With a summer full of international adventures just around the corner, it’s time to stop dreading those long flights and start thinking about ways to make them a fun part of our travels!

Get out and Move

Whether or not we exercise enough is often linked to preventing aches and pains and being able to sleep well, both on and off an airplane! Whether your flight is six hours or sixteen, you will have to prepare yourself for quite a lot of sitting still and when time zone changes are involved, you will want to be tired enough to sleep. Try to get out and about not only the day of your flight, but also on the days leading up to it. This will help you release energy before your flight, which will help tremendously if you get anxious or nervous when flying. Even if you fly all the time and are used to long flights, it helps to release that energy in order to ensure that you can rest accordingly and arrive to your destination feeling refreshed!

Pack in Advance

Take the time to start setting out what you want to bring on your trip at least a few days in advance. Since you are travelling to an international destination, you might want to buy things that you normally wouldn’t need, such as plug adaptors and a passport cover. It’s also a good idea to buy travel sized containers for liquids so that you have essentials like shampoo when you arrive to your destination in case your luggage gets delayed. Preparing your packing list and packing before the day that you depart will alleviate unnecessary stress and you will be able to rest at ease knowing that you will arrive to your destination prepared.

Take Your Pick

Check with your airline to find out what time online check-in opens so that you can be ready to choose your seats as soon as possible! Most airlines allow you to check into your first flight at least 24 hours before departure, though some give you even more time, which is why it’s worth checking in advance. Before online check-in starts, log into your reservation to fill out as much information as you can in advance, such as your passport information, emergency contact details, and any dietary requirements for meals (FYI: special meals like vegetarian usually get served first). When the time comes to check-in online, make sure that you have information such as your booking reference or ticket number readily available so that you can log-in and choose the best available seats! When choosing your seat, take into consideration things like how often you plan to get up and how much of the journey you think you will sleep – these can be big game changers when debating between a window seat and an aisle seat!

Give Yourself Time

Get to the airport with plenty of time to spare in order to avoid any unnecessary stress. You should always get to the airport at least two hours before an international flight, though three hours is generally the rule of thumb (sometimes even four hours in advance depending on the size of the airport, the weather, public transportation, etc.). It is always better to be safe than sorry! Most airports have Wi-Fi that you can use to check in with friends and family at home and who doesn’t love hitting the airport shops? Especially when you are heading back home and have some last minute gifts to buy for loved ones.

Switch Off

Not to worry – if you accidentally forget to turn off your phone or switch it to airplane mode, you won’t be the cause of any plane crashes. Instead, if you think you turned your phone off or simply forgot to switch it to airplane mode, you will most likely arrive to your destination with a dead battery. Not. Fun. Especially if you were planning on contacting anyone upon arrival. People survived for many years without cell phones, so it’s not the end of the world if this happens, but it is recommended to have a working phone in case you find yourself in a situation where you really do need it. So remember to throw a phone charger in your carry-on bag along with those travel-sized liquid containers.


Bring Your Own Headphones. Seriously. You won’t regret it. Most airlines provide earphones for international flights, but they are usually not the most comfortable. We recommend headphones that cover your ears (even better if they also block out external sounds), since you might have them on for a number of hours. If you prefer wearing your iPod earphones, then that’s fine too. Bring whatever you feel most comfortable with.

Get Cozy

While most airlines will provide you with a blanket and small pillow, it’s always nice to have some extra comforts like a neck pillow, eye mask, and earplugs. These are absolute essentials if you are a light sleeper, but will also make the journey much more comfortable for even the deepest of sleepers. Sure, you might wake up with your hair slightly tousled from the eye mask, but at least the neck pillow will help prevent any kinks in your neck. Always be sure to have extra earplugs on you too, since they are easy to lose when you’re asleep and what good is having only one earplug? With both earplugs in, you will be able to get some decent shut-eye, even if it’s only for a few hours, which will help you kick jet-lag’s butt upon arrival!

Get Your Stretch On

Happy teenage travelers explore Vienna during summer youth travel program

It is suuuper important to keep your blood circulating during international flights by continuously moving. There are all sorts of exercises that you can do (see photo) from your chair or while up and walking around the plane. Never miss an opportunity to stand up and stretch – stretch while you’re waiting for the bathroom, take a lap around the cabin while your seatmates goes to the bathroom, or do exercises in your seat while watching a movie.

Stay Hydrated

Teen travelers relax in Tuscany vineyard pool during summer photography program in Italy

Just like everything else that goes with preparing for your trip, drinking enough water shouldn’t be put off until the last minute. It’s easy to get dehydrated when travelling for hours on end and trust us, there is nothing worse than arriving to your destination and not feeling particularly well simply because you didn’t drink enough water. While you should always drink lots of water, try to drink a little bit more during the days leading up to your flight. Take a water or sports drink with you to the airport and make sure that you finish it before you go through security. It’s also a great idea to buy some water after you go through security so that you have a bottle to re-fill on the plane (there are usually drinking water taps in the back of the plane or you can ask your flight attendant for a re-fill). If you don’t have a bottle on the plane, not to worry! Feel free to ask for as much water as you would like – you can always ask for water with something else (juice or soda) if you feel like changing things up a bit.

Choose Wisely

Italian gelateria seen on summer teen travel photography program

Everyone who has flown internationally knows that the best part is getting to watch more movies than you ever thought possible! When planning your in-flight movie viewing schedule, keep in mind the time at your arrival destination. If you’re meant to sleep for some of the flight so that you arrive even just a little rested, then don’t plan to watch the movie that you’ve been dying to see during the time that you should be sleeping. Try to watch that movie when you should be awake but are struggling to keep from falling asleep. If you just can’t sleep, try putting on something a bit calmer instead of the latest superhero movie. It might seem a bit silly, but there is truly an art to in-flight entertainment. Not to mention you will have something to chat about with fellow travelers when you are ready to take a break from the screen.