My carry-on bag for long flights
My family used to drive from Ontario to New Brunswick (in Canada) at least once a year when I was a kid. I remember being excited about packing my backpack full of things to do in the car - books, colouring pages, toys, snacks, and whatever else would help keep me occupied on the 16-hour drive. At some point portable DVD players became a thing, so my siblings and I switched to binge watching movies the entire trip (at the expense of entering zombie mode by the time we arrived).
When I did my first long-haul flight from Toronto to Hong Kong in 2012, I thought 'Easy. I know how to do this'. I can't quite remember what I put in my carry-on during that first trip, but I do recall feeling physically ill after watching movies for 16 hours straight. Travel tip: Don't do that. After many, many long-haul flights, I now have my carry-on bag down to a science. To clarify, I'm talking about things I need during the plane ride on trips when I have other checked luggage. Long plane rides are no joke, so make sure you do what you can to make the experience as comfortable as possible.
Who wants to keep their shoes on for 16 hours? Not me. But planes are freezing cold most of the time, so make sure to pack warm socks to keep your toes warm and cozy.
A water bottle
Staying hydrated during flights is super important. However, sometimes it can be annoying to have a cup sitting on your tray the entire time, and the flight attendants don't always come around with water when you need it. Bring a (non-plastic!) water bottle with you; in my experience, flight attendants are always happy to fill it up. Just make sure it's empty before you go through security when you check in.
A good book
Okay, so maybe this won't apply to you if you're not an avid reader. But in my experience, watching the in-flight entertainment screen the entire time will make you feel terrible. So bring a book, a journal, or some other form of entertainment to give yourself a break from the screen. This will also help you wind down if you're trying to sleep. Need book suggestions? Here is a list of my all-time favourites. I try to buy my books secondhand, but Book Depository is a great alternative if you're looking for something specific because they ship free worldwide!
I'm one of those people who always brings chapstick with me, but even if you're not, make sure to have some for the flight. Most planes are quite dry, and you'll be glad you brought it just in case. I make my own using this simple recipe from One Little Project.
A tooth brush
For me, having the option to brush my teeth while I'm in transit makes me feel just a little less gross. Even if you don't have space in your carry-on for toothpaste, just brushing your teeth with water will feel wonderful. Trust me.
Again, maybe not something that applies to everyone, but I always bring one or two essential oils with me on flights. I really like lavender to help me relax if I'm trying to sleep, and also a citrus blend if I need an energy boost. Some brands even have convenient little travel packs with mini bottles, like these ones from DoTerra. Just make sure not to go over your limit for liquids!
Long haul flights usually include multiple meals (unless you're using a really terrible airline), but if you're like me, you'll need a few snacks too. I used to get excited about buying junk food for plane rides, but I quickly learned that healthy snacks are a much better idea. Sometimes I make some popcorn to bring with me (if I have room in my bag!), but I always bring almonds and a few granola bars too.
My yoga mat
About a year ago I started bringing my yoga mat with me as a carry-on item, and now I can't imagine travelling without it. It's been a lifesaver during long layovers or early morning flights when I don't have time to practice before heading to the airport. Although people will probably stare at you while you practice, it's better than feeling stiff during and after your flight! For shorter trips I bring my YOGO Mat, which is the best travel mat in my opinion (get 15% off your order with the code LUNARLAURA). This mat is also great for practicing outside and bringing with your while camping or hiking.
For longer trips, I bring my Manduka PROlite mat, which is the mat I practice on every single day. Note: Be aware of the weight limit! If you're on budget airlines, they might include your mat in your carry-on limit.