I’m usually one of the most prepared people you ever meet other than if you meet me at a new place for lunch and I will always take the wrong freeway exit and thus be late. In my latest solo international excursion, I ran into a few walls in whichI immediately learned from — the hard (and the best) way.
This will be part of the How to Survive International Travel series and here, we will tackle the five must-have items you will need.
#1 Soft Pants (Joggers or Leggings)
Jeans seem to be the automatic go-to for any occasion so it would only naturally make sense for me to throw my favorite pair before heading to the airport. Nope, wrong! It turns out what works well on the street doesn’t necessarily work out on the flight. I’ve gained some weight since five years ago (that’s how old my jeans are) and since they are a bit tight, they were really difficult to move around in on the plane. Imagine feeling like a statue for 14+ hours.
When I landed, I picked up a pair of soft pants at H&M for only $10 so my legs would be in a comfortable spot on my return flight. I’ve replaced them as my to-go bottoms (if I’m only running errands) ever since I returned.
It’s also doesn’t hurt that drapey, soft pants are a trend so I wasn’t afraid of walking out like I was in my pajamas. I know joggers and leggings are a comfortable option as well, but now that I have my soft pants, I can’t really go back to leggings. You know me and my love for breezy pieces.
#2 Neck Pillow
I saw these when I was searching for a roller suitcase at Target. They retailed from $20-40, depending on the quality. Since it’s not something I would use everyday, neither $20 or $40 is worth it. I will never get my cost-per-wear for this closet item. I ended up getting one for $7 (the same quality as the $40 one from Target) at a smaller local retailer overseas.
You’ll definitely want one of these if take-off is at night and you’ll spend most of your time sleeping. It only gets worse when the two people next to you are strangers and you feel like you’re being held hostage in the middle. The neck pillow not only gives your neck support, but it also keeps your head fixated in one area so it doesn’t venture into someone else’s territory. This is the one time during the trip where it felt nice to travel with a boyfriend (or two) so you have one head rest on each side. 😉
I’ve seen people where the moment they are seated, they take off their shoes and throw on their slippers even for flights where it’s only a little over an hour. This isn’t a must-have for me, but you’ll definitely want to take off your shoes whether you have slippers or not.
#4 Oversized Zip Hoodie (or Blanket)
It really surprised me that people will lug a blanket onboard only to use it once, but comfort is king I suppose. In that case, I definitely wasn’t prepared, but even if I knew it was common, I wouldn’t have brought it because it takes up an entire small bag in itself. I like traveling freely and the last thing I want to take care of is another bag/item that I will only use once on the trip.
What I did realize is that my oversized hoodie (yup, XL) did the trick and I’ve never felt more safe and sound than when I’m wearing this piece. With the hoodie, you will be wearing it on and off the flight and it can be paired with other pieces throughout your trip as well.
I love my new one from Tommy Hilfiger, a brand that I’ve never paid any attention to previously.
I understand that hoodies aren’t necessarily fashion-worthy, but I’ve gone through many of them since high school and I can safely say that a branded one does look higher in quality — you can see and feel it.
It even has a small branded logo on your left sleeve if that’s something that matters to you.
#5 Sleeping Mask
The lights would be turned off if it’s a night flight because the expectation is that you will be sleeping, but if you know you’ll be a light sleeper, slip a cute sleeping mask in your purse. It’s ultimately a “do not disturb” sign for your face.
What do you think?
Besides the slippers where I can forgo, the other items make a noticeable difference between my going and return flight. Although the neck pillow is a bit bulky to carry around, it’s well worth it. The pants and hoodie, you’ll be wearing already, which is part of my seamless, minimalistic style of traveling philosophy.
What are your must-have items for your long flights? Let me know, especially if it’s not something that I already mentioned.