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International Travel Essentials: To Make the Long Flight Manageable

by Diane Green

Even flying at an average speed of over 500 mph it’s going to take 12 hours to get from Chicago to Tokyo. Chicago to Sydney? A short jaunt from Chicago to Toronto, 11 hours from Toronto to Sydney and an extended layover between connecting flights. Filling your carry-on bag with in-flight essentials is the first step to a comfortable, less stressful hop across the International Date Line.

When packing, keep in mind that each airline has specific size and weight limitation for in-cabin luggage. Space in the overhead bin is limited and you have to share your personal foot space with your carry-on.

Travel Kit

A mini safety kit is a must-have for every trip. Include a variety of sizes and types of bandages and individual packets of ointment. Fastening the seatbelt in cramped spaces can result in pinched fingers more often than you might imagine.

Condé Nast editor, Wendy Perrin, suggests sleep aids, artificial tears to combat the dry cabin air, Vitamin C and earplugs to block out the ambient noise that naturally comes from putting hundreds of people in a tight space.


Pack your smartphone, laptop and favorite reader. But these great tools are worthless without the charging equipment, so be sure to pack a multi-plug outlet and universal adapter.

Your phone and other portable devices will keep you connected and entertained on long-haul domestic and international flights. Expanded WiFi services with high-bandwidth connections make in-flight activities for work and play easy and convenient.

Let’s face it: there isn’t really a one-size-fits-all movie. Those in-flight flicks leave something to be desired for many travelers. Pack your personal headset in your carry-on to get the most out of movies downloaded to your iPad or laptop. You can get a good set with noise-canceling capabilities for under $100 online. Remember to get a headphone adapter for in-flight use.

Since Google updated its Google Translate App for offline use, you can spend some time on the flight brushing up on your language skills or practicing how to order your bacon and over-easy once you land. You can translate phrases by text or speech; you can hear your translation in 24 languages of the 64 language available for translation offered, according to the Google Translate website.

Comfort Items and Necessities

Most veteran travelers have a few standard items that they pack for every trip. Along with your essential technology and a change of clothes, in case your checked luggage takes an unscheduled detour, include the following in your carry-on:

  1. A pair of comfortable socks to aid in circulation.
  2. Personal hygiene items: toothbrush, comb, travel size mouthwash, etc.
  3. A small personal pillow or a blow up version that takes less space when collapsed.
  4. Several small bags of snacks—trail mix, sliced fruit and hard candy.
  5. Medication and copies of prescriptions—some countries frown on pill boxes, check with your airline to find out if your destination will require original containers for medications.
  6. Passport and travel documents.
  7. Swimwear—for a relaxing dip in the hotel pool after you land to offset the effects of jet lag.
  8. Reading glasses and protective case.
  9. Address book, paper and pens for letter-writing or note-taking.

International flights are long, but they don’t have to be boring or stressful. In fact, with WiFi and a well-stocked carry-on, your flight can be quite enjoyable.

Diane Green Diane is a freelance writer from Washingon D.C.

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