In-Flight Survival Kit for Long-Haul Flights

PACKING: Crafting an In-Flight Survival Kit

Plus, keeping carry-on toiletries at the ready

I’ve been threatening to share this post for eons but finally snapped some photos to share two things: 1) my in-flight survival kit, especially useful for surviving long-haul flights; and 2) my pre-prepped toiletries bag that is always ready to go in case of an impromptu getaway (and because I tend to forget some toiletries when I pack last-minute).

The In-Flight Survival Kit

In-Flight Survival Kit for Long-Haul Flights

Alright, so first and foremost: my in-flight survival kit. I pack all of my must-haves in the small Eagle Creek packing cube (if you don’t use packing cubes, you must try them!), which is the perfect size for necessary toiletries for in flight. Now, everyone’s survival kit will be a bit different, but I find that long-haul flights are terribly dehydrating and I end up looking the like crypt keeper upon arrival. Generally I find that we hit the ground running when we arrive, so the puffy-eyed, zombie look is not so flattering in those day one photos.

My remedy – or at least an attempt at looking partially alive upon arrival – is staying extra-hydrated throughout the flight. First off, this means drinking water as much as possible and as often as I can remember, and trying not to drink too much caffeine or wine (though I usually do have a cup of coffee, and have a hard time saying no to a glass of wine in business class).  I always get my water with ice, and much to Scott’s chagrin I tend to use the ice cubes under my eyes which may actually do nothing but I find that it helps a bit with a pick-me-up and preventing puffy eyes.

Other things I find extremely helpful for in-flight:

  • Thick Face Cream/Mask: For a thick mask, I use the Glam Glow ThirstyMud Hydrating Treatmentwhich I’ll apply once or twice during the flight. It’s super rich (something I don’t like in daily use) and smells like vacation in a tube!
  • Eye Masks: I’ve recently purchased Skyn Iceland’s Firming Eye Gels, little portable packets with an under eye patch for each eye. I stash one of these in my in-flight survival kit to use a bit before landing (I literally leave them on for an hour or more). I used to use the Shiseido eye masks (which I also love) and do generally find that they provide a good hydration boost under eyes – that’s where I tend to notice it most after a long flight!
  • Facial Spray: I’m currently using the Mario Badescu Facial Spraybut have used the Mac Fix+ Spray before. There are a number of facial sprays out there, and while they seem like an absurd investment, I actually love having them on hand, especially in flight for a quick refresher.
  • Eye Drops: Lord, do my eyes get SO dry during a flight! If the puffiness isn’t bad enough, there’s nothing like getting off a plane with bloodshot eyes that make you look like you’re on the verge of death. Sometimes eye drops don’t even totally help but I try to apply throughout the flight and upon landing to help clear the redness.
  • Lip Balm: I bounce back and forth between Burt’s Bees and St. Martin-based Caribe Baie from Tijon. Both are minty and hydrating – I use on my lips and around my nose (yeah, I’m one of those people) to prevent cracking, plus the minty-ness is a serious mood booster.
  • Dry Shampoo: Y’all, I wash my hair once a week (not even embarrassed about it) and my hair is so much healthier for it! That being said, I always carry a bottle of dry shampoo on me for a quick refresher and extra bounce when I’m prepping to get off a plane. I love the Living Proof version but I’m content to use most versions that smell good and don’t leave residue.
  • Deodorant: There are times we exit a plane and go immediately to a point of interest. Deodorant (and wipes if you have them!) are great to help you feel a little less grimy from the get-go.
  • Travel-Sized Perfume: I only ever buy travel-sized perfume. Regular sized bottles are too big anyway, and travel-sized makes it easy to take your favorite fragrance anywhere. See the point about deodorant above.
  • Toothpaste + Toothbrush: Again, 10 – 20 hours on a plane is a recipe for a bit of griminess, mouth included. Toothbrush and toothpaste are essential for a quick brush before landing!

See more of my pre-arrival ritual when landing from a long-haul flight!

Pre-Prepped Hanging Toiletry Kit

In-Flight Survival Kit for Long-Haul Flights

I always have my hanging toiletry kit stocked. There are a bazillion varieties of toiletry bags out there and Nordstrom always has a nice selection of high-quality hanging versions for travelers (this one from Tumi, for example). I can’t gush about this thing enough. Mine’s on its last legs but it comes with me everywhere and is permanently stocked with toiletries. The hanging part is key for me, too – it easily hangs from a hook or mirror to display everything neatly.

I use the top section for skin care products, the center section for hair care products, and the bottom section for miscellaneous items like my eye masks, Tide pen and other bits that won’t fit as well into the other portions. All sections zip so you don’t have to worry about leakage in flight, and clear or mesh sections make it easy to identify your products at a glance. In the thin, zippable back portion I keep packets of medication and double-stick tape.

I’m a sucker for those luxury travel-sized products and samples from resorts and beauty stores. Many of the skin care products in my kit are freebies from Sephora – either free with purchase or part of a special – and they are ideal for travel. I use refillable bottles the majority of the time, and always keep a small bottle filled with my favorite conditioner for when I travel. I find that conditioners at hotels tend to be a bit hit or miss and even five-star properties don’t always hit the mark on conditioners that do the job. Since I don’t wash my hair that often, a travel sized container will usually last me a while. Other must-haves for me are travel-sized sunscreens (I love the facial sunscreen by Equitance), day and night moisturizers, toner, Vitamin C serum, beach spray, a face cleanser, and one small scrub. I always pack those luxe little freebies (melty face masks, beauty balms, anti-aging serums) for getaways so I can test them out!

Having a pre-stocked kit has made packing super simple and this kit keeps everything so well-organized for travel. We’ve been trying to travel carry-on only the majority of the time and this fits perfectly into a rolling bag, right alongside my ever-present packing cubes.

I still have a bit of packing in preparation for our African adventure but toiletries? Check. ✔️

You can also see my post on carry-on essentials!

Do you do anything special to prep for long-haul flights?

Shannon Kircher, The Wanderlust Effect

More about Shannon Kircher

Shannon Kircher is the founder and editor of The Wanderlust Effect, formerly The Traveling Scholar. Founded in 2009, she has continued to document her international escapes as an expat in Europe and the Caribbean. She is a former resident of London and San Francisco and now calls the island of Anguilla home. In addition to The Wanderlust Effect, Shannon is the Director of Marketing for the Frangipani Beach Resort and is on the Board of Directors of the Omololu International School in Anguilla.