By | February 3, 2011

A longhaul flight is when you travel across continents, which at least in the normal case means that you are gone for 4-5 days or more. While there are still people to be found who will consider packing for such a trip in a carry-on, most people realize that the implications of that (such as wearing the same clothes several days in a row) are not that attractive. So think suitcase. Or suitcases. This is when you really take advantage of airline baggage allowances and significant commodity price differences between origin and destination. Buy stuff abroad? This is the time. Traveling from Sweden to the USA, your baggage going THERE should contain nothing but your passport, toothbrush, toothpaste and a credit card while going HOME is a completely different story.

There are longhauls and then there are longhauls. There is a difference between a morning flight from EU to the US and an evening flight from Hong Kong to EU. Why? Because in the first scenario you will more or less start your day fresh on an airplane full with people you don’t know, hopefully with access to a power outlet and wifi but stripped of possibilities to use your phone or be disturbed by your colleagues. I.e. chances are very high that this can make your top ten list of most productive days at work. Ever. And fresh coffee is served just a button press away… But an evening flight out of Chek Lap Kok bound for EU is more about trying to catch as many hours of sleep as possible. Especially if your employer insists on hauling you around in coach. So plan your journey accordingly.

Direction matters! Flying longer distances west is more merciful on your beauty sleep than flying east. You will find that an eastbound longhaul will more often give you jetlag as you skip hours by setting your clock forward while your body remains on CET, and that the effect of a westbound longhaul is more like staying up later than usual on a Saturday night. If you expect to function as a civilized human being you obviously need to adapt to your new time zone immediately. In order to achieve that you may need to consume excessive amounts of coffee and stay up just a little bit longer, even if your body cries Sleep! Sleep! Sleep! Plan this ahead to avoid surprises.

So what this boils down to in terms of traveling is that how and what you pack depends on what kind of longhaul you are in for. Westbound daytrip? Expect to stay awake most of the flight time and plan/pack to get some work done and to manage time difference as part of the post-flight procedures. Eastbound nighttrip? This is when toothbrush and toothpaste appear far more relevant than your laptop.

Stuff you check in:

  • iPhone/iPad charger
  • Toiletry bag (consider all the liquids you can bring!)
  • Pocket knife
  • Clothes for the full length of the stay
  • Dress shoes (as you of course travel in sneakers)
  • Gym clothes

Stuff you don’t check in:

  • Your passport and tickets
  • Your electronics essentials: iPhone, iPad, laptop
  • Your Ray Bans
  • Your noise cancelling headphones
  • Your toiletry travel kit (nighttrips only)
  • A bottle of water (buy after security)

The toiletry travel kit you bring onboard contains toothpaste, deodorant, a sample size EdT and contact lens liquid (all in an airline approved one liter sealable transparent plastic bag and all in travel sizes) along with toothbrush, contact lens case, earplugs, shades, an inflatable neck cushin and your prescription eyeglasses.