Unglam In-Flight Survival Kit Essentials

My very whittled down, minimalist list of what I bring on my long haul economy flights. Warning: most of these are not glamourous.

I remember the first few times I travelled long-haul, I had a huge toiletry bag filled with my entire skincare routine in these tiny little bottles, toothbrush and toothpaste, eye mask, socks – I lied, they were full-on compression stockings, I was that extra – sheet masks, the works. I chuckle a little looking at my carry-on kit these days.

Over the years I’ve discovered what’s most essential while on a flight. These are some of my travel must-haves.

Makeup Wipes 

I’m not an advocate of using facial wipes at all. But on a long-haul they’re the easiest and most compact way of cleaning the face at the beginning and end of a flight. I use the ones by Biore. I cringe looking at the ingredients list but compared to most other makeup remover wipes in the drugstore, these tend to be drenched with the solution. At least I’m not tugging at my skin more than necessary.

Wet Wipes

I use these to wipe the vicinity of my plane seat, my hands, even my armpits after a long flight. In a pinch I’ve even used these to wipe my teeth. I told you these are not going to be glamorous. I tend to go for gentle, non-scented versions from the drugstore.

Lip Balm

Dehydrated lips are never fun. It’s even more not fun when you ask for orange juice during breakfast service and it burns your chapped lips.

L’Occitane makes great tubes of lip balm, and I’ve recently discovered this fabulous lip balm by a brand called LVLY on my recent European trip.

Face Moisturisers/Sleeping Masks

I feel some kind of mad when beauty gurus recommend putting on a face sheet masks on a plane. NO. Or at least not in economy. There is just not enough room to comfortably put on a mask. Also, you can’t just leave the sheet masks on – that stuff will dry up to a crisp. TO A CRISP.

Use the cream-style sleeping masks instead. They act as an all-in-one face moisturizer too. I love the Klairs Vit E Mask, but the Asahi Pack Gel wear better in-flight and reapplies effortlessly if need be. The stuff is potently moisturizing and I find that I rarely need to reapply. These also work well as body lotions too. I use one moisturiser for everything to cut down on bulk.

Eye Masks

I’ve been woken up countless times on long-haul flights because of random lights shining on my face. Perhaps my neighbour puts on his reading light, perhaps someone is stumbling around with his phone light, perhaps you’re seated near the toilet and the doors never stop opening and closing. An eye mask would help. I don’t mean those, though. I meant these gloriously pampering eye masks:

I prefer these ingenious Japanese eye masks – MegRhythm Steam Eye Mask Lavender. The name sounds like it belongs to Transformer’s girlfriend, but these are my soul saviours when on flight. I don’t need these, but hell do I want these. Simple, but oh-so-luxurious feeling. They warm up once unfolded while emitting the most soothing lavender scent. They come in different scents but my go-to is always the Lavender. They’re affordable and ultra portable too.


A gross secret: I don’t brush my teeth after a long haul. I used to, and it’s never a smooth process. First of all, not all airport bathrooms are not designed, for teeth-brushers. I’m looking at you, automatic water taps that never work at the critical mouth-full-of-toothpaste situations. Second of all… do you really want to be brushing your teeth inside the plane toilets?

To get me through those few hours of grassy mouth and stanky breath before I arrive at my hotel, I use mouthwash. It freshens my breath just enough. Also read top note on wet wipes.

Hair Tie

I put up my hair two ways. First of which is a loose bun on the top of my head. My head can rest easy on the seat, and I don’t get flat hair syndrome. The other way is to have my hair in two loose French braids. This one takes a bit more effort, but I sleep comfortably and wake up to pretty waves in my hair.

Spectacle Case

I only wear my glasses for long-haul, and I need my case to keep them in for when I sleep. I’ve seen people slot their spectacles in the pocket seat instead without the case and it gave me anxiety.


I apply sunscreen right before we land. I created my custom cushion sunscreen so I can easily pat on the product with the cushion pad. It also has a mirror for visual checks, or for when I want to apply some tint. Which brings us to our next point:

No Makeup! Except for Tint.

Finally: no makeup! I find having any sort of makeup before or after a flight just… icky. But I also find it even more icky when I leave the plane and my face is pale from lack of sleep. I always pack a cute little lip tint that I can pop on my lips and the cheeks for a hint of colour to freshen the face and give complexion a bit of a glowy lift. I can easily blend them on my cheeks with the cushion puff or my fingers.

My current favourite are the Peripera Ink Velvet Tints. I have a bunch of these. In 2019, their Fall Winter 2017 collection are still my warm autumnal dreams come true.

Water Bottle

I always bring along an empty bottle on-board and then proceed to annoy the flight attendants to fill the bottle to the brim. I highly recommend silicon bottles which can fold up once you don’t need them anymore. I got mine from Tokyu Hands while I was in Japan, but there’s an insane selection on Amazon for your pickings. These and these are affordable and seem to garner lots of good reviews.

I also like the flat rectangular types which slide into the magazine pocket without taking up too much space. I discovered these by accident when I got them as a media gift at one of my press events, but this and this are exactly what I have.

Neck Pillow

Are neck pillows even necessary? I don’t have the right answer to that. Unless I’m on the plane itself, I find them the most ugly and bulky things to be toting around. On flights these days, I would notice perhaps only half the passengers with these toilet-bowl shaped foamy things. Maybe even less. I also don’t hear the other 50% complaining of debilitating neck pain. Furthermore, most planes provide little pillows that you can somehow contort to fit your neck.

I think all these, yet I still can’t do long hauls without one on hand. I can’t, and I haven’t dared to. When I doze off on the plane, my head tends to nod off on either side at a precarious almost 90-degree angle. It’s a scary image to picture.

I like the Fitting Neck Cushion by Muji – they’re ultra comfortable and you can unbuckle it to lay out in a straight line, unlike the usual curved nature of neck pillows. This makes it super easy to pack into your luggage from when you’re travelling. Also the cover zips out so you can throw it in the washer once you’re back home. Plane germs.

Store it all in a resealable bag

I store them all in a resealable plastic bag. Not just for security check reasons (the clear bag rule is funnily enough not universal) but also because their flatter profile make them a lot easier to slot in and out of the bag and the plane pocket. I reuse mine to death to be more environmentally conscious (yet I only use disposable wipes, I know. If you can show me a better, equally compact alternative, please do). Except for the neck cushion and water bottle, everything in this list fits in the resealable bag.



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