crossing5oceans.com | Published December 13th, 2020 | Last Updated January 1st, 2021

Woman's purse, shoes, coat and carry-on in a grey hotel room

You've finished planning your trip, your bags are packed, and you’re off to the airport for your next great adventure. There’s so much excitement until the reality sets in that you'll be climbing aboard a not so comfortable plane for a significant period of time, and this may be coupled with a few hours of stop-over. Thankfully, you can check out the ten essential items below to make the flight more comfortable and get you happily to your next destination.

Clothing in Layers

1 - AN EXTRA LAYER OF CLOTHING GOES A LONG WAY - Planes are often colder as they reach cruising altitude; a light jacket and a pair of socks may be just the ticket to keep yourself warm.

Also, If you're spending time in an airport on a layover, these may come in handy to keep you toasty if you're spending much of that time sitting around. If you have circulation issues, it's advisable to use compression socks instead of traditional socks.

Pink lightweight jacket on white background

Pack lightweight sweaters or jackets for travel days


2 - HOW DID I BECOME SO ATTACHED TO A PILLOW AND BLANKET? Since my first day of travel, I have taken this LUG set with me; it has gone through multiple wash cycles and looks as good as the day I bought it. Inside the zippered cover (pictured below), is a rolled blanket and a pillow that inflates quickly and easily with the attached mouth piece. Since it's thick enough to stay put between the handles of my carry-on, it doesn’t take up precious space inside my luggage. I use it in hotels, airplanes, airports, and when taking road trips.

Grey fleece LUG pillow and blanket combination for travel

LUG pillow and blanket

Elevate your Feet

3 - USE A FOOT HAMMOCK OR SMALL CARRY-ON UNDER YOUR FEET - Airplanes are notoriously uncomfortable; any item that will help to make the seemingly endless flight hours more enjoyable is a definite win, and a foot hammock does just that. It elevates your feet, which will take pressure off the lower back.

It's important to check if the airline will allow footrests like the hammock pictured here. If not, try putting your carry-on under your feet if it's small enough to fit under the seat ahead of you.

Black foot hammock (foot rest) for airplane travel

Foot Hammocks Take Pressure off the Lower Back During a Long Flight

Neck Pillows

4 - THERE ARE NUMEROUS VARIATIONS OF NECK PILLOWS AVAILABLE - They have evolved over time to now include ones that are eco-friendly and have hypoallergenic fabrics. Personally, I like twistable neck pillows since you have multiple ways to shape them depending on your position and the use. These are especially great for hotel rooms as they will stretch into a long bolster for back support or can be placed between the knees while sleeping. Whichever you decide is right for you, try to ensure that it has a zippered case that can be removed and washed. These also don't need to take up room in your luggage since you can twist them around the handles of your carry-on.

Grey fleece twistable neck pillow with eyemask and travel bag

Twistable Neck Pillow with Removable Washable Sleeve


5 - Noise cancelling or noise isolating? The peace and quiet over-the-ear headphones give you during a flight or anywhere else is remarkable and the brand I swear by is Bose. My first pair were noise cancelling and unfortunately I couldn't hear any sound from my surroundings when I was hiking; great for a plane but not so great when a solo traveller is walking alone. The next pair I tried were Bose Soundlink II over-the-ear headphones. While not completely noise cancelling, these headphones have incredible sound quality and still seem superior to earbuds for reducing outside noises.

Black BOSE over the ear headphones on a white background

Bose Soundlink II Over-the-Ear Headphones

Charging Cables

6 - CHARGING CABLES FOR AIRPORT LAYOVERS - Be sure to have charging cables in your carry-on luggage to stay connected during airport downtime. Whether you’re visiting an airport lounge or staying in the terminal's main area, you can find an outlet and charge your devices while you wait. Some carry-ons, like this one are now equipped to charge electronics through USB, so keep the cables close at hand.

Rose gold and grey iPhone with attached charging cables on a white background

Have Charging Cables on Hand for Airport Layovers

Water Bottle

7 - THESE COLLAPSIBLE WATER BOTTLES ARE GREAT FOR TRAVEL - When you finish your beverage, the bottle can be collapsed into a virtually flat disc and attached to a bag with the included buckle for transport. The fewer items to lug around in an airport, the better, and this one gets an A+ grade for its versatility and usefulness. The exterior, while soft, seems to have held up so far to the wear and tear.

Grey silicone collapsible travel water bottle with silver buckle for transport

Collapsible Water Bottles are an Excellent Option for Travel


8 - USE YOUR PHONE, TABLET OR LAPTOP FOR ENTERTAINMENT - Before you depart for your trip, download movies, music and podcasts. While most flights offer movie and music options, what happens when you have a lengthy layover in an airport? By downloading your favourites before you leave, you'll have entertainment on the go without having to worry about finding wifi wherever you are.

There are a few ways to watch movies on your devices. Both of these options allow you to view the movies in airplane mode, no internet needed!

  • Download movies from Netflix or another streaming option that allows you to store media to your device temporarily.

  • Use an app like GPlayer. If you have an extensive library of already purchased movies, you can download them from your desktop to your tablet, phone or laptop through the GPlayer device.

Tablets, Phones and Laptops are Great Entertainment Options with Downloaded Movies, Music and Podcasts


9 - BRING ALONG A BIT OF CASH IN SMALL BANK NOTES - I always ensure to have cash on hand so that when I arrive, I can pay for a taxi or other airport transport that may not accept debit or credit cards. I also have money for tipping, and other smaller items I may need during my stay. Here are a few pointers to help you travel smart, and save some moolah while you're at it:

  • Don't exchange money at currency booths in the airport, or at your hotel. The exchange rates are exorbitant and not worth paying if you have the opportunity to plan ahead and take cash with you.

  • I use a site called KnigtsBridgeFX in Canada that allows me to get what I feel is the best deal on currency exchange before departing for my destination. I only carry a bit of cash with me and then rely mostly on my credit card for the duration of my trip.

  • Keep your cards in an RFID protected wallet. These wallets are a bit pricey, so if you don’t want to fork over the cost of a whole wallet, there are individual paper card protectors you can use instead. The set here also includes a passport protector.

  • To get the best bang for your buck, use your credit card while travelling. The reason for this is two-fold. First, you don't want to bring a large amount of cash from home, which leaves you with the option of ATMs and Credit Cards. ATMs across Europe called Euronet, and even some worldwide bank ATMs recognize your card as foreign and charge high fees and high exchange rates for your withdrawal. Second, when you use a credit card and charge in the local currency, you will pay lower fees and get a better exchange rate, so remember to choose 'Local Currency' when prompted. IMPORTANT NOTE: Be sure to check with your bank that your credit card does not charge for foreign transactions before using this option otherwise this will not save you from fees.

100 and 50 reais fanned out on a white background

Have Cash on Hand Before Arriving at Your Destination

Favourite Snacks

10 - DON'T FORGET YOUR FAVOURITE BITES - If you’re on a budget, it's best to buy snacks for a layover or long haul flight before arriving at the airport. Airport prices are inflated, and as a bonus, you may be able to bring that favourite snack that's not available in the terminals. For me, it's these yummy yogurt gummies!

Pink package with organic fruit gummies by Go Bio

Hopefully, these essentials will help get you through your next long haul flight or layover. You may also find this packing list helpful to start planning what to take with you when you head off to your next incredible destination!

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