Tips for Long Flights: 30 Things to Do on the Plane

I travel a lot, and being cooped up on a plane is generally a big part of that. Many of the destinations I visit require 15+ hours of travel time to get to (my trip to Falkland Islands was the longest at a whopping 42 hours!). People are always asking for tips for long flights and how to handle the boredom. The answer for what to do on a long haul trip is to keep yourself entertained. 

The thought of sitting on a plane for over ten hours is one reason that keeps people from going to their ultimate travel destinations. But, I have found that if you prepare properly and plan your air time like you would your travel itinerary, the time will seem to go by more quickly.

For example, my inflight schedule might look something like this:

11:00 Play Five Games of Candy Crush
11:30 Mealtime
12:45 Watch a Movie
2:30 Read Stored Article About my Destination 

3:00 Write First Draft of Ho Chi Minh Story
4:30 Attempt a Crossword Puzzle

The trick is having a few things to do to choose from, so that boredom will not set in. Here are some ideas of what to do on the plane that can make your flight more pleasurable.

30 Tips and Activities for Long Plane Rides

Fun & Productive Things to do on the Plane for Long Flights

1. Clean Up Your Phone

Cleaning out and organizing your smartphone is like giving it a breath of fresh, digital air, and inflight is the perfect time to do it. With a little effort you can streamline your digital life, plus free up some memory at the same time. Here’s how:

  • Delete Apps: ditch those apps you haven’t used in eons. Uninstall them and free up some precious phone space.
  • Organize Apps: Create folder categories for your apps (like photography, social media, travel, health, etc) and group similar ones into a folder.
  • Clean up Photos/Videos: Go through them and delete the blurry, duplicates, and all those embarrassing selfies. 
  • Contacts Clean-Up: Say goodbye to those outdated or forgotten contacts.
  • Clean your Case: Remove the case and give it (and your phone) a good cleaning.
Clean Up Your Phone

2. Binge Watch a TV Series

You’ve been promising yourself that you’d watch the first season of Game of Thrones or Downton Abbey, and now is the time to do it. Long flights are a great excuse to indulge in a TV series you’ve been wanting to watch. 

Download a few seasons of a series you want to catch up on or revisit an old favorite. If you need ideas, see our Best TV Series to Watch list.

With so many hours to fill, you’ll have plenty of time to get lost in the world of your favorite characters. Just be sure to bring headphones so you don’t disturb your fellow passengers.

3. Organize Your Under-seat Carry on

By the end of a trip my carryon is typically a complete mess. It is a collector of shopping receipts, boarding passes, foreign coins and old bags of peanuts. On the flight home is the perfect time to go through your bag, separating the trash from keepables and organizing all the loose papers and technology. 

It’s helpful to keep your things in different zippered pouches for easy organization — I like the Bagail Ultralight Zipper Pouch Travel Packing Bags.

4. Play Phone Games

When the in-flight movie lineup doesn’t quite tickle your fancy, take matters into your own hands – literally. With an unlimited number of mobile games at your fingertips, your journey can transform into a pixelated adventure. Navigate through mazes, slay virtual dragons, or build an empire, all while cruising at 30,000 feet. Who needs a window seat when you’ve got a world of entertainment in your pocket?

Tips: Make sure to plan ahead and download games while you have cell service or Wifi. In case you are on a winning streak, you may want to bring a back up charger if the plane doesn’t have outlets. 

Play Phone Games

5. Read the News/Magazine

Just because your inflight doesn’t mean you can’t read your favorite news sites or blogs. There are many ways to have access to them when you are offline too. Using the Safari or Chrome browser on your Iphone you can easily open an article and then add it to your offline reading list.

Another easy trick to read articles while in the air is to just open several tabs on your internet browser prior to boarding with any articles you want to read. You won’t have access to any links, but you’ll be able to see everything on each tabs page. I use this method a lot, especially when I am in the middle of writing an article.

6. Answer Emails Offline

Did you know that you can answer emails even when you are not connected to the internet? Yep. And while disconnecting from the digital world might seem counterintuitive, it’s the perfect opportunity to clear your inbox and regain control over your work-life balance. Many email programs allow you to answer emails offline, allowing you to draft and send all your responses in one go after you are connected to WiFi.

Answer Emails Offline

7. Read a Book

From a gripping novel to a thrilling murder or mystery title to an inspiring non-fiction story, a long flight is the perfect time to delve into a good read. Who knows, you may even rediscover a classic novel or find a new hidden gem that will forever change your perspective. 

Amazon has hundreds of free books to download to your Kindle. Don’t have a Kindle? No problem, just download the Kindle app to your smartphone or tablet. If you Like to flip through the pages of a book? Hit up your local thrift store where you can typically pick up a paperback for under a dollar.

Read a Book

8. Enjoy the Inflight Entertainment

Most airlines offer a bunch of inflight entertainment options, which is why you should take advantage of these offerings and indulge in some guilt-free screen time. Whether you’re in the mood for a classic film, a newly released song, or a quick game, you’re sure to find something to your liking. And if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, why not try out a new genre or language?

