We have all experienced it; that long haul flight where you feel like you couldn’t bare another single second of sitting in that torture device of a contraption that they call a “seat”. You are about to lose it when your neighbour bumps into your arm for the 22nd time and your leg has started to tingle.
The life of a traveler.
Okay, so I’m exaggerating. Flying isn’t really that bad, but when you start to get a little moody in a small space, it can start to feel that way.
So far this year, I have personally flown on 35 flights, and the year isn’t even over. So, I can assure you that I have had my fair share of boring, relaxing, crazed, comfortable and outright dramatic flights in my traveling career.
During these epic voyages I have come to learn a few tricks to make the time pass quicker, and I would love to share them with you. So, here it goes. Ten things that you can do during a flight to keep yourself busy;
1. Watch a Movie
Obvious right? This one is probably a given. However, sometimes I tend to ignore the in-flight entertainment, and this definitely makes the flight go much longer. Whether you have a screen in your seat, or share the overhead screen with 15 others, movies can be a lifesaver on planes.
A personal screen is always best, as you can choose what you want to watch or stop a film if you don’t like it.
Even the movies that are played for everyone can help in distracting you. Pop on your headphones and try to get into the movie. Before you know it, there will only be three hours left in your flight!
I can’t tell you how many times I forgot to pay attention to the beginning of a movie, and therefore had no interest in joining part way through–so make sure you keep an eye on the screen!
You can also watch movies on your own laptop, iPad or other handheld device.
Whether you buy a magazine at the airport, grab the local newspaper, bring an e-reader (this site is my favourite for downloading books) or haul along a 2000 page novel–reading will definitely help pass the time. Even if you’re not a regular reader, I promise you that if you open up a book on an airplane, you will suddenly be on page 56 without even realizing it.
I would suggest a travel themed booked (find these in the “travel literature” section of the book store, not simply “travel”) to get yourself in the traveling spirit. It’s probably better to read a book with a plot to keep you captivated, but you could also bring along a guide book of your upcoming destination.
3. Go Online
Plenty of flights have in-flight wifi these days which makes long commutes a breeze.
This means that you can chat with friends, finish some work, or simply just stumble the web. This one has always fascinated me, even as it becomes more common. If every flight had wifi, I would honestly never dread a long flight. If you’re going to be on a long flight, and could either use that time to get some work done, or would be happier if you could chat with friends, it’s a good investment to invest in in-flight wifi.
Tweeting from 30,000 feet? Hell yes.
4. In-Flight Entertainment & Info
This goes along with watching movies; you can also watch TV shows, documentaries and other videos. You can listen to any type of music that you like, with enough song selections to last for 40 flights. You can play games (on flights provided with hand devices), including action, puzzle or trivia.
I swear that I spend most of my flight watching the flight info and maps. I love to know where we are, especially if we are flying over land. It might make time go a little slower to have the estimated arrival to keep flashing across the screen, but it’s also pretty awesome look out your window and say “hey look, it’s Greenland”.
There are a ton of options with in-flight entertainment, so feel happy if you find yourself on a flight with individual seat monitors. Some flights offer personal handheld in-flight entertainment devices upon request.
Or, bring your own tablet.
5. Go for a Walk
They frown upon “gathering in the galley ways”, but there is no rule against walking on the airