Carry-on checklist

Your Carry-On Checklist for that Long Haul Flight

So you booked your flight halfway around the world! In all of the excitement, you realize you may have overestimated your ability to pass time. I mean, sleep and movies can only do so much, right? Now you’re stuck figuring out how to get through this 14-hour flight, without going insane. Well, you’re in luck! Here are my tried-and-true carry-on items that will leave you wondering how time flew so quickly in the air.

Read more: Travel packing list for digital nomads.

1. Important Documents and Identification

Perhaps the most important items you’ll want to safely pack will be the papers needed to, well, start the journey. Items like your passport and a second form of authorized identification like your driver’s license will all be vital. Write down or take pictures of your flight number and confirmation code upon booking. It will also be useful to send these to a trusted family member just in case.

Check-in typically becomes available 24 hours before your flight, so hop online and snap a picture of your completed check-in as well. If you have time, you can print out your boarding pass (however this can also be done at the airport/scanned from your phone). Depending on your destination, it may also be useful to bring your health insurance card and copies of your vaccinations from your physician.

2. A Travel Journal or Notebook

I know sometimes journaling can seem tedious. But the joy you get reminiscing on the words you wrote years later about your excitement on this trip, will be well worth it. Write down your thoughts and hopes for this adventure and what you’re most excited to see! Or play hangman, either way works.

Our recommendation: A simple Moleskin notebook goes a long way!

3. Headphones and Music

An essential distraction to pass the time, and a great way to amp yourself up for the journey ahead! Spotify premium is my favorite and offers a relatively cheap subscription package. Side note – don’t forget to create your playlists / save your podcasts, and DOWNLOAD them to the app before your trip. This way you can still listen to your music without the hassle of paying for spotty inflight Wi-Fi access.

Our recommendation: Sony’s noise cancelling headphones. Also a great way to reduce the ambient noise for some quiet time.

4. Sudoku or Crossword Puzzle Book

These are perfect for those times you just get tired of technology and want to reminisce about being a kid again. They’ll take up minimal space in your bag and prevent your device batteries from draining. When you’re done, just throw the book away or pass it on to another traveler. Don’t forget a pencil!

Our recommendation: Funster’s 1000+ Sudoku puzzle book. You’ll have enough even for an 12 hour long flight!

5. Comfy Eye Mask and Neck Pillow:

You might be too excited to sleep, but you’ll be glad to have them just in case. A silky-soft eye mask and cushy pillow will help you to feel more rested as you begin the next leg of your trip. If you buy a pillow with a button or strap attachment (most have them), you can simply attach it to the outside of your bag for easy access and space saving. Grab them before your journey, airports love to upcharge on these popular products. If the flight’s a little shorter, you can always use the simple method of tying a sweatshirt around your waist and using it as a pillow on the flight.

Our recommendation: Everlasting Comfort Memory Foam Travel Pillow. It comes with an eye mask and some earplugs as well.


I’ve never met a person that said they enjoyed airplane food. Keep it simple with trail mix, crackers, and candy. Plus you get to avoid paying $10 for a bag of airport chips, woohoo!

Our recommendation: The Power Up Trail Mix which includes almonds, cashews, raisins, pumpkin seeds, peanuts and cherries!

7. Reading Material

If you don’t already have a good book at home, buy one ahead of time at your local store. Or opt for magazines that can be thrown away when you’re finished. The completed book can also be passed along for more space saving. Check out our list of the best books for digital nomads.

8. Extra Change of Clothes

More often than not, you’ll be stepping into a new climate when you land. Having an extra outfit to change into can come in handy big time, especially if you layered on the flight to save room in your bags. Stepping off the plane into the tropics in hiking books and 4 pullovers just isn’t fun.

9. Chargers and Converters

The last thing a digital nomad wants to do when he/she arrives at their destination is to worry about a dead phone and finding an outlet. Most, if not all, international flights provide outlets next to your seat to charge your devices. Bring a universal converter in your bag for easy access in case the airplane outlets are different from your country’s.

Our recommendation: EPICKA’s Universal Travel Adapter covers more than 150 countries and comes with USB ports as well as USB type C.

10. Deck of Cards

It’s small, practical, and can be used for drinking games when you meet new friends on your trip.

Our recommendation: Bicycle Playing Cards. Nice cards that are made in the USA.

11. Melatonin and Aspirin

Be sure to bring any essential medications in their original containers for TSA safety purposes. Melatonin is a great natural way to help you sleep on your flight. If you plan accordingly, it can be taken so that when you arrive you’ll already be well adjusted to your new destination’s time zone!

Our recommendation: Natrol Melatonin Fast Dissolve Tablets. Melatonin will help you with the jetlag.

12. Reusable Water Bottle

Airports also like to upcharge water, and many international destinations price more for water than in the USA. Save on the extra costs by bringing one you can reuse and look for the nearest water fountain available when you land.

Our recommendation: You can’t go wrong with a Klean Kanteen water bottle!

13. Toothbrush and Toothpaste

Long flights near lots of people, nuff’ said. I always opt to purchase a cheap toothbrush with a removable cover that keeps it clean. That way you can spare the hassle of reusing the same Ziploc bag all trip and you can just toss it when you arrive home.

Our recommendation: A bamboo charcoal toothbrush is good for your teeth and the environment.

14. Miscellaneous

Inflight oxygen is brought in from the atmosphere around the plane and rigorously filtered, making it a great deal drier. Small, lifesaver items such as eye drops, lip balm, and tissues will make this journey much more enjoyable. Other miscellaneous items like a comb and mascara will help you feel put together even though you’ve just traveled halfway across the world.

Carry-ons are the survival kit for a new journey. They help you feel prepared and set the tone for an amazing experience. Tell us about the longest flight you’ve ever been on and what your packing essentials are in the comments below!

PS: And if you’re looking for the perfect backpack, check out our list of best backpacks for digital nomads.

Digital Nomad Newsletter

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *