Useful travel tips for long-haul flights from a digital nomad

Are you prepared for your next adventure?


My friends jokingly call me a “professional traveller”, and I couldn’t have put it better myself. When I applied for my Masters degree at UCL, I was asked to write down all of the flights I’ve taken in the last 3 years. That was a fun challenge counting all my stamps…it totalled 72 flights (and that was whilst I was a full-time undergrad student)!! Nowadays I permanently travel, seeing the world and discovering new cultures, and since I sometimes feel like I live in airports, I wanted to give you my top tips on flying to make your journey as comfortable and as fun as possible.

Take warm clothes with you on the plane

This is my #1 tip for 3 reasons:

  • Most of the time it’s freezing on planes
  • If its not, you can use the clothes as a pillow
  • Saves you luggage space

If you don’t have warm clothes, at least take some warm socks with you. We like to keep our feet warm, and you can even walk in them if your feet hurt – I had to do that just recently in London. Yes…I walked through all of central London and 2 airports in my socks ???? A shawl or a sarong is also a nice thing to have, you can use it as a blanket or a pillow.

Fill your jacket pockets with stuff

Let’s face it, it’s almost impossible to keep to the 10kg hand luggage rule, and whereas in some countries you can get away with it, in many European airports they do check the weight of your bag. Buy taking a jacket full of pockets (aka RyanWear lol), not only will you have followed tip #1, but you’ll also have some extra space to fill up with stuff.

Take spare clothes and get changed just before you fly

We like to look pretty, but we also want to be comfortable on the flight. Last thing you want to do is sit for 13 hours in skinny jeans and a tight bra. By getting changed just before boarding, you will feel comfortable during your flight and you can change back into your nice clothes when you land.

This is also important because it’s always good to have spare clothes with you for 2 reasons: in case the weather is different at your destination or in case your luggage gets lost and you’re stuck with just your sweat pants.

Take flip flops with you

Wearing flip flops whilst paragliding in Nusa Dua, Bali

Your feet expand in the plane so it will be uncomfortable to sit with your shoes on and if you take them off, you’ll take time putting them on again if you need the loo, so by taking flip flops with you, you can use them for wandering around the plane. I have a recent obsession with Sketchers flip flops – never worn anything more comfortable in my life!! They are sooo worth getting, and they’re cheaper online.

Find some dry toothpaste

Yes those do exist! The one I use is way cleaner than 99% of the toothpastes out there (for those who don’t know, I’m very much into natural products) and the great thing is – it weighs a lot less than regular toothpaste and you don’t need to take it out when you pass through security at the airport!

Take a photocopy of your documents and a few passport photos

Because you never know when you may need those! In India, for example, you need to provide a passport photo and a photocopy of your passport just to get a local SIM card. Somewhere else I went to, can’t remember where now (maybe Nepal?), I needed to give them a passport photo for a visa on arrival at the airport.

It’s also useful if you plan on doing any certified courses abroad, such as getting a diving certification. Last thing you want to do after 3 dives a day is to go to a photo booth with wet hair and no make up…trust me on that one…my Rescue Diver certification photo is so embarrassing that I just pretend I left it at home and let them find me through the PADI system haha!

Take the right food with you and pre-order your special meals

Take good food that will keep you hydrated, satisfied and won’t go mushy or stink up the plane. I have written a separate article on how to travel with raw food here. Raw chocolate is of course a must.

Take a large plastic bag or leave your backpack open

These tips was given to me by someone working at the security in Heathrow. I had 3 small bits of hand luggage: a small backpack, a passport holder and a travel cushion but I was only allowed to take one aboard…apparently all of those things counted as separate pieces of luggage (Londoners are strict!!).

So after watching me huffing and puffing trying to squeeze my cushion into the backpack, one guy finally came up to me and said, “you know, you don’t actually need to close the bag for it to count as one piece of luggage, but for next time, you can also grab a large bin bag and just put everything in there to carry it onboard…” – good idea!

Get a good backpack as hand luggage

I used to always travel with a large suitcase (Samsonite FTW!) and a small suitcase on wheels because I found backpacks to be heavy and uncomfortable. Turns out, I simply didn’t have a good backpack (Northface is my favourite now). If you get one with the proper straps that go around your waist, it makes life so much easier! If you have 2 suitcases, it’s very uncomfortable to carry them up and down stairs as you’ll need to take one in each hand or take one down with both hands and then go back for the other one. With a backpack you can take it all in one go, plus then you can use it for hiking or mini day trips at your destination.

Take an empty bottle

Bottles hanging in Khajuraho, India

We all know that we can’t take bottles of water with us through security, but did you know that you can take EMPTY bottles of water? If you take it out of your bag at security, they will see that it’s empty and allow you through, and that way you can fill it up later with free water at the airport fountains or ask them to fill it up on the plane.

Buffer your movies at home

Do you want to watch an online video but have no internet on the plane? Just buffer anything you want to watch before leaving your house and watch it offline later with no problems!

Take screenshots of your boarding passes, hotel address and documents

Basically just take your phone and take photos of anything that may be important. If you have your hotel address in an email, you may not be able to open it at your destination if there’s no wifi, so just take screenshots of it before you fly. This has saved me many times.

Put your senses to sleep

I.e. bring noise-cancelling headphones these are great but these are the ones I’ve got, they are amazing! You can also get some earplugs and an eye mask. If you don’t have one, just put a scarf over your eyes or pull down your hoodie.

Minimise your battery usage / buy a power bank


An obvious one, but this is something people forget sometimes. Turn off your wifi and bluetooth and close down applications that may be running in the background to save the battery of your devices. Turning down the brightness of the screen and keyboard also helps a lot.

If you don’t yet have a portable battery for your phone, I’d highly recommend it for long-haul flights, and trips in general. This last link is the one I use, it can charge my iPhone about 6 times and shows how much % is left, I’m totally in love with it!

Take your phone and laptop chargers with you

You may want to send your chargers in the big suitcase to lift the weight from your shoulders, but chargers are important to take with you on the plane for several reasons:

– You may experience delays and if your phone runs out of juice you won’t be able to call anyone
– If your baggage gets lost, you’re pretty much screwed
– If your phone runs of of battery during a flight and you have your laptop with you, you can charge it from the laptop via USB

Divide your cash

Most of you will have a hand bag and a larger piece of hand luggage. Make sure to keep some cash in both bags (maybe not too much in the big suitcase, but even a hidden 50€ note could get you a taxi in case your other bag gets stolen), just in case, and if you’re travelling with family, divide the money amongst you. On my first ever trip to Paris, when I was 8, my mum had all of her cash stolen from her bag and since then she has always given me money to put into my pockets whenever we went abroad.

Take some US dollars with you

Spice market in Delhi, India

Have you ever been at an airport and you want to buy something for 5€ but you only have a 20€ note and the guy at the cashier gladly takes your money…but gives you change in his local currency? That’s ok if you could actually use that currency, but if you’re in transit and have no interest in having 15€ worth of rupees in your pocket, then having several 1$ bills with you at all times is great. Some places won’t accept coins, so small bills are useful. Plus in many Asian and South American countries you can use them to pay for things on the streets if you run out of local money.

I also like to pay for visa-on-arrival’s with US dollars too, as it works out to be cheaper. For example, to enter Indonesia you used to have to pay 35€ or 35$, it’s not a massive difference but in my opinion it’s worth having those dollars at hand.

Don’t be afraid to change seats

If the plane isn’t too full, go grab that empty row of seats so you can sleep comfortably throughout the flight! I prefer to do this before the plane takes off.

Take out your headphones and talk to people

You never know who you may meet at the airports, I’ve met some lovely people over the years and have even kept in touch with many of them since. Plus it helps to kill time if you’re waiting for a while at airports.

A friend of mine actually met the love of her life on a plane some 20 years ago and they’re still happily married, and just to think where they would be now if they had their noses stuck in their phones the whole way through.

And finally… be awesome and don’t forget your camera (don’t know where to start? Look here!)

Dont forget to be awesome sign

Flying to Asia? Read my latest blog for weird, useful and random travel tips for girls travelling solo to the lands of the East.

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Bernard Johannes Sleijster

    Oh those are some great tips!! I never thought of at least half of these, and yet they make SO much sense now that I see them!!
    ~ Bernard Sleijster

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