Winter in Canada means many of us are either planning a trip or thinking about it with envy. With spring break coming up in the next couple of months for many Canadians, we thought it was timely to give you some long trip tips, including things to do on a long flight.

Before You Board

Headed somewhere on a trip? Lucky you! If it’s a long flight, you’ll want to prepare yourself for that long stretch spent in a small plane cabin. We’ve got tips for things to do on a plane that will help you enjoy your time in-flight.

Preparing for a long flight actually starts well before you board. If possible, book your tickets early so you can pre-select your seat and pick the one that suits your needs the best. Like to hydrate and make frequent trips to the bathroom? Consider a seat by the bathroom. Need more legroom? The exit rows or an aisle seat are your best bet.

Booking well in advance also gives you the opportunity to pick the flight time and path that suits you best, like a mid-afternoon flight or one with only one connection, or better yet, no connections.

If you’re sitting on unused points either with the airline or through a credit card, there’s no time like the present to use them to upgrade your seat. Any upgrade will likely give you a more enjoyable flight. No points or miles to use up? It never hurts to ask when you’re checking in if there’s an upgrade available that you can slide into at the last minute.

Lastly, if you’re feeling bold and really want to prepare your body for anticipated jet lag,  start to modify your sleep patterns before your flight to make it easier to adjust to your travel schedule. Think of early rising or early bedtimes a few days before your flight if you can manage it. This could be especially helpful if you’re not one of the lucky few who can sleep a full eight hours on a long flight.

Tips for Long Flights - Departure Day

We don’t mean to sound like your dad but get to the airport early! These days, especially during a busy winter travel season, the airport requires extra time to navigate. You don’t need that extra stress leading up to a long flight.

If you can, try to fit some exercise into your day before you travel. It’ll help you relax once you’re in the middle of a long flight and may even improve your chances of getting some sleep! If you can’t make it to the gym or on a walk, use your extra time at the airport to walk around the terminal. Then do some stretches before boarding. Stretching will get your blood flowing and lengthen out muscles that can contract while you’re seated for a long time.

Most importantly, dress comfortably. You’re going to be seated for a while so wear comfortable clothes that are loose fitting and allow your skin to breathe. For your feet, wear supportive shoes for that extra energy boost when you’re trekking through the terminal to your gate.

Carry-On Packing Tips for Long Flights

  • Bring your own pillow! If you forget to pack it, look for one at a shop in the terminal.
  • Eye masks. They may dim the lights on your flight, but an eye mask will block out all the remaining glow to help you relax and maybe even sleep.
  • Headphones are a must, and bring noise-canceling headphones if you have them.
  • Bring your own entertainment. You never know when you’ll find yourself on a long flight where the entertainment system is down. Pre-download some shows or movies onto your device so you’ve got options if you need them.
  • One word: snacks. Food on a plane is available, but it’ll cost you and your options will be limited. Ideally pack a few nutritious snacks before you head to the airport (because those will cost you too).
  • Pack a water bottle. You’ll need to keep this empty as you go through security, but most airports have plenty of water fountains that you can use before you board. Staying hydrated is key to staying comfortable and helps you avoid deep-vein thrombosis (blood clots in your legs) that can occur during long flights and periods of being seated.
  • Remember some key toiletries. Long flights mean you’ll likely want to freshen up at some point, especially before landing. If you wear contacts, bring your case and solution, along with your eyeglasses, in case you need to take these out. A toothbrush and toothpaste are also a great idea, or a change of clothes if you’re going from a cold to warm destination.
  • Have little kids? You can bring special carry-ons that can sit in front of their seats (after takeoff) to make little beds for your kids to stretch out and sleep once it’s time for some rest.

Things to Do on a Long Flight

You’ve boarded, stowed your carry-on and settled in. Now, what are some things to do on a plane? There are only so many hours you can spend watching a show or movie, so switch it up a bit to keep your mind busy. Here are some things to do on a long flight:

  • Take a break from watching a screen to read or do a puzzle. Long flights don’t need to mean 8+ hours of screen time. Give your eyes a break with a different form of entertainment.
  • Stretch out. An important tip of long flights is moving your body however you can to avoid those blood clots we mentioned earlier and keep blood flowing properly in your body. Take a bit of a walk up and down the cabin aisle or do whatever stretches you can manage at your seat. Remember to be mindful of your fellow passengers and the flight crew. You don’t want to be the person holding up drink service because you’re doing lunges down the aisle.
  • Fuel yourself smartly. Dig into those nutritious snacks you packed and keep yourself fueled. Try to get healthy foods that will keep you from a sugar crash or feeling uncomfortable in your seat.
  • Try to relax! A long flight might not seem like an opportunity to relax but it can be if you set your environment up. Use that pillow, eye mask, headphones and rest your eyes. Play some relaxing music and snag a blanket from the flight attendant if you want to make yourself especially cozy.
  • If you’re traveling with young children, make sure they’ve got their own entertainment and carry-ons to help them get cozy too. Ideally this sets up a more relaxing long flight for you too.
  • Avoid alcohol. Save the drinks for your destination! Alcohol can dehydrate you, so pass on it and opt for water instead. Pass on having coffee too, since it can also dehydrate you.

Tips for Long Flights: Travel Insurance

One of the best ways to prepare is to secure travel insurance beforehand. Travel insurance gives you peace of mind before you even board and won’t add to your stress while you’re actively trying to de-stress on that long flight. Instead, you can look forward to your adventure, free from worrying about emergency health care needs or cancellations. GMS offers travel insurance plans to give you that peace of mind so you can lay back and relax on that long flight to your exciting destination. Bon voyage!