Packing Hacks is a 31-part series devoted to helping you become an expert packer! Each installment offers advice on how to get organized, pack smarter, save on bag fees, and eliminate packing stress. New to Packing Hacks? Start at the beginning.
Yesterday we covered traveling with adapters and chargers, and today we’re going to focus on one of the less-fun aspects of travel: the in-flight experience. But we’re here to help. Choosing the right products to use during your flight can take the experience from coach to first-class.
√ What types of products are right for you
√ Our favorite in-flight gadgets and accessories
√ Where to buy them
We’ve broken the product types down into four main categories: comfort (to help you sleep or relax on the plane), entertainment (to keep you occupied and distracted), accessories (so you can use all your products easily), and health (so you stay well on germy planes).
- Full-Coverage Option: You need a travel blanket. Smaller and lighter than the blanket you put on your bed or couch, this type isn’t too hard to pack in your carry-on. The Travelon Healthy Blanket is antimicrobial, in case you can’t wash it until you get home. Or, go for a small but cozy blanket like the World’s Best Cozy Soft Microfleece.
- Double-Duty Option: If you want a multitasking blanket, the Travelrest 4-in-1 Blanket can be worn like a poncho (so it won’t slip off), and it also can be used as a pillow or for lumbar support. The Secret Sweater can be worn as a shawl or used as a blanket. The Rollawrap can be worn as a scarf, blanket, or shawl, and it comes with a pouch that doubles as a wristlet.
- For Side Sleepers: You need the Travelrest Inflatable Pillow, which allows you to lean up against a soft surface.
- For Back Sleepers: The J Pillow keeps your head from falling forward.
- For Stomach Sleepers: Give the Skyrest Travel Pillow a try, as it lets you rest your head on your tray or lap.
- If you like to drift off to music or movies, the AcousticSheep SleepPhones are much softer and more comfortable than traditional headphones.
- If you want to drown everyone out, the Bose QuietComfort Headphones are some of the highest-rated noise-canceling headphones out there. Travel earplugs are also great for drowning out all noise.
- Reading: Books and magazines are essential entertainment for long flights, but they can take up way too much of your weight allowance. Download your favorites to a Kindle instead.
- Games: Hardcore gamers can take their PlayStations on the road with the PlayStation Vita and save the battery life on their phone for other things.
- Movies: The Kindle Fire lets you download movies and watch them later, and it has great battery life.
- Working/Writing: Combine an iPad Mini with a small keyboard case so that you can type away with ease.
- Children: Keep your kids entertained (and quiet) with a LeapFrog Learning Tablet, which provides access to tons of educational games and videos. Children also love the Nook eReader, especially when you load it with age-appropriate books and comics.
- The Nite Ize QuikStand Mount lets you watch or read on your smartphone or tablet, and it folds down to the size of a credit card.
- The Skyview allows you to mount your device on the seat in front of you, turning your tablet or phone into a seatback screen.
- The Tech TravelTote hooks on to your seatback pocket, letting you keep everything organized without having to use the germy airplane seatback pocket.
- The Kids Car Organizer Tote is designed for cars but is perfect for in-flight use, as it has an insulated section to keep drinks and snacks cool as well as compartments to keep toys and games easily accessible.
- Travel-sized hand sanitizer is essential—use it before eating and after using the gross airplane bathroom. As soon as you sit down, wipe down your tray table, armrests, and any other part of the seat you’re going to touch. (When do you think your seat-belt buckle was last cleaned?)
- Travel packs of sanitizing wipes are perfect for quick cleaning jobs.
- Get everything you need to stay clean in one pack with this to-go kit, which contains travel-sized sanitizing wipes, hand sanitizer, and Lysol disinfecting spray.
We hand-pick everything we recommend and select items through testing and reviews. Some products are sent to us free of charge with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions and do not accept compensation to review products. All items are in stock and prices are accurate at the time of publication. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.