ailments and provide a nice scent to mask any unsavoury odours. My favourite is the Prana Sana oil blend from The Sandalwood Factory in Albany, Western Australia. https://www.thesandalwoodshop.com.au/locations/albany/
- N95 mask. Post COVID-19.
- Antibacterial hand sanitiser. Post COVID-19.
So I don’t look like a freak and frighten the other passengers when arriving at the airport, the above items are slowly put to use during the various pre-departure, departure and in-flight stages. First are the compression socks. If I am travelling in jeans, these are put on at home before I leave for the airport, or if I am travelling in a long, loose fitting dress I slip them on just after I have taken my seat on the plane. The latest addition to my routine are firm running tights to help with upper leg compression. On a return trip from the USA earlier this year, it seems other women have adopted this approach too. The departure lounge at LAX was full of lycra clad women wearing sportswear outfits as if they were heading straight to the gym or yoga class. Fortunately, men haven’t adopted this look (yet)! For me, I still like to look somewhat stylish when travelling so my running tights are definitely hidden under my dress away from public view.
As the airplane shakes and hurtles down the runway, my Bose noise cancelling headphones make an appearance. They really work miracles for shutting out the airplane engine noise that seeps into the cabin, and any surrounding passenger chatter or crying babies who are being settled to sleep. So much so that when a member of the cabin crew is navigating the meals trolley next to your seat and asks what drinks or meal take your fancy, you have to remove your headphones so you can hear the options. As soon as dinner is cleared away and the lights dimmed for sleep time, out comes the eye mask, humidifier and scarf. Carefully covering my head with the scarf, I slip the humidifier over face, adjusting the strap so the mask fits comfortably for the night sleep. Once the eye mask is on I slowly recline my chair back as far as possible if in economy, otherwise its a flatbed all the way in business class. When the lights brighten in preparation for the morning breakfast, the eye mask, humidiflyer and scarf are quickly peeled away and placed back in my hand luggage. Before breakfast is served, its a mad dash to the restroom to check if there are any crease lines on my face from the humidiflyer and to lather some much moisturiser. During awake time, the FESS nasal spray is also used regularly to keep my nose hydrated with moisture. The essential oil is dapped on a tissue should any unwanted odours gently waft near my seat throughout the long flight. When the airplane lands, all of my unglamorous in-flight travel items have been carefully stowed away and hopefully the passengers seated around me are none the wiser.
My girlfriends always joke about my quirky unglamorous travel items and laugh when they imagine the reaction of the poor person sitting next to me. Sometimes I wish I never told them. However, these travel items work for me and make the long-haul in-flight experience bearable. Regardless of whether I am flying economy or business class the routine is the same, and mostly hidden under the cover cabin darkness and a well positioned scarf.
Note: this post is not sponsored.