Don’t forget to bring a pair of headphones, they are not always available on the plane. I will bring my Apple Airpods and my Thinksound earbuds.

Enjoy the Inflight Entertainment

9. Check Something Off Your Bucket List

Why not use the time on a long haul flight to tick something off your bucket list? Maybe it’s learning a few phrases in the local language of your destination or practicing a new hobby you’ve always wanted to try. 

Here’s a few other great ideas:

10. Catch Up on Movies

Indulge in a cinematic feast by watching all the latest releases that you’ve been meaning to see or rewatching an old favorite. Download your must-watch movies or explore the in-flight selection. It’s the perfect way to escape the monotony of air travel and arrive at your destination up-to-date on the best movie releases.

11. Get Some Work Done

If you have work that you need to catch up on, then a long flight can be a productivity haven. Bring your laptop, organize your documents, and tackle those pending tasks. The uninterrupted hours in the air can turn into an uber-focused work session, making your arrival well-prepared and stress-free. It’s the place I get some of my best work done!

Get Some Work Done

12. Play Cards

Who says a deck of cards is outdated? Shuffle the deck and challenge your seatmate or travel companions to a game of cards. Whether it’s a competitive round of poker or a laid-back game of Go Fish or Uno, time will fly as you engage in classic card game fun. And speaking of card games, don’t forget to check out our card game bucket list for a list of fun card game ideas!

13. Bring Mini Travel Games For Fun

Elevate your journey with mini travel games – small in size, big in fun. Unleash your strategic prowess with classic games like chess, checkers, and backgammon. Or, opt for the timeless appeal of dominoes. No matter what game you choose, these pint-sized champs will surely turn travel time into game time.

PS: Amazon has a whole section of travel-sized games.

14. Do Some Coloring

Coloring isn’t just for kids. Unleash your inner artist and carry a travel-sized coloring book and some colored pencils. Be it intricate mandalas or whimsical doodles, coloring can be a soothing and creative way to pass the time, allowing you to unwind and produce a piece of art, regardless of your age.

15. Listen To Music

Music has the power to transform your in-flight experience. Create a playlist that suits your mood or explore new genres that you might like. Whether you want to relax, get pumped up, or simply enjoy some tunes, a set of good headphones and your favorite melodies will elevate your journey.

16. Listen To a Podcast

If you’re a fan of storytelling, learning, or entertainment, podcasts are your best friend on a long trip. From true crime to comedy to self-help, there’s a podcast out there for everyone. Download a series that piques your interest and dive into a world of captivating narratives, informative discussions, or humorous anecdotes. 

Here’s a few always on my playlist: Ten Percent Happier, The Genius Life, The Mel Robbins Podcast and The Doctor’s Farmacy.

17. Practice Learning a Language

They say that practice makes perfect, and what better time to embrace that adage than on a long flight? Try language learning apps like Duolingo or bring a phrasebook. With each phrase you master, you’re not just becoming linguistically proficient — you’re also building bridges to new cultures, new friendships, and new experiences.

18. Do a Crossword or Word Search

Doing a crossword or word search puzzle is an excellent way to challenge yourself and keep your mind sharp during a long flight. Grab a puzzle book or use a mobile app, and watch the hours fly by as you search for words and solve clues.

19. Catch Up On Sleep

While many question what to do on a long flight, savvy travelers know the answer is simple: catch some Z’s. Sleeping in the sky isn’t just a way to kill time; it’s a strategic move. Resting during your flight ensures you arrive at your destination fresh, alert, and ready to tackle your adventures.

20. Surf The Internet

Bored of staring at the same clouds for hours on end? We get it; cloud-watching has its limits. Thankfully, in-flight Wi-Fi is your key to breaking the monotony. So, trade those fluffy clouds for the endless scroll, whether it’s getting some work done, answering emails, or even scrolling through social media. It’s also worth noting that WiFi is typically only available when flying over the US, so make the most of your online time during those stretches of your journey.

21. Do Some Exercises

Sitting in the same position for hours on end can be a real pain in the… well, you know. So, to avoid turning into a contorted mess, it’s important to get up and move around every now and then. Incorporate a few stretches, leg lifts, or even just short walks to promote circulation and overall well-being during your flight.

22. Hydrate Your Face

The secret to landing with that radiant post-flight glow? Hydrate your face. Give your skin the TLC it deserves by applying a generous amount of moisturizer and bringing facial mist and skincare essentials to combat the dry cabin air. 

23. Snap The Sights

As your plane cruises through the sky, don’t let the beauty below pass you by. I mean, it’s not every day that you get to witness sights from thousands of miles up high, right? Be it a mesmerizing sunrise, the intricate pattern of city lights at night, or breathtaking landscapes, take the chance to capture these moments.

Snap The Sights

24. Write a Journal

A blank notebook is your canvas for creativity. Whether it’s jotting down your travel experiences, drafting poetry, or simply recording your thoughts, writing during your flight is like capturing moments in a literary time capsule. 

