Best Carry On Packing Tips for Long Haul Flights in Economy

Best Carry-On Packing Tips


Having endured, over the years, a ton of long haul economy flights across the globe, I’m pretty well versed in the best carry on packing tips!

The following list was put to the test on the recent flight I took from Brisbane to London and I can confirm that nothing was left wanting!

So here are my tried and tested best carry on packing tips for long haul flights in economy…

Related Posts

This page contains affiliate links meaning Big World Small Pockets may receive a small commission on any purchases at no extra cost to you.

Know Your Limits

Packing Cubes 3

The first thing to do before you start packing anything for a long haul flight in economy is to decide what you will be packing it in i.e. what bag will you be taking.

All airlines vary on their economy baggage inclusion rules, so make sure you check your flight’s exact specifications before you select a bag.

The average limits for carry-on in economy class are around 10kg in weight with a maximum 45cm x 36cm x 20cm size bag. Any bigger or heavier than this and the airlines are going to charge you … Big time!

Excess luggage fees are a massive source of income for airlines these days, so make sure you stick to your travel budget by not blowing any of it before you’ve even taken off!

My recommended carry on bags include:

Small suitcases, like the Travelpro Luggage Maxlite3 International Carry-On Spinner, are popular models.

Alternatively, a great backpack, like the LemonBest 20l, can also be useful.

Similarly, North Face offer a nice range of duffel bags perfect for carry on.

And if you’re having trouble getting everything into your carry on bag, then don’t forget packing cubes can be an awesome help in this area! You can read more about my conversion to packing cubes and why I’m now a sold-up fan of them here!


Download Your FREE eBooklet
5 Great Reasons to Work & Travel + Tips

Just enter your details below and I'll email it you - simple!

Information will be sent to the email provided above




First things first!

Any liquids, pastes and gels over 100ml must be placed in your checked luggage.

Any under 100ml can be taken in your carry on luggage, but need to be placed in a clear, sealable plastic bag when going through security.

One of my best carry on packing tips is to do this before you leave home.

This means you can avoid the queues of people trying to organise their toiletries at airport security! Normally, I just use a zip-lock or sandwich bag to display any such liquids.

All other toiletries I keep in an easily accessible, small wash bag. Don’t forget to pack any medications or supplement you might need during the flight into your carry on.

My list of essential toiletries include:
  • Toothbrush & Toothpaste: Keep your mouth feeling fresh with a mini toothpaste and brush set. Just make sure the toothpaste doesn’t exceed the 100ml restriction.
  • Deodorant: Everyone gets smelly when they sit in the same clothes for days, but making sure you keep fresh will help you to feel better.
  • Lip Balm: Dry air on planes is a nightmare for cracked lips, which can easily become split and sore. I love Burt Bees Natural Range, which won’t melt or dry out in high altitude conditions.
  • Face & Body Moisturiser: Air conditioning on the plane will dry your skin out in no time, so keep feeling refreshed and alive with  a natural moisturiser.
  • Wet Wipes & Tissues: Good for colds that can occur from long-haul flights, as well as cleaning up sticky fingers, or freshening up faces and underarms!



Travel Snacks

Economy classes aren’t known for having the best quality food, so if you care about your health or you’re likely to get a bit peckish onboard I definitely recommend packing some healthy snacks.

As a vegan, I’m definitely a bit hard to please when it comes to food, so although airlines now make a real effort to provide a great array or food to suit dietary requirements, a few extra snacks to make sure I stay happy and not hungry on long haul flights in economy are a great idea.

My list of essential food include:
  • Nuts & Dried Fruits: Healthy snacks are essential to help you feel good in the air. Although make sure you don’t take peanuts onboard however, as people with severe allergies can still suffer just from being in close proximity to them.
  • Oranges and Apples: Durable fruits that won’t get squashed easily are a good idea to take on the plane with you, although you have to be careful regarding border restrictions on the export or import of fresh goods.
  • Muesli or Snack Bars: Easy to transport and individually wrapped – small bars are a great idea. Just make sure you watch the sugar content in them, as many can be sweets discussed as health food!
  • Herbal Teas: In case the airline doesn’t have any, herbal tea bags are great to bring along. Not only can they help keep you hydrated, but flavours such as peppermint and ginger can aid with digestion – which is a great help for your body when you’ve been sat down for long hours. Herbal teas are also a cheap way to get a drink when you’re stuck in airport layovers. Avoid paying for coffee, which will make it harder for you to sleep. Instead ask the café just to give you a cup of hot water. Dunk in your herbal teabag and enjoy for free!



Compression Socks

Long haul flights in economy are uncomfortable, that’s a given, but there are several best carry on packing tips you can employ to help the journey go more smoothly.

In particular, anything that helps you get some much-needed shut-eye will be good, as sleeping well on long flights really is the key to feeling refreshed and limiting the effects of jet lag.

My list of essential comforts include:
  • Eye Mask & Ear Plugs: While airlines do dim the cabin lights during hours of darkness, trying to get some sleep at other times of the day or when their serving food can be difficult without an eye mask. Additionally, no matter how quiet it is, people around you will still be making noise, so taking some ear plugs can help to shut some of it out and you help you sleep better.
  • Travel Pillow: I love this pillow, which is expertly designed to help support your neck and head so that you can sleep more comfortably without any extra strain.
  • Compression Socks: Really helpful for people whose legs have a tendency to swell up on long flights – like me! The best way to reduce the risk of DBT, many doctors recommending wearing some of these no matter if your legs swell or not.
  • Change of Clothes: Putting on fresh underwear, socks and shirt at your arrival airport can help you feel so better after a long flight. You’ll feel fresher and nobody will realise you haven’t showered for days! A spare change of clothes can also be a godsend in case your checked luggage gets lost or delayed!




What are your best carry on packing tips?

I’d love to hear some more ideas for my next flight in the comments box below…

6 thoughts on “Best Carry On Packing Tips for Long Haul Flights in Economy

  1. Kirsty Marrins says:

    Great tips! I love the herbal teabag one… I had honestly never thought of that – such a great idea. My top tip is, if like me you find it rather cold on flights, to take a blanket. The thin blankets they give you onboard just don’t do the trick. I also always take a fresh pair of clothes with me – particularly if you are landing in a different climate. Kirsty – What Kirsty did next

    • Steph says:

      Hi Elvi! No, I use a natural aluminium-free deodorant – a crystal mineral salt stick! Check it out here (affiliate link). They are such good value for money, easy to travel with and last for ages – highly recommended 🙂

Leave a Reply

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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.