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A Refresher On Overnight Flight Essentials For Women in 2023

Updated: May 5

Note: Always Pack Tissues represents many tried and tested travel sites as what is called an 'affiliate' partner. That means if you click on my ads I may get a commission from a resulting sale.

Getting Back Into The Habit of Overseas Travel

The age of the nomadic woman is back with a fury after 2020 left the world and its travel industry crippled. Now, more than ever, women are taking to the skies (and the travel blogs!) to get the taste of travel once more. Flying hasn't changed much, save for the weird transition period where we all had to wear masks and would get kicked off the plane if we didn't. But, it's been awhile, and it's good to get a refresher on how to prepare for an overnight flight.

So travel awaits, but what should I pack in my personal bag for an overseas or overnight flight? What are the essentials? Heck, what bag do I start with?

It's been so long since many have traveled, that this refresher is long needed. So whether you are on a long haul red eye flight coast to coast or perhaps you are flying to spend a few days across the pond, there is always an opportunity to consider you will need to get some good shut eye.

Where there's sleeping on a plane, there's a laundry list of things you may want to keep you comfortable. From cosmetics to accessories, entertainment and more, here's a breakdown of the absolute necessary overnight flight essentials for the woman traveler in 2023.

Personal Bag Size Limits

When packing for an overseas trip, nowadays you may find a huge variety in what is ok and what is not ok to bring without paying a fee for bags. Smarter Travel has laid out a lot of the details on personal bag size limits at this link, which can be a good visual refresher for what should already be included in your airline's confirmation email.

The Difference Between a Carry On and a Personal Bag

Understanding what you can bring and the limits of those items is essential. Recall that by distinction a carry on fits in the overhead bin and the personal bag is by your feet under the seat in front of you. Carry on's are typically no bigger than 22 inches tall, and most typically are roll-on style bags.

A personal bag has to fit under the seat, so it is really whatever your 'extra bag in hand' may be. This could include:

  • A purse

  • A backpack

  • A briefcase or laptop messenger bag

  • An underseat rolling bag

  • A small duffle or weekender bag

  • A reusable shopping bag

  • A bag of souvenirs

  • Etc

It's pretty common to see people trying to bring two or more of these items on board and passing them as one 'personal bag' because they all fit under the seat. Keep in mind that most airlines will not allow this and will stop you. Your best bet is to consolidate into your largest bag that can fit under the seat.

If you have a duty free purchase, this is commonly excluded from the bag allowance policy and can be placed up top or below the seat.

Why Is a Personal Bag So Essential For An Overnight Flight?

I want to bang my head with this question. Some people board a flight with nothing more in their hand then maybe a book and a cell phone. Honestly, I am one for sitting and staring at my feet for long hours, pondering my fellow passengers' lifestyles and wardrobe choices, or perhaps watching a movie over their shoulders, but guys - you have got to pack at least a few things to be comfortable for your 8+ hour flights.

Another thing that irks me is the person who did pack a personal bag but didn't put it under their seat. All flight they are up and down out of the overhead bin, all the while I am ducking for cover from falling objects or getting someone's crotch shoved uncomfortably close to my face in the aisle seat.

That said, don't be one of those people. Pack a bag with all the right items and keep it under your seat.

What Type of Personal Bag is Best?

I have tried every bag on that list above, and hands down the one I love best is this tote bag with a zipper.

Amazon sells this amazing bag that I got from the Samsonite store, and they sell it for a good $20 cheaper than I bought it. It's such a steal and it's great for so many reasons:

  1. Packability: Empty it folds pretty small, so I can pack it in my carry on or checked bag and bring it home full of souvenirs if I need to

  2. Volume: This bag literally held 3 weeks of clothing for me with the use of trusty packing cubes.

  3. Accessibility: Unlike my underseat rolling bag or a backpack, I don't need to pull the whole thing out, prop it on my lap and unzip it. Everything is easily accessed from the top zipper.

  4. Front Pocket: The pocket in the front is big enough for all the passports and important paperwork, and zips for safety.

  5. Style: Understated, we bought one in black and one in navy blue.

  6. Durability: The quality of the fabric is way superior to other packable totes that I own.

Now that you have the bag picked out, what do you put in it?

Overnight Flight Essentials

  • Deodorant - for the next morning when you land, you want to feel fresh!

  • Eye drops - for the next morning!

  • Hand lotion - for the next morning and throughout the night. Airplanes really dry you out!

  • Hand sanitizer - for after every meal or bathroom visit

  • Tissues - for equalizing your ears upon landing and ascent

  • Face masks - the disposable blue ones are the best I think for traveling. They are the most breathable, most comfortable for sleeping in, and cheapest for disposing of when you land at your destination. Bring a few just in case some break. Note: these are mostly optional worldwide now. Be sure to listen for any announcements from the cabin crew stating otherwise.

  • Eye mask (I used to use a basic furry lined one, but lately I LOVE these self-warming eye masks. They get warm as soon as they come out of the package, and stay warm about an hour. It's nice on a chilly airplane to put you to sleep. Bonus is that they are comfortable, disposable, and individually packaged.

  • Mini toothbrush picks. These are amazing. You can buy in little mini packs or mega packs, but basically this little brush has a blue center that releases a fresh peppermint tooth gel once you start brushing it around your mouth. It's very subtle and you can kind of brush around while you are landing, and no one really knows what you are doing. The bristles work to scrape away the overnight ick, the gel provides a minty fresh mouth, and the pick is for any extra duty. Toss in the trash when you are done! No rinse and spit and no sink required!

Get them here: or by clicking on the photo below.

an ad for a waterless toothbrush pick

  • Neck pillow - this is a game changer. I never understood why so many people had these, but you need one! Get a good one (not the inflatable kind, you will regret it) and pick one that has a snap on it. This way you can snap it to a bag strap or a carabiner.

  • Medications - a trick I use with these is to take them at the time you should be taking them at home for the flight. Once you arrive, jump on the new time zone schedule. Just make sure that is safe for whatever meds you are on, of course.

  • Chapstick

  • Passport

  • IDs

  • Pen and paper - you never know when you need them.

Entertainment Needs:

  • Magazines

  • Book - keep it small and light

  • Noise Cancelling Headphones

  • Extra batteries, if needed

  • Phone charger - there aren't always chargers on board, but just in case keep it handy.

  • Foreign adapters (you'll need this pretty soon after you've landed)

  • Snacks for you (I usually pack Oreos or a favorite candy to have with my free red wine after the in-flight meal, and then some kind of breakfast granola bar for the morning in case the morning meal option isn't super. Bonus if you can bring an orange for the morning. There is nothing better than the smell of orange after 10 hours. So juicy and delicious!

What to Wear on Your Overnight Flight

  • Wear socks - these are your slippers for walking to the bathroom mid flight! Just be careful what you step on...

  • Easy on shoes - for the afore mentioned warning!

  • Long leggings or a long cotton dress- no buttons or zippers - Dress for the country and weather you are going to. These options cover my legs from the cool air (don't forget you will also have a blanket on the long hauls), they are comfy enough to sleep in, and aren't too constricting for sitting down a long time.

  • Sweater - no buttons or zippers - something cozy, but not sloppy. You don't want to look like a college kid rolling out of her dorm room. I usually bring an oversized cardigan, or if I am going to cold weather I will just wear a sweater that doubles as a top.

Pack your sweater or even a pair of slippers into your personal bag, and pull them out when you need them.

When You Land

After landing make sure all those overnight flight essentials are packed in your personal bag again, save for some used up snacks and magazines to lighten your load at your destination. Stock up snacks again for the return trip and you're good to go.

Safe travels!

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