9 Things To Do on a Long Haul Plane Flight to Cure Boredom

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 Tanzania was the longest at a whopping 35 hours!) and people are always asking me how I handle the boredom of a long haul flight, especially when sleeping is nearly impossible for me.

The answer is I keep myself entertained.

Airplane Window Photo

The thought of sitting on a plane for over ten hours is one reason that keeps people from traveling the world. 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 Traveling to Havana
3:00 Write First Draft of Tokyo 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 that can can make your long haul flight more pleasurable.

Ways to Cure Boredom on a Long Haul Flight: Things to Do to Entertain yourself while flying in a plane

1. Clean Up Your Phone

Inflight is the perfect time to get your cell phone in good order and free up some memory at the same time. Here are a few ways to do it:

  • Create categories for your apps (like camera, travel, health, etc) and put all similar ones into a folder.
  • Delete the apps that you never use.
  • Go through your contact list and clean up the entries you don’t need or people you can’t remember
  • Peruse your photos, deleting those embarrassing selfies and duplicates of photos that look practically the same.
  • Remove and clean your case

Read > How to Spring Clean Your Phone

2. Binge Watch a New 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. You can easily download a television series to your iPad or laptop for offline viewing using iTunes, Netflix or Amazon. Then grab your tiny bag of pretzels and start binge watching.

Read > 33 of the Best TV Shows to Binge-Watch
Read > TV Show You Should Binge-Watch Right Now
Read > 9 Shows to Binge-Watch in Flight | Liberty Travel

The cast of Downton Abbey

3. Organize Your Under-seat Carryon

By the end of a trip my carryon is typically a complete mess. It a collector of shopping receipts, boarding passes, foreign coins and bags of old 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 use Ebags Padded Pouches and GoToBag Clear Pouches.

Tip: Always keep items you need throughout the flight in your under-seat carryon

Read > 3 Simple Tips for Packing Your Carryon

4. Play Phone Games

I will shamelessly admit that it’s pretty easy for me to occupy an hour or two playing games on my phone. The trick is to find the perfect game for you. My absolute favorites are Candy Crush Soda Saga (level 672 baby!) and Cooking Fever, where the restaurateur in me gets to serve guests even while I am on a plane. But, there are thousands of others to choose from.

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.

Not bringing any technology? Flip to the back of the airlines magazine, most will have a crossword puzzle or sudoko game.

Read > The Best Games for your New iPhone, iPad, or Android Phone
Read > 10 Entertaining Apps for Long Flights

Working on a cell phone

5. Read the News

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 reading list (see directions below) or use the Pocket offline reader on your computers and smartphones.

Another easy way 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.

Read > How To Save Articles for Offline Reading on Iphone
Read > Chrome for IOS Gets an Offline Read Later Feature

6. Answer Emails Offline

Did you know that you can answer emails even when you are not connected to the internet? Yep. If you have a Gmail account simply download Gmail Offline to your Chrome Browser and voila! You can read and respond to each pending email. Of course they won’t get to the recipient immediately, but will automatically send when you are reconnected to wifi.

Watch Video > How to Send Emails When You Are Offline

7. Read a Book

Obvious, right? Still, so many people forget to load their kindle or pack a book before departing on their travel adventure. Then they are either stuck flipping through those intriguing inflight magazines or paying outrageous prices for reading material at one of the terminal shops.

With a little planning you can not only have a great book to read, but you can do it cheaply.  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.

Tip: Like to flip the pages of a book? Hit up your local thrift store where you can typically pick up a paperback for under a dollar.

Read > Popular Free Online Books
Buy My Book > Bucket List Adventures: 10 Incredible Journeys to Experience Before You Die
Read > Cheap Reads for Kindle

Annette White with her book Bucket List Adventures

8. Enjoy the Inflight Entertainment

If you have your own seat monitor, then lucky you — there’s hours of entertainment in there! Movies, music, games, oh my! Typically, the personal televisions are only available on longer flights or newer planes, but even if you just have a shared overhead screen, keep an eye out (or ask the flight attendants) when they start the movie. They’ll only play it once and you don’t want to miss the beginning!

Don’t forget to bring a pair of headphones, they are not always available on the plane. For longer flights, I will bring my comfy Beats On-Ear Headphones and for quick trips my Thinksound earbuds will do.

Airplane Interior

9. Check Something Off Your Bucket List

Last, but absolutely not least, why not try to check something off your bucket list while passing the time on a long haul flight. What could you possibly accomplish while inflight?

  • Write a Haiku
  • Finish a Crossword Puzzle
  • Write a Handwritten Letter to Someone
  • Start a Gratitude Journal
  • Make an Origami Crane
  • Write a Letter to Your Future Self
  • Meditate
  • For more ideas check out my bucket list!

Annette White learning to make an origami crane in Tokyo, Japan

2018-12-22T19:51:37+00:00March 27th, 2017|Categories: TIPS + RESOURCES|Tags: |


  1. Aishah March 29, 2017 at 1:22 pm - Reply

    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! 🙂

    • Annette White March 29, 2017 at 2:07 pm - Reply

      I certainly hope they keep you occupied on your next flight 🙂

  2. Amy Posey April 2, 2017 at 8:53 pm - Reply

    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. Carl Kruse April 10, 2017 at 2:42 am - Reply

    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

    • Annette White April 11, 2017 at 6:48 pm - Reply

      I’m getting my next series ready for a flight to Switzerland, maybe it’ll be The Walking Dead since I’ve never seen it!

  4. Lopez April 11, 2017 at 8:08 am - Reply

    Long flight can be very boring. . . Thanks for this article it help

  5. Russianblogger April 11, 2017 at 11:41 pm - Reply

    I like to write blog posts on the long flights 🙂 I just have more ideas when on the plane 🙂

  6. John April 12, 2017 at 2:29 pm - Reply

    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 🙂

  7. The Van Cave Project May 23, 2017 at 5:15 am - Reply

    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!

    • Annette White May 24, 2017 at 11:17 am - Reply

      The in-flight itinerary always makes the time go by really quick for me. I hope it works for your next trip!

  8. Ollie May 26, 2017 at 3:07 pm - Reply

    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.

    • Annette White May 28, 2017 at 8:14 am - Reply

      I agree. It’s easy to get hooked on a show, and then you are able to watch the entire season in one shot!

  9. Chris May 29, 2017 at 11:44 am - Reply

    Great ideas Annette! I really like the idea of scheduling out some time if you know you want to get things done.

    • Annette White May 29, 2017 at 11:19 pm - Reply

      The scheduling is one of my favorite things to do, because it does help with the flights going by so much quicker and I get a lot done!

  10. Yves June 4, 2017 at 1:03 pm - Reply

    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.

    • Annette White June 7, 2017 at 9:09 pm - Reply

      Love those ideas! Learning a new language is a perfect idea and noise cancelling headphones are a dream!!

  11. Mike Lee September 8, 2017 at 7:04 am - Reply

    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.

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