A Flight Attendant’s International Travel Necessities


As a flight attendant, I know a thing or two about packing and what you need to have with you in flight. Oftentimes things are overlooked or you don’t think to pack them because you don’t realize what it’s really like on board a long-haul flight.

People often ask me what my tricks are for international travel. How do I manage to keep my skin looking fresh and flawless when flying so much? What do I bring in my carry-on luggage? What couldn’t I live without on an international flight?

Air travel can be damaging to your health and skin because it’s so dry in planes. And not to mention, you’re stuck in there with hundreds of other people’s germs and illnesses…

Not everyone loves to fly, but it’s often necessary in today’s world to get from point A to point B for work and play. Here are my tips to remain refreshed, relaxed, healthy, and cozy on your next long-haul flight.


First, let’s talk about some items you’ll need to bring along to keep you occupied. No, not all flights have TV’s these days—especially because so many people own iPad’s and bring along their own films to watch. I’ll admit—I don’t even own and iPad and I don’t think I have a clue how to get a movie on one! But most travelers prefer to watch their own choice of movie on their own device. This is particularly in the domestic market as flights are shorter and people don’t need hours and hours of entertainment. Not all flights have outlets to charge your devices either (the horror!). I know, it sucks. Investing in a portable charger for your iPhone or iPad will be a lifesaver for you and a staple in your travel bag the next time you hop on a plane.

What I’m trying to say here is: don’t assume the airline you’re flying is required to provide you with entertainment. It’s the harsh truth. I can’t tell you how many flights I’ve worked that are completely booked and the guy in 36C’s TV goes kaput. I then have to give him the unfortunate news that there’s no other seat for him to move to and there is nothing we can do about the TV. People don’t like hearing that, and it’s generally because they don’t enter a flight prepared. Then the absolute worst happens—the wifi goes down. It’s crazy how everyone just assumes everything will work perfectly on a metal tube carrying 250 people that’s barreling through the sky at 600 miles per hour. I wish I could tell people that they’re experiencing the magic of flight and completely going against gravity and that they should just be thankful we’re getting them to their destination safely sometimes! But no, I have to listen to the sob story because how will they get through a transatlantic flight without anyyyyythinggg to do?! Well, maybe you need to come more prepared next time.

You should always have your own form of entertainment on a flight, whether it be a book, an iPad, a Kindle (I love my Kindle Fire!), a laptop with some work to do, a couple magazines (did you know they sell them at the airport?!), crossword puzzles, a newspaper, Sudoku, knitting, a coloring book, or a deck of cards. Surely you could fit one of those items in your already oversized, overweight carry-on luggage that you made me lift into an overhead bin.


 I find it hard to feel comfortable on a plane unless I’m hydrated. My number one rule for getting on a plane, no matter how long the flight is, is to bring a large water bottle on board with you. I know airport prices are astronomical and that flight attendants come through with drinks often, but you need to drink a lot of water and regularly. Don’t put your hydration in someone else’s hands. If you can, bring along a reusable water bottle or tumbler, fill it at the airport post-security, and ask the flight attendants for a refill in the galley.

I like to say that my fresh and hydrated skin is a result of hydration from the inside out. While working, I have to wear loads of makeup and keep presentable; therefore I can’t be walking around in a sheet mask. I drink around 2-3 liters of water for every six hours in the air. I also apply moisturizer (I love this Origins one) to my neck and lotion/hand cream/body butter (my absolute go-to body butter by Soap & Glory) to my hands and wrists at least hourly. My hands and cuticles take some major damage working in galleys, opening soda cans, etc., so hydration on the skin is very important.

If you’re a passenger on a long-haul flight, the first thing you need to do is take off your makeup. You’ll likely take a nap on this flight, and sleeping in makeup is one of the biggest sins in my book. Keep makeup wipes in your hand luggage as well as a facial moisturizer or light mask. My current favorites for the face that were made for air travel are L’Oreal Hydra Genius Aloe Water and Glam Glow Thirstymud Hydrating Treatment—two perfect on-board essentials that are under 100ml so you can toss them in your liquids bag.


