What to do on long flights? Hmmmm….. that’s always a toughie.
I don’t know about you, but that last hour (or 2-3, depending on flight time), I get extremely antsy and don’t know what to do with myself. I’ve almost cried, on a few occasions. True story. Sitting there with no idea what the hell you’re supposed to do with yourself (for hours) is the worst feeling ever. Thankfully, after taking dozens of flights over the past few years, I’ve come up with a few ways to kill the time. Part play, part work, part sleep, and part nonsense.
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My number one tip: Plan in advance. Hence the reason you’re reading this now, before you’re at the airport waiting for your plane to arrive right? 😉
Follow my advice and the question of what to do on long flights won’t ever be a problem again.
| read |
A pretty obvious first choice. My recommendation is to put a few books on your kindle so you have some choices. I use the brand new Kindle Paperwhite to save space in my bag. Make sure you spice up your selections (one mystery, one chick flick, one informative, whatever your style), so if you get bored of one, you’ll still have others to choose from. Choices are key here.
Fast, easy reads are always a no-brainer, as they are just that – quick and easy. This way, when I’m at the beach, I’m already invested and can get right into the book. The first few chapters are alway the hardest for me. Anyone else?
Or treat yourself to one of those 200 page magazines at the airport. You’re on vacation, go for it! Done with the mag? See if someone nearby wants to swap.
| play |
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Cards (yes, you can play an assortment of card games yourself, remember solitaire?) You might have to play a condensed version of the game if the tray table isn’t big enough, but hey, it’s better than nothing.
Bring along an activity book (some good ones here, here, and here), and work your mind by playing some sudoku, word jumbles, word searches, crossword puzzles, etc. Better yet – challenge a friend (or hey, complete stranger!) and time each other! It may seem trivial now, but I bet you’ll be happy you have an activity book on the plane.
| watch |
Movies always shave off a few hours here and there, and help the time go by really well. If you don’t have the luxury of sitting in a class high enough for free movies, consider putting a few on your iPad. Look at the movies offered on flights beforehand (see Delta’s current movies here), and download your top 2-3 at home. You’ll save a few bucks and get some great ideas for new movies on DVD.
Or why not watch something to get you in the mood of your future travel destination? The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’s a great idea if you’re heading to Iceland, Jurassic Park for Hawaii, and Couples Retreat (ok, a bit cheesy I know) for Bora Bora. All my favorites. I even put together a whole list of travel-related movies.
A netflix binge is possible via plane (download a few seasons at home), as long as you’re ok without the opportunity to sprawl out on the couch. Make yourself at home by taking out your snacks now. 😉
| walk/stretch |
Up and down the aisles. It’s good for your legs, and overall health. The flight attendants might not advise it, but after a while it’s nice to get a little change of scenery, even if it’s just a few different faces.
| color |
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Ever heard of adult coloring books? Yes, they are real things, and there’s quite a few good one’s out there. Bring along a stash of colored pencils and you’ll find yourself coloring in the lines for hours. It’s a soothing mindless activity, and can actually help relieve stress. Find some of my favorites here, here, and here. Take a laugh at this one (it’s a little raunchy).
Think people will look at you weird? You’ll be surprised to know that over 2 million copies of adult coloring books have sold just last year alone. Everyone will be wishing they thought of it first. You might have to share your colors.
Bring along a small notebook for when creativity strikes and you want to sketch on your own. Hopefully your drawings look better than mine…
| organize |
I always bring along a small notebook, like this cute travel-themed one. Make lists of things you need to do (when you return home or arrive at your destination), movies you hope to watch, books you’ve been meaning to read. Anything that will help you feel productive.
| listen |
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Another no brainer. Fill up your phone or iPad with music. And just like your book selection, make sure your music is filled with songs from various stages of your life. You’ll see how entertaining it is when a song from your teenage years comes on. (Just remember, no one else can hear the music – keep your singing volume barely audible.)
I like to put a mix of late 90’s/early 2000’s (Britney and Justin included), some Nickelback and co, a few of my favorite classics (Michael Jackson, anyone?), select Broadway tunes, and the Top 40 — this is just my choice of music – no making fun if we have different tastes. 😉
Podcasts are also a great idea, as some are rather long. I’ve been meaning to listen to Serial for quite some time. Have any other recommendations? Lemme know in the comments below!
I also make sure to put some calm music on my phone to fall asleep to. When my eyelids start to flicker, I know it’s time to whip out these tunes, and off to sleep I go. Want to completely zone out? Consider investing in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. My husband swears by them. Looking for something a little smaller? Check these out.
| write |
Nows a good time to get your freelancing writing done, or any other work you may have to do. You’re stuck on an airplane – may as well be a bit productive.
Or, if you’re heading to your next destination (and not home), write out a few postcards.
| snack |
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Go crazy, bring yourself an assortment of fun snacks you wouldn’t normally eat. Oreos tickle your fancy? What about that decorative cupcake you saw at the airport? Consider stocking up on a few candy items beforehand. I like to pull mine out in between activities, and make sure to savor each and every bite. The calories don’t count if you’re thousands of miles above reality, right? :p
But in all seriousness, don’t eat too much sugar or you’ll risk feeling sluggish when you get off the plane. A few bites every now and then is fine, in my opinion.
| drink |
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Treat yourself and have that one glass of wine. Any more, and you’ll most likely feel pretty shitty once your flight lands. Make sure to keep hydrated and drink extra water if you’ve had a glass or two of bubbly.
Don’t feel like shelling out 15 bucks for a cocktail? Consider bringing your own mini liquor bottles from home. They’ll pass through security as long as they meet the liquid restrictions.
| mingle |
Sometime’s you’ll wanna chat, and sometimes you’ll wanna be left alone. Same goes for the person sitting next to you. But on that rare occasion both parties wish to hold a conversation, the flight goes by just so much faster. Try it.
I always enjoy learning about other people’s lives. People are just so interesting (to say the least).
Like that one time I had a full-on dance/stretch party with the lady sitting next me. True story- we were in the first row of economy comfort, which means a ridiculous amount of
leg dancing room. Or that time I made friends with the actor sitting next to me (who starred with James Franco). We watched a movie together (on our own screens and with our own headphones, we even paused when one of us had to use the bathroom). When he invited me on his boat by the end of our flight, things got a little creepy… I’m not sure he knew my husband was in front sitting in first class.
| edit photos |
I’m guilty of taking a few too many photos on my trip, which then end up staying on my phone/camera wasting precious space. If you’re traveling with your laptop- great! Go through and delete any horrible selfies (but make sure to keep a few 😉 ) and edit using your favorite program (I use Adobe Lightroom). Only have your phone with you? Edit those photos – most if not all of the photos you see on my Instagram are edited, with apps like Snapseed and VSCOcam (both free). Play around- might as well be productive! Your photos will be social media-ready the minute you get back to wi-fi.
| take photos |
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One of my absolute favorite things to do on a plane is to look out the window and take pictures. It’s pretty spectacular what you can see from so high up (both day and night — the stars are just phenomenal!) I always chose the window seat, for this reason alone (and the fact that I can rest my head on the wall and fall asleep – sometimes).
Remember most of these and your friends will be asking you what to do on long flights! 🙂
Any other tips to add?
Consider bringing a few of these things along for maximum comfort on the plane:
click to purchase
Tablet (iPad mini shown)
Adult Coloring Book
Noise Cancelling Head Phones
Eye Mask (comes with ear plugs)