March 21st, 2012

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Yesterday I boarded the world’s longest commercial flight: Singapore Airlines Flight 21 from Newark to Singapore, which lasts an astonishing 18 hours and 40 minutes, practically an entire day up in the sky! In fact, due to the flight timing and time zone changes, I spend the entire Tuesday, March 20th in the air!

The flight took off from EWR at 11:00pm Monday and landed in SIN at 5:40am local time Wednesday, so I anticipated my internal clock was going to be all kinds of confused by the time we cruised into Singapore. Like many frequent long-haul travelers, however, I had a handy arsenal of accessories that help me cope with lengthy flights, jet lag and to stay healthy, hydrated and happy. The flight ended up being a breeze and I got almost 12 hours in total sleep, so I’ve been on the go since touching down in Singapore.

Check out this video I made at Newark Airport as I take you inside my carry-on bag of tricks, and find the full list of my must-haves below.

What are your key travel products? Tell me your travel “must haves” and I’ll pick a lucky winner who will receive a set of Bose QC15 headphones. Simply comment on this post by 8pm EST on Thursday March 22, 2012.

My Top 10 Must Have Travel Accessories For Long-Haul Flights

1. Bose QC15 Acoustic Noise-Cancelling Headphones: These drown out both that plane drone and the voices of your neighbors, one of whom always seems to be hacking up a lung on the flight. I also always carry along some extra AAA batteries, because there’s nothing worse than when your batteries die mid-flight and you can’t replace them.

2. Eye Mask: Though you can usually depend on an amenities kit in business class, I always carry my thick British Airways First Class eye mask with me (even when I fly economy) because it’s super comfortable, blocks out all the light, and helps me sleep better.

3. Sleep Aid: Speaking of sleeping on the flight, I always have a sleep aid with me so I can be sure to arrive in my destination as well rested as possible. My sleep aid of choice is Lunesta, though I know a lot of readers prefer natural supplements like Melatonin. I’d stay away from Tylenol PM because of the potential acetaminophen has to damage your liver (in case you indulge in the in-flight wine, which was decent on Singapore Airlines).

4. Loafers: In addition to helping me get through security faster since it’s easy to slip them off and on again, I bring loafers with me on the plane so that I can easily slip them on whenever I need to use the lavatory because those floors are dirty, no matter how many times the flight crew wipes them down!

5. iPad: Even with all the in-flight entertainment options on premium international airlines these days, I’m a control freak when it comes to how I spend my time on the plane and I like to make sure I’ll have everything I need to keep me distracted, from movies and TV shows to music and e-books.

6. Big bottle of water: Though I’m sure to get great service in Singapore Airlines business class, sometimes you get stuck on the runway for a while before takeoff, or there’s an extended period of turbulence, and you can’t get a beverage for a while. However, staying hydrated is probably the single most important thing you can do on a plane, so I always have a big bottle of water with me, just in case.

7. Pajamas: Especially on long flights like this one, the thought of spending over 24 hours in the same clothes (including leaving home, getting to the airport, getting to the destination and your hotel) is gross, so I always make sure I at least have a pair of pajamas with me to change into while I’m sleeping. My pair of choice? The BA first class ones which are comfortable and light.

8. Hand sanitizer: With so many people coming through a plane on flight after flight, I think every surface on a plane is practically a bio-hazard (see: hacking seatmate mentioned above, and don’t even get me started on the tray tables and safety pamphlets!). That’s why I always have a bottle of hand sanitizer with me for a quick disinfecting rub, especially before eating.

9. Moisturizer: As I mentioned, the most important thing to remember on a long flight is to stay hydrated so your body doesn’t get dried out. To keep my skin from drying out, though, I always pack some moisturizer so I can stay feeling fresh throughout the flight and for when I land.

10. Toothbrush: Again, this is something you’ll normally get it when flying in business/first, but I hate the dinky toothbrushes they tend to hand out with these, and if you’re flying coach, you might not get anything at all, so it pays to have a toothbrush with you and keep your dental hygiene up on the plane. It’ll make you feel better before taking a snooze, and freshen you up before landing.

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