Hand Luggage Essentials

Whether you’re travelling with hold and hand luggage, or you’ve just got a carry-on holdall, it’s worth giving some thought to the things you might need during your flight to make it an altogether better flight experience.

Check out our recommended must-have hand luggage essentials to ensure your flight gets off to the best possible start:

Travel Air Pillow
Although these little pillows may not look like a must, believe it or not, they are brilliant!

Unless you’re in business class, sleeping on a plane is a struggle for most of us, but it’s much easier with one of these.

Flat packed, they fit nicely into your hand luggage; simply blow it up once on board. Opt for a pillow with a fabric outer cover - those with plastic covers can be uncomfortable, sore on the seams and get sweaty. Save money by buying one before you travel as they are often more expensive at the airport.

Travel pillows are great for kids too, and some even come in fun patterns and designs.

Boiled Sweets
Gone are the days when airlines handed out boiled sweets on takeoff to prevent painful ear popping. So don’t forget to pack a bag of sweets in your bag, but be sure not to eat them all – save some for your return journey.

To help prevent children’s ears from hurting on take off and landing give them a drink. Drinking slowing - ideally through a straw - gives a continued gulping motion that helps prevent pressure build up that causes painful ears.

Wet Wipes
Wet wipes help travellers young and old freshen up before landing. They take up little room in your luggage, and if you spill anything they do a great job of cleaning up any marks on clothing.

Chewing Gum
If you don’t want to pack a mini washbag in your hand luggage then pack some minty chewing gum to help freshen up, especially worthwhile remembering if you plan to nod off for a bit and wake up with ‘morning breath’.

Electrical Devices
Most of us travel with some kind of electronic device, so consider downloading a movie or two and your favourite music to help while away the hours on a flight, particularly for short-haul flights which don't have in-flight entertainment.

Don't forget the new security rules that state that all electronic devices should be fully charged before boarding a plane. If you cannot switch on the device when requested, you will not be able to take it on board.

Pen & Paper
You’d be amazed how often you need pen or paper whilst you’re away. Even on a flight – why not jot down an itinerary or plan of action for while you’re away?

Warm Blanket/Cardi/Coat
If you luck out and end up sitting underneath the aircraft’s air conditioning unit you will be cold, or dare we say it, freezing. So unless you like the cold, or want to pay for a blanket that’s for sale on the airline, pack a cardigan, coat or even blanket in your hand luggage. If you have a big scarf it can do the same thing, and more! Fold it up and it makes for a great pillow, or wrap it around you to keep you nice and warm.

As mentioned, flights can get very cold and many travellers wearing sandals or shoes without socks or tights end up with very cold feet, so pack a warm pair of socks to be on the safe side.

Snacks & Drinks
Yes, contrary to popular belief, you can take your own food and drink onto a plane so bag yourself a picnic lunch and avoid overpriced on-board snacks, food and refreshments. For health and safety reasons, most airlines don't permit hot drinks to be taken onboard, but you are free to take other drinks.

Odds & Sods
It’s also worth remembering to pack a few other essential items in your hand luggage too:

  • Medication – paracetamol etc. as well as any prescribed medicines you may be taking 
  • Magazines & books
  • Hair brush
  • Make-up – ensure all items, such as lipstick and mascara, are 100ml or less and carried in a clear plastic, resealable bag
  • Deodorant
  • Moisturiser - the air on-board an aeroplane can be very drying
  • Lip balm – same reason, your lips can dry out, especially after a long flight
  • Hair bands
  • Bottle of water – purchase one in the Departure Lounge.