25. Do Something Crafty

It’s time to get crafty at cruising altitude – and no, we’re not suggesting any cunning plots; we’re talking about tapping into your inner artist. Whip out your creativity and turn your tray table into a studio. From making origami cranes to starting a mid-air knitting club, the sky’s the limit when it comes to crafting your own in-flight entertainment.

26. Organize Your Trip

Organizing your trip while cruising through the skies? Well, we don’t often recommend doing it on the fly, but why not embrace the challenge? Review your travel itinerary and double check the packing lists (just in case you forgot something and need to run by the store when you land!).

27. Meditate

When you’re mid-air, you’ve got the ideal opportunity to reach for inner peace: meditation. Even in a cabin where elbow room is a luxury, you can still find your mental space. Just close your eyes, block out the in-flight soundtrack of coughs and hums, and let your mind take flight to a stress-free destination. If you’re a beginner, there are plenty of guided meditation apps available to help you get started.

28. Chat To Your Seat Neighbor

Your seat neighbor might be more than just a fellow passenger; they could be your next best friend, tour guide or travel partner.. Engage in some mid-air mingling, swap travel tales, or simply bond over the shared frustration of reclining seats. Who knows, by the time the seatbelt sign switches off, you might be exchanging contact details instead of overhead bin space. 

29. Edit Photos

Have you ever looked through your travel photos and wondered if your camera had a vendetta against good shots? Well, now’s your chance for photographic justice. Crop out those random thumbs, sharpen those blurry landscapes and put on a fun filter to turn your photo into something Instagram-worthy.

30. Eat & Drink

Dining at 30,000 feet – it’s like a culinary adventure with a side of turbulence. Sure, airplane food gets a bad rap, but why not savor the sky-high challenge? It’s your chance to rate the mystery meat, navigate the meal trays, and discover the hidden flavors in those tiny condiment packets. Don’t just eat; embark on a culinary quest. Bon appétit, fearless gastronaut!

Eat & Drink
Eat & Drink
Eat & Drink

31. Research Your Destination

When you’re soaring through the skies, you can be your own travel guru. Make sure to bring a trusty guidebook or download some articles about your destination before takeoff. And why not take it a step further by downloading a language app ahead of time to learn a few key phrases? As the plane zips through the clouds, your fingers can do the exploring. From deciphering local slang to uncovering the best-kept street food secrets, you’ll touch down as a true adventurer, ready to dive headfirst into your destination’s culture. Bon voyage!

You see? With these tips for long flights, you’re bound for an adventure, even at 30,000 feet in the air. Dive into the pages of captivating books, delve into podcasts that educate, and immerse yourself in new release movies. You could also embrace the challenge of puzzles, plan your upcoming adventure, acquire a new skill, or simply relish moments of relaxation. Make this high-flying period a gateway to exploring hobbies and passions that often take a back seat. 

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23 thoughts on “Tips for Long Flights: 30 Things to Do on the Plane”

  1. Long flights can be very boring and tiring indeed!
    Thank you for the list of fun things to do, it will definitely be very useful for my future flights now! :)

  2. I totally need to go through my phone and delete apps I don’t use! Good think I have a flight on Wednesday to do it–thanks for the reminder!

    Thanks for the list!

  3. Would have laughed at the notion of binge-watching a TV series, but after devouring an entire series of “The Walking Dead” on my last flight, I’m now a believer in binge-watching to make the time, er, literally fly.

    Carl Kruse

  4. All very helpful tips to cure boredom. I already have tried a few and will love to try the rest in my next travels. And surely I will love to share it with my friends and family :)

  5. I can’t believe I’ve never thought to plan and in-flight schedule! Wish I’d read this post before my journey from UK to NZ. Of all the flights I’ve ever taken that one feels like an eternity. Thanks for the recommendations!

  6. I always load up with a few seasons of a TV-series when I catch a long flight. Nothing better to pass the time in my opinion.

  7. Here’s another idea: Get an app for your smartphone and learn a language! Possibly even the language you will need at your destination. It will be easier and more rewarding if you choose a language that’s close to one you already know. (Learning Dutch is fun for me as a German native also speaking English and a bit of French.)

    Oh, and use ANC (noise cancelling) headphones. They work wonders in planes and buses. My Bose QC 20 are compact and good enough.

    Flights will get more boring when airlines start banning any electronics larger than a phone in carryon. US thinks about extending this to Europe flights, and EU also considers it.

  8. Long haul flights can be really tiresome so thanks for a handy list. Clean Up Your Phone cracked me up, that’s so true because you can’t use it so might as well clean it up. I always use the time to answer emails, so yes that’s a helpful tip for everyone else. I like the idea of checking something off the bucket list… will have to think about that one.

  9. Oh my goodness! an excellent article dude. Many thanks However I am experiencing trouble with ur rss . Do not know why Not able to enroll in it. Will there be any person obtaining identical rss dilemma? Anyone who knows kindly respond. Thnkx


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