What to Pack in Your Carry-On for International Flights

Most people nowadays have been on a flight for personal or business reasons. Some, however, have never experienced an international flight which can be a much different story. While the average international flight length is six hours, some can be ten to twelve and the longest, from Dallas to Sydney, Australia, is a whopping 16 hours. That’s a long time being cooped up in an airplane! If you have an international flight scheduled, you need to pay attention to what you pack in your carry-on. Here are some must-have items that make your trip easier to endure.

Noise Cancelling Headphones

You can probably handle the engine sounds (and all the other various noises) that happen on a 3-hour flight, but they can become much more troublesome when you’re exposed to them for 10 hours. Bring some noise-cancelling headphones that will help you relax and sleep and can even save your sanity if you’re seated in front of incessant talkers or unhappy babies.

A Small Blanket or Sweater

Flights have unpredictable temps. If you’re sitting next to someone who blasts the fan the entire trip or if the flight crew goes a little A/C happy, you could be in for some frozen misery. Though many flights will give out a limited number of small blankets, it’s always best to plan ahead and bring your own. You can pack a cardigan or hoodie to throw on if you get chilly or a small blanket to wrap yourself up in for a cozy nap.

Travel Pillow

Depending on your flight, you may want a half hour snooze or a full-blown 8 hours of sleep to be fresh when you get to your destination. You don’t want to be at the mercy of whatever type of pillow (if any) the airline gives out, so it’s well worth the hassle to bring your own. Even if you have to haul it around the airport and in your cab, you’ll thank yourself for bringing it when you’re ready to shut your eyes and need to get comfy.


When you’re flying internationally, you usually to fill out forms while on the plane to legally enter a new country. When this happens, you usually see a mad scramble for passengers to borrow pens from the flight crew’s limited supply. Be one of the few who comes prepared with an easily accessible writing utensil. If you really want to make some friends on the flight, bring extras!

A Book, Magazines, or Other Hobby Material

Short flights are easily passed with some daydreaming, an in-flight cocktail, and idle conversation with random passengers. International flights usually don’t play by the same rules. If you don’t want to go crazy with boredom, make sure you pack the novel you’re reading, a few interesting magazines, or whatever else will keep you entertained for a few hours.

Wet Wipes

You never know what will happen when you’re stuck in an enclosed space for 6-16 hours with a bunch of strangers. Spilled coffee, sticky children, and stress sweat are just a few of the conditions you may encounter and you’ll be glad you packed some wet wipes when you do. If nothing else, these are very handy for a little sponge bath in the bathroom when you’re coming off 14 hours of no showering and are facing another 2 hours on a bus to reach your final destination.

Some of the most exciting places in the world to visit involve an international flight. If you’re about to embark on a flight that will take you over oceans or thousands of miles of land, do some smart packing to make it as enjoyable as possible.