Carry-on ready: What to pack for long flights

Carry-On Ready: What to Pack for Long Flights and Layovers

Welcome aboard, fellow wanderer! Whether you're soaring through the skies or navigating the bustling terminals during a layover, ensuring your journey is as comfortable as possible is key. Buckle up, because I've got some insider tips and tricks to make your travel experience as smooth as possible. Let's dive into some practical tips on how to survive those dreaded layovers, how to prepare for long flights and how to pack smart for destinations with a very different climate. 


Choosing the Perfect Carry-On: Suitcase vs. Backpack

First thing first, let's talk about selecting the right carry-on bag for your journey. While a sleek carry-on suitcase may seem like the obvious choice, it's important to consider the possibility of limited overhead bin space on your flight.

Some airlines may require you to check-in your carry-on suitcase if they run out of overhead bin space, leaving you without your essentials during the flight. This has happened to me so many times! It’s the disadvantage of being in the very last boarding group (oh well, at least I got the least expensive flight ticket..). In this case, opting for a backpack or a bag that fits under your seat is a smarter choice. Not only will you have easy access to your belongings throughout the flight, but you'll also avoid the hassle of dealing with checked baggage.


Pack Like a Pro: The Essentials for a Long Flight

Let's talk about carry-on essentials. When it comes to surviving long flights and layovers, your carry-on is your best friend. Pack it wisely, and you'll be flying high with comfort and convenience. 

Start with the basics: look for pieces that are as cozy as your favorite pajamas but chic enough to strut through any airport terminal like it's your personal runway. Think stretchy leggings or cozy joggers paired with a versatile top that screams "I'm ready for anything!" Throw in a lightweight jacket or cardigan and a pair of warm socks for those unpredictable cabin temperatures, and you're good to go. I also love to pack a cozy oversized scarf, serving double duty as a pillow or extra layer if temperatures drop.

Next up, don't forget your in-flight survival kit. This should include all the essentials for staying refreshed and entertained during those marathon flights. Think moisturizing lotion and lip balm to combat dry airplane air, a travel-sized toothbrush and toothpaste for that mid-flight refresh, reusable water bottle, and of course, your trusty eye mask (this is my favorite sleep mask) and noise-canceling headphones for some much-needed shut-eye.


Layover Lounging: How to Make the Most of Your Airport Pit Stops

Ah, the dreaded layover – but fear not, fellow travelers! With a little creativity and some strategic planning, you can turn those airport pit stops into mini adventures. There are a few things to consider here:

  1. How long is your layover? Is it a few hours or 24 hours and more? 
  2. Is it a daytime layover or overnight?
  3. Are you staying at the airport or did you book a stay outside the airport? 

Let’s dive in! You can be strategic and visit another city if your layover is long enough. First, the journey to your final destination becomes more bearable and you can cross out another city from your list of places to visit! I almost always choose 24 hours and more for my layover for at least one part of my trip. Especially if you are flying to Europe, seeing not one, but two places is a great option! Make sure to consider whether you need visas if you venture out of the airport during your layover. 

Now, one thing to consider when it comes to longer layovers is the checked bag. If your layover is relatively short (usually less than 24 hours) and both flights are on the same airline or within the same airline alliance, there's a good chance your checked baggage will be automatically transferred to your connecting flight. This means you won't need to collect your bags during the layover. Make sure to research your airline’s rules and pack your carry-on accordingly. 

If you have a daytime layover, explore the airport! Many airports (especially the big ones) offer some fun activities, such as art exhibitions, cultural displays, guided tours, etc. Of course, you can also indulge yourself in duty-free shopping, foodie adventures or treat yourself to access to an airport lounge. 

For overnight layovers, consider bringing some extra snacks, just in case the shops are closed. Travel blanket, neck pillow and an eye mask would definitely be smart items to pack for overnight layovers.


Climate Change: How to Pack for Destinations with Drastically Different Weather

Now that you've mastered packing for layovers, let's tackle the challenge of packing for destinations with drastically different weather. From tropical paradises to winter wonderlands, it's important to pack smart and versatile pieces that can handle whatever Mother Nature throws your way.

Start by doing your homework. Research the weather forecast for your destination and plan your wardrobe accordingly. If you're going from hot to cold or vice versa, opt for lightweight, layerable pieces that can easily be mixed and matched to suit any climate.

Pro tip: Pack a packable parka or lightweight down jacket that can be easily stashed in your carry-on. This way, you'll be prepared for sudden temperature drops without sacrificing precious suitcase space. I've been a fan of Uniqlo's Ultra Light Down Coat for years, and what I particularly appreciate is its ability to conveniently fit inside the side pocket of my backpack.



So there you have it, fellow wanderers – my top tips for packing smart and staying comfortable during those long flights and layovers. With a little planning and some strategic packing, you'll be jet-setting in style and comfort in no time. If you enjoyed these tips, check out my other article: "How to Pack Your Suitcase Like a Pro", I think you will like it too!


Happy travels!


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