5 ways to get through long, restless flights

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5 ways to make the most of a long flight
When you're on a long flight, you can run out of things to do quickly. Here's a few ways to keep yourself entertained – Dec 8, 2017

Unless you’re always travelling, most people will never get used to long-haul flights. There’s little room to stretch your legs, it’s hard to fall asleep and you never know who you end up sitting beside if you’re solo.

“If you think about it, flying is the only circumstance where you’re essentially bound to a tiny seat next to two strangers, in a dry cabin, and with no easy access to food and drinks,” says La Carmina, a travel blogger and TV host based in Vancouver.

“When your body is cramped, insufficiently hydrated and there’s little to do, then, of course, you’ll feel stressed.”

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Gemma Taylor of travel blog Off Track Travel, says, for the most part, people on flights have a hard time sitting comfortably or falling asleep — which can make your restless.

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And some flights are longer than others. According to Hopper, some of the longest non-stop flights include a 17.5-hour flight from Dubai to Panama via Emirates, a 17-hour flight from Dallas to Sydney via Qantas, and a 16.5-hour flight from Los Angeles to Dubai via Emirates.

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And when you are facing a long flight, the best thing to do is keep busy. Below, four Canadian travel experts and bloggers share their top tips on how to keep yourself occupied during long flights.

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Plug in

These days, the majority of large aircraft is equipped with entertainment options with free movies, music and television shows. For most people, this is the best way to pass time and stay distracted.

“Netflix now allows you to download some videos directly to your tablet or smartphone so you can watch entire seasons of TV shows in one sitting,” says travel expert Barry Choi of Moneywehave.

Taylor adds it is also a good time to check out a movie you haven’t seen before or explore new genres.

Be productive

When else do you get 15+ hours of uninterrupted time to yourself? “Be productive and plan something,” Taylor says. “Whether you plan activities when you land, your next trip or a future event, make the most of this quiet moment.”

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You can also pick up a book or sometimes, even start a conversation with your neighbour.

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Carmina says she uses this time to prep or edit photos on her phone.


As difficult as it may be, try to get some hours of shut-eye.

“It’ll be tough, but trying to get some rest is vital since those long flights usually mean you’ll be flying into a different timezone,” Choi says.

And Carmina adds it’s also important to not get stressed or upset if you can’t manage to sleep.

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“Put a dark scarf over your head [or] listen to a calming podcast,” she says. “Take a break, do something else and try again later. If you go with the flow, you will feel rested at the end of the flight, regardless of whether you got some shut-eye.”

Use your hands

Since most of us are glued to our smartphones or computers the majority of the time, a long-haul flight is also the best way to disconnect. Carmina says during these flights, she likes to just do things with her hands, like write.

“I use this opportunity to write article drafts, notes and speeches by hand. Without the internet to distract me, I find I’m more productive. Writing by hand also lets you avoid the annoying light-glare of a tablet or laptop in a dark airplane.”

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And if you are on a long flight back home, this is a great way to capture all of your memories in a journal.


Choi says every two to three hours, make sure you get up and stretch your legs to get blood flowing. Walk down the aisle, make a trip to the bathroom, or just do some arm and leg exercises from your seat.

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Carol Perehudoff, a travel expert of Wandering Carol, says often, people on long-haul flights forget to move.

What you shouldn’t do

Perehudoff adds one thing you should avoid overdoing on a long flight is drinking.

“Don’t drink too much alcohol. It’s too dehydrating and the hangover won’t be pretty,” she says.

Choi says whatever you do, don’t be the passenger who complains.

“It’s unreasonable to think that you deserve special treatment because you’re on a long flight,” he says. “Unless you’re in premium economy or first class, everyone is going to get the same treatment. Be courteous and respect airline etiquette.”

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