Flying Comfortably: Your Ultimate Guide to Essential Travel Items

It’s safe to say that most people love vacationing and tolerate the air travel necessary to take them there. Even though airlines do their best to give passengers a comfortable experience, there’s no way to avoid every inconvenience that comes with an enclosed airplane. 

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Thankfully, it doesn’t take much to elevate an okay experience into a comfortable one—if you know what to pack for the plane, that is.

The first step? Understanding what flying essentials means to you. After deciding between a carry-on vs a checked bag, you can curate your carry-on luggage and create the perfect in-flight kit so you have easy access to comfort, entertainment, and amenities.

Know What Flying Essentials to Pack

First, you’ll need to know what to keep in your carry-on bag, including anything you might need for check-in, in-flight entertainment, and clearing customs on the other side (plus immediate essentials like medication, on the off chance that your checked luggage is lost or delayed).

Flight essentials will depend on the person, but most people find some or all of these categories to be useful1:

  • Toiletry items – Travel-sized toothbrushes, floss, mouthwash, a comb or hairbrush, hand lotion, lip balm, a makeup bag organizer, and facial wipes can help feel fresh for a long haul flight, so you can start your adventure on the right foot.
  • Medical needs – Don’t forget to pack essential medications, ointments or lotions that require re-application, pain medication, anti-nausea or anti-vertigo pills, and any other remedy you may need while in the air. Make sure to stay hydrated with an empty water bottle to fill up after getting through security.
  • Hand sanitizer – To avoid having to climb over your neighbors to use the airplane lavatory, keep a bottle of sanitizer handy to use before and after meals.
  • Extra clothes – Keeping an extra pair of socks, underwear, pants, and a shirt in your travel pack can save you some trouble in the event of an emergency, and will ensure your comfort on an especially long flight. It can also help you adapt to the constantly fluctuating temperatures inside the plane, or prepare you for the different climate of your destination.
  • Important tech – Your phone, laptop, or tablet should be kept with you, along with charging cables or a portable charger for greater convenience. Not only can you use them for in-flight entertainment, but this way, you don’t have to worry about lost luggage or damaged items.

If you’re traveling abroad and plan to use your electronics like normal, having an eSIM card downloaded ahead of time will also make for a seamless transition.

In addition to this general list, you can improve your travel experience significantly by packing the right sleep essentials and entertainment—two categories that are highly personal.

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How to Sleep Well on Your Flight

If you’re preparing for your first overnight flight, or are taking a longer flight than ever before, here are a few things to keep in mind to beat jet lag:

  • Planes and passengers are often noisy
  • Temperatures inside planes are usually colder, but can change significantly
  • The air in a plane is quite dry
  • You may experience turbulence
  • Your ears may become plugged due to the change in elevation

These factors are largely out of your control, but what you pack isn’t. Here are some long haul flight essentials if you plan on catching a wink up in the air2:

  • Eye mask – A comfortable eye mask can keep out any unwanted light from fellow passengers or open windows.
  • Ear plugs or headphones – Drown out the sound of noisy passengers or the rumble of the plane’s engines with ear plugs or noise-canceling headphones. Try listening to white noise or a soft, quiet playlist for extra relaxation.
  • Neck and lower back travel pillow – A neck pillow will help prevent that uncomfortable crick from sleeping in a strange position, and lower back pillows help maintain proper spinal alignment, which can be difficult in standard airplane seating.
  • A travel blanket or jacket – The ideal temperature for sleeping is between 60 and 67°F, so it doesn’t hurt to keep a travel blanket on hand for extra warmth.
  • Comfortable socks and shoes – Studies show that taking your shoes off and keeping your feet warm can help you sleep better, but your fellow passengers may not appreciate the sudden shoe removal. Consider wearing comfortable, warm shoes, instead, or having slippers for the plane. Many passengers also find compression socks helpful, as they prevent swelling that’s all too common while traveling.
  • Sleep aids – You can always bring melatonin supplements or another sleep aid if you want to minimize jet lag or if you have difficulty sleeping in sub-optimal settings.

It’s a good idea to consider packing these travel essentials even for a short flight, especially if your plane takes off before dawn. Though you might reach for an espresso to keep yourself awake, items such as a travel pillow, ear plugs, and a sleep mask ensure you have the opportunity to rest comfortably should you find yourself unexpectedly sleepy. 

Pro tip: Employing smart packing hacks can help you maximize space and keep your carry-on organized, ensuring you have easy access to your in-flight essentials.

How to Keep Yourself Entertained

Most airlines have in-flight entertainment these days, but it never hurts to pack your own. Tailor your  travel backpack to the activities that will keep your attention. You can consider:

  • Playing mobile games or video games
  • Reading a book
  • Journaling or writing
  • Listening to music or a podcast
  • Studying or working, so you can better enjoy your vacation

If your flight offers Wi-Fi, you have even more options. You can bring a laptop, tablet, or use your phone to browse your favorite websites, stream movies and shows, or chat with friends.

Prepare For Your Destination with Maya Mobile

Feeling calm, rested, and content is the best start to any vacation. With a little forethought, it’s easy to enjoy your flight and initial period after landing. Beyond your documents, extra clothes, toiletries, video games, and other personal items, make sure you’re ready to deplane and start exploring by downloading a Maya Mobile eSIM card for your specific destination. 

Whether your luggage is delayed and you have to call your airline or travel insurance agency to coordinate, you’re too exhausted to wait for public transportation and decide to book an Uber, or you simply want to let your friends and family know you’ve arrived safely, a prepaid or unlimited eSIM will allow you to do all that and more with ease. 

So pack smart and enjoy your vacation to the fullest, starting with the plane ride!


  1. U.S. News. 28 Things You Should Always Pack in Your Carry-on Bag. 
  2. Casper. 15 Science-Backed Tips for Sleeping on a Plane.