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Posted on June 14 2016

If you love to travel, then you know all about long flights.  Navigating international airports, managing cancelled connections, and plenty of long lines.  Here are a few things to pack for international flights that you might not have thought of.

1. Bring a pen in your carry on bag.

You will have to fill out customs paperwork that is distributed on the plane before landing in another country.  The flight attendants will have about 3 pens for entire plane... seriously.  Pack your own pen so that you can fill out the paperwork before landing.  This way, you can book it for the front of the customs line when you deplane and save yourself lots of time.  We recommend a ballpoint in a zip-lock- just in case the pressure causes an ink leak.  

2. Pack some nuts to keep from going nuts.

Long flights are one thing, but adding an extra few hours to an already long flight can be a major travel downer.

In the United States, there are Tarmac Delay Laws about how long you can wait on the airplane before taking off or deplaning.  The maximum wait time is 3 hours, and the airline must provide food and water within the first 2 hours of the delay.  

In our experience, not all countries or international airlines follow these guidelines.  We once sat 3 plus ours on a runway in Beijing for what we were told was a weather delay, but turns out was runway congestion.  Keep some nuts or other non-perishable high protein snack tucked in your carry on for times when your flight ends up being a little, or a lot, longer than you bargained for. 

3. A big scarf... or small blanket.

Aside from the little air vent overhead, there is little you can do to control the temperature on a flight.  Some flights will have blankets, but we learned that these are infrequently laundered from a flight attendant who apologized for a blanket smelling of feet.  This TravelSmith blanket is a great option.     

4. Backup earplugs.

Noise cancelling headphones are awesome.  I pack a Bose set for long flights, and they are wonderful.  Though, nothing quite beats a pair of earplugs.  They take up little space, don't rely on batteries, and they don't make your ears sore when worn for hours on end.  Earplugs in airport convenience stores are expensive, so get a box at a hardware store and have earplugs to spare.

5. Sanitizing wipes.

Hand Sanitizer is a great addition to a flight kit.  We actually like these Sanitizing Hand wipes a little better for their versatility and inherent leak proof design.  Clean your hands, or wipe down a questionable tray table.  

6. A photocopy of your credentials.   

When travelling, especially abroad, it's a good idea to have a photocopy of your passport tucked in a safe place.  Also, a digital picture on your phone can be handy should something happen to the original.


 Have anything we forgot or can't go without on a long flight?  Get in touch with us at and let us know what you cannot fly without.


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