Air travel can be než less than pleasant. This is doubly true if you have to deal with the US TSA. But thoughtful selection and packing in hand luggage can make it more bearable.
The following aids and tools are almost exclusively designed to relieve the stress associated with traveling by air and allow these increased miles to pass in a flash. Whether you prefer to delay your journey, have fun or just feel as comfortable as possible in the restrictive, cool and dry environment of the airliner cabin, you will find something useful in the offers below.
Update, 31.5.22: Content is up-to-date. Replaced with newer Kindle Paperwhite, Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones and Anker battery.
Pretending to be elsewhere: Noise canceling headphones
This is a classic companion for frequent air travelers. Between the noise of the engines and distracting your less polite companions on the road is a necessary way to block it all for your music or movies. You can choose headphones over the ears for strong insulation, great sound and active noise cancellation. Similarly, you can also get a truly blissful escape with a simple pair of real wireless headphones if you want something a little less bulky. We recommend Sony WH-1000XM4s for full size headphones or Jabra Elite 85t for those who prefer earplugs.
Pretending to be somewhere else
The Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones feature a 30-hour battery, state-of-the-art noise cancellation technology and amazing sound quality in a solid and comfortable can set.
To pretend you’re nowhere: EarPlanes earplugs
Ordinary old foam earplugs will work well if the only thing that worries you is silence while you put it off or read. However, if you are bothered by varying air pressure as you rise or fall, consider using a kit that is specifically designed to relieve that pressure. Airline crews love EarPlanes – latex-free plugs that open your ear canals and reduce their susceptibility to clogging, while providing you with some noise protection. They come in sizes for adults and children, with disposable and washable options.
Pretending you’re nowhere
Do you just want peace and quiet? These noise-reducing earplugs can offer you just that!
For catching some Zs: Alaska Bear sleeping mask
Sleeping masks are great for a peaceful night’s sleep, but they’re even better for environments where the lights are on all the time – such as the middle seat next to someone who wants to keep the window open at all times. Because they are light and compact, the mask is a great travel companion, even for non-flying parts of your journey. We recommend the natural silk sleeping mask Alaska Bear, especially because it comes in so many great colors and designs.
For catching some Zs
To keep toast toes: HotHands foot warmers
The pressurized cabin of a transport aircraft can be cold, especially if you are naturally prone to cold limbs. An elegant solution is a heated set of shoe insoles, which will give you enough extra heat to withstand aggressive temperature controls in the cabin. Rechargeable versions are available, but they seem to be less reliable and thicker than they could be.
We recommend a disposable set of chemically activated HotHands: open the package before boarding to start warming up and drop them when you land. Alternatively, if you prefer to take off your shoes when the wheels are raised, MMLove battery thermal socks offer the same functionality with three levels of heating.
To keep toast toes
HotHands foot warmers
Avoid annoying drafts at the airport or on the plane and stay comfortable with these warming pads.
To maintain hydration: Collapsible bottle for filtered water
The cabin of the plane is also surprisingly dry and you will find that you will be thirsty quickly … but carrying bottled water through the security service is no longer the solution and flight attendants may be too busy to keep up with your thirst. Some pilots like to pack their own bottles and refill at the fountain before boarding. But that means less space in the bag and you may not believe the tap water at the airport. The solution is Katadyn Befree Hydrapak Flask.
It holds a whole liter, which should be enough for a medium flight, and contains a micron water filter in the cap. Best of all, its flexible plastic folds for easy storage in a package, but when full, it stands up on its own. This bottle is also a great companion for hiking or camping at the destination.
To maintain hydration
For fun: Tablet or electronic reader
You will almost certainly have your mobile phone with you on the flight, and that is enough if you only plan to listen to music. But the small screen is less than ideal for longer reading or video, tasks for which electronic readers and tablets are ideal, because the economical seats do not even have enough space to comfortably control the laptop.
The Kindle and iPad series are de facto standard recommendations: we like the Kindle Paperwhite (ad-supported, or opt for the ad-free version for a little more) and the standard 10.2-inch iPad for their combination of usefulness and value. The Kindle Paperwhite offers a large, glare-free display, waterproof design and access to millions of book titles.
Do you want to read a book, read a magazine or listen to an audiobook? The new Kindle Paperwhite can do it all!
For comfortable entertainment: Portable stand
If you like a movie or two during the flight, you’ll want an easy way to support your phone or tablet in the air. Because most manufacturers don’t like to include stands in their own designs, you’ll need to pack your own. Many tablet and phone cases include a small stand as part of their protective design, but we prefer a dedicated variant for its stability and flexibility. This adjustable aluminum model has served me well for several transatlantic years and is cheap enough not to pity you too much if you accidentally leave it in a hotel room.
For comfortable entertainment
Tilt your smartphone, tablet or book to a more comfortable angle (and use your handsfree) with its stand.
To keep devices charged: Anker Battery Bank
Of course, your phone or tablet will need to be turned on and you will need a way to recharge them once they die. You have probably packed a charger, but not all aircraft have electric access for every seat (especially for domestic flying buses). The solution is a portable battery bank that can fully charge your gadgets several times.
There are plenty of portable battery banks to choose from, but we are big fans of those from Anker, such as the PowerCore Slim 10K. It has a capacity of 10,000 mAh, connects via USB-C and supports charging up to 12W. Makes it easy to charge your smartphone, tablet, headphones, smart watch, or other small Android or iOS devices. The bank has a circular LED dial on the power button, which shows how much energy is left in it.
If you want a portable battery bank with a little more juice, take the option of Anker’s PowerCore 26,800 mAh. It has three USB-A ports for fast charging and also two micro-USB ports for your older devices.
To keep your gadgets charged
To protect your belongings: Anti-theft backpack
Airports and other travel centers are notorious places for pickpockets because the bags are all full of valuables. You can keep yours safe by choosing a bag that is specially designed to keep thieves out. We have gathered the best of the group, but our selection for regular users is PacSafe Anti-Theft 25L. It offers reinforced material and straps, security clips and even an RFID-resistant pocket for digital thieves. A tablet / laptop case is also included.
To keep your things close: Hanging air bag
But what about access to all these gadgets when you’re on the air? To avoid the annoying diving under the seat in front of you or squeezing your passengers to gain access to the storage space above your head, we recommend the Genius Pack High Altitude Flight Bag.
This smaller package includes straps designed to wrap around the dashboard seat in front of you, giving you quick and unrestricted access to all your electronics and accessories. It is small enough to be used as a second hand luggage without compromising on size restrictions, and the shoulder strap allows it to double as a tablet or laptop bag when it reaches its destination.
To keep your things close