 Sometimes flying can be uncomfortable. You’re stuck in between two “people of size,” you hate turbulence, or you’re afraid to ask for something because you want to be polite. I get it! Bringing things on board that will help you rid your other issues is key.

Anxious flyer? Try using essential oils to calm your nerves. I’ve seen and smelled many passengers alleviate some of their fear of turbulence or claustrophobia by calming themselves through the power of essential oils.

Sometimes planes can be really cold, too. I swear by my hot water bottle to get me through those long, late night flights. Bring yours to a galley and a flight attendant will gladly fill it up with hot water to make you feel a bit cozier. I also suggest wearing layers that will keep you warm inflight. Even if you’re off to Ibiza, I wouldn’t suggest traveling in shorts or a dress. A final note to keep yourself warm is to bring along a pair of socks to keep your feet from freezing. If you’re like me, you can’t fall asleep at night if your feet or hands are super cold. Much like when you’re in bed, when you’re on a plane, cold hands and feet keep you from getting comfortable, relaxed, and able to shut your eyes for a bit.

And if you’re feeling worried or nervous, or have a problem with your seat, seat mates, you’re feeling ill, you need to chat to keep occupied, or anything else, feel free to visit the flight attendants and let them know your situation. We have to stay awake the whole flight, and it’s nice to get to know our passengers. We’ve dealt with many situations in the air and can likely handle yours. People don’t realize how often we experience certain situations and we will be happy to accommodate you.

A few more things I can’t be comfortable on a plane without…

Eye mask: try sleeping on a trans-atlantic when the sun starts rising and you still have three more hours of flight left!

Headphones: another thing you can’t expect an airline to provide for you. In order to watch movies and drown out noise, you need headphones. Bose noise-cancelling headphones are extremely popular, and I love my Skull Candy in-ear buds for when I’m lying down.

Toothbrush and toothpaste: I can’t sleep without brushing my teeth. Keep these on hand and brush after dinner and before arrival so you don’t knock the boarder patrol guys out in the customs hall.

Slippers: Wear a pair of shoes that are hard to get on and off on the plane? Throw a pair of flat, hotel slippers in your luggage so you can have something on your feet when you go to use the lavatory. Don’t you dare enter that lavatory barefoot or in socks you sicko!

Snacks: Not all airplane food is good or works with your diet. It’s tremendously high in sodium and preservatives—even the fruit and veggies. I usually stick to grabbing a yummy dinner at the airport so I can get straight to bed on my flights. Easy snacks for the plane are bananas, nuts, chips, protein or granola bars (Fig Bars are my absolute favorite snack at the mo), apples, or oatmeal to go.

Emergen-C or Airborne: I always keep a vitamin and antioxidant-boosting supplement in my bag. Whenever I feel a cold coming on, I take it every few hours to keep my immune system in check.

Sudafed: Sudafed is a flight attendant’s Holy Grail medication. If you have even the slightest cold when getting on a flight, take it. Sudafed helps with decongesting your sinuses and prevents ear block—every flight attendant’s worst nightmare. You can’t fly with blocked ears because it has the potential to severely damage your eardrums. I always keep it in my purse.

Pen: Most international flights require you to fill out a customs form prior to landing to give to the customs and boarder patrol officers. As crazy as it seems, flight attendant’s don’t carry an additional 200 pens in their luggage. I’m nice and loan mine out to passengers in need, but many do not as they most likely won’t get returned as we’re very busy during landing.

That’s it, y’all! After reading this you’ll be so prepared to fly they’d think you’re a flight attendant. Thanks for reading and stick around for the next post.

Keep up to date with my daily comings and goings (I’m working hard and playing harder in Europe more than ever lately!) over on Snapchat and Instagram @betsyabernethy.


Bon Voyage!

Xx Jet Set Bets