Finding happiness in retirement

Long Flight Essentials

Long Flight Essentials

When thinking about traveling outside of the country, I dread the seemingly endless flight. About 10 years ago, I went to Europe for the first time, visiting Ireland with my then 13 year-old daughter. As we know, flights to Europe leave in the late afternoon or evening. I stupidly assumed that plugging in to an audio book at the start of the flight would lull me to sleep. I did momentarily doze off a few times, but never really slept so when we arrived in Dublin, I was exhausted. Nothing is more memorable on that trip than my desire for a bed that first day.

I planned a trip to Spain with a friend just following my retirement in July. I was much more thoughtful about that trip, with sleeping in-flight a big priority. Besides getting to sleep, you need to stay asleep. I was so successful at that, I missed both meals that were served. That’s okay- I packed snacks that held me over. There’s such a great deal of noise that can wake you up on a plane. Earplugs are a must. I found some on Amazon and used them at home before the trip to check out their effectiveness. They create dead silence, while not being annoying in the ear. It’s probably also a good idea to try a night or two with the eye mask before the flight. This neck pillow is perfect, especially if you have limited room. It is designed to keep your head slightly over to one side, while holding your jaw closed. You won’t be  caught asleep with your mouth hanging open!

Sleep must haves:

  • Ear plugs
  • Eye mask
  • Neck pillows

A picture of a blindfold and blanket

I’ve pictured all of my favorites here, with the exception of a sleep aid. That’s an individual decision. Some people can drift off with over the counter remedies. It pays to try a few options before overnight plane travel.

Freshen up:

  • Face and body wipes
  • Hand lotion
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Lip gloss
  • Makeup
  • Lysol wipes for cleaning your tray area

I keep these all in one bag so that I can just grab the bag and take it into the washroom.

Food & drink:

  • Water bottle
  • Apple or banana
  • Nutrition bar
  • Almonds

This S’ip by S’well water bottle is invaluable on any trip. You can fill it with water after you pass security. The insulation is incredible. Water stays cold for 24 hours. I appreciated that in the heat of southern Spain last summer! Your water won’t leak with the screw-on lid.

A photo of a water bottle


  • 2 pairs of underwear
  • 2 tops, 1 skirt, 1 pair of pants

I carry on enough clothing to insure that I won’t have to wear the clothes I traveled in just in case luggage is lost for a couple of days. I wear a light sweater on the plane. Wearing a lightweight scarf also provides you a travel blanket of sorts.


  • Passport
  • Wallet with credit cards, ID, cash
  • Camera
  • Phone, iPad, or kindle
  • Jewelry
  • Travel itinerary
  • Boarding pass

I keep valuables in my purse that I pull out of my carry-on bag before I stow it in an overhead bin. Snuggling your purse in your seat allows you to sleep more soundly. I do not bring a camera beyond my iPhone and I wear the same jewelry throughout the trip, so I do my best to wear the jewelry on the flight.


  • One carry-on bag large enough to contain the above items, a purse, as well as a lightweight foldable bag that can be used on your daily excursions
  • One checked suitcase

I updated my checked luggage when I went to Spain to a hard-sided, bright yellow suitcase that spins and rolls well. I was glad I had as it is lightweight and easy to move around. There are many choices on this on-line site as well as in stores.

I hope this gives you a starting place for considering your travel needs!

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