My Seven Travel Essentials for International Flights
Air Goods Inflatable Pillow
This is so much more than a foot rest like the image suggests. I've never been able to sleep well on planes until I started using this pillow. I like to use it on top of the tray and sleep school-desk style.
It's also great for your feet too (it comes with a cover for hygiene). I like to inflate it varyingly throughout my flight so that I can change positions and my butt doesn't get too numb.
Pros: Good sleep, comfortable booty, many places you could use (planes, trains, buses, when you have to sleep on the floor in an airport, etc).
Cons: A little bulky, not needed for flights shorter than 6 hours (or flights where you don't need to sleep), takes a hot minute to blow it up (or you can bring a pump).
This may seem simple, but the uses for a scarf while traveling are boundless. I've used it as a shall to cover my shoulders in the Vatican, a wrap to cover my knees in Sri Lankan temples, a burka to cover my head in Turkish mosques. I've used it as a blanket on cold bus rides and a bed sheet during my Sri Lankan homestay. Not to mention a cute beach cover up and of course, the normal use... a scarf for your neck.
Aside from all this, there is one particular reason I love to bring my scarf on a plane... and the reason is that neck pillows just aren't made for smaller people. I know this sounds weird, but I've found that they are all designed for larger-necked people, and I've discovered that if I wear a scarf around my neck and then put my neck pillow over it, I sleep much more soundly with heaps less head bobbing. And we all know, head bobbing is the enemy of plane sleeping.
All of these reasons combined and you have a traveler's greatest tool: the scarf.
I always thought this wasn't a luxury I needed while traveling, until I got bumped to Premium Economy on my Sri Lankan Airlines flight in 2015... they included an eye mask in their comfort packs, and I realized I had been missing out for a long time. Eye masks are incredible convenient for long flights, busy hostels, you name it. It shocked me how much better I slept while using an eye mask and now it's become a necessity. For all the doubters out there, try it once--they're small and foldable and light. I'm sure you won't go back.
About a year ago, I bought the Camera FlexArmour and love love love it! I have a larger DSLR camera bag, but there were some trips I just didn't need all that bulky equipment. I just wanted my camera with one lens in my backpack with me at all times. This sleeve is great because it keeps my canon protected, but isn't too bulky or heavy. This has become a necessity for me while traveling as I try to pack as lightly as possible. No more bulky camera bags!
Deck of Cards
What can I say? I'm a Doyle. And Doyles love their games. I think a deck of cards is essential anytime I travel. I keep one in the front pocket of my backpack wherever I go. When you step on a plane and the screen isn't working and your devices are out of juice and there's no plugs anywhere... live like it's the 90s! You can play a game by yourself or with a travel buddy. Once, I was on a flight that was significantly delayed and thank goodness I had a cool next seat neighbor and a deck of cards. We passed the time drinking free beer and playing Crazy 8s. I can't tell you how many times I've stayed in hostels and played cards with new friends. Having a deck of cards makes you an instant fun-maker. Be that person. Bring the cards.
This gadget isn't necessarily just for an airplane, but rather for airports and your stay while you travel. I picked this up from a T.J. Maxx back in 2012 and fell in love immediately. It's perfect for the digital nomad like me who needs to charge my phone, computer, Canon, and GoPro all at once. And usually at the same time. This ensures that I only need one plug adapter from the country I'm traveling, and I can protect my devices from surges. Truthfully, I've never used it on a plane, but I have definitely used it in airports. When plugs are minimal, this baby is a life saver.