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.
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
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
Usually I’ll spend some of the time sleeping, and it took me a while to figure out how to sleep on a plane because it’s not as easy as it sounds. But during the hours when you’re awake, 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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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 ( for help read this article: How to 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
- For more ideas check out my bucket list!
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