How to Pack for an International Flight

You are going on an international trip for the first time, and the main flight is going to be at least 10 hours long. How do you pack for an international flight?


You are going on your first international trip, and the main flight is going to be at least 10 hours. With the different connections along the way, the whole trip will end up being 30 hours. That doesn’t include possible delays. What do you pack for an international flight? Do you prepare for the worst? Do you pack as light as possible?

Here’s your guide on how to pack for the flight when you travel internationally. If you missed it, make sure you also go back and read our article on rethinking your travel wardrobe.

The first question to ask yourself is about luggage.

Willing to lug around a bag on wheels and a backpack for a whole day or two? Having both can be a good idea. You can put heavier or breakable items in the carry-on. If for some reason the airline needs to check your carry-on, you can put some of those breakable items in your backpack too.

What specific items should you have with you when you pack for an international flight?

Many would say the most important is to have a change of clothes. Bringing two pairs of underwear might not be out of the question. Travel could be hot and sweaty. You never know when your flight will be delayed or when you will be stuck someplace for half a day. Or even a couple of days. You may think it won't happen to you but plenty of stories out there prove that it can.

Along with that, having layers is important as you navigate the different climates along the way. Airplanes and airports can get super cold. Most international flights give you a blanket and pillow but do not count on it with connecting flights. On the other hand, an airplane could be stuck on the runway and the A/C on the ground does not keep up with the blistering weather outside.

Some other important items to keep with you are your toiletries. You start to feel pretty gross by the end of a long trip. Being able to brush your teeth, put on extra deodorant, and wash your face can make you feel a lot better.

Consider these other essentials when you pack for an international flight.

A few things that feel more and more essential the longer you travel:

  • Water bottle: This allows you to fill up and dump out constantly as you go in and out of airport security. And it beats relying on a plastic cup from McDonald’s.
  • Comfortable pants: What you wear can get pretty beat up in all your travels. You might even bring a pair that can be turned into shorts when needed.
  • Tennis shoes and sandals: You can do a lot of walking at major airports. You may have to run to make a connection. Having shoes for that is really important. At the same time, wearing the same shoes and socks the whole time can start to hurt your feet. Having sandals to slip on at different times is really nice.
  • Digital reader (Kindle, iPad, etc): This way you don’t need to lug around two or three massive books that you have been dying to read.
  • Portable charger: Not all airplanes or airports have abundant charging ports. If you want to be using your phone a lot for entertainment, this is a must.
  • Snacks: Unlike domestic flights, international ones give you meals. You should also be able to find restaurants in most airports. Having some extra fruit and granola bars is nice when you want to save a little money or haven’t been fed on a long flight for hours.

As you travel more and more, you will start to figure out what items you feel like are “essential” for your own journey. This is a good start to prepare for your next adventure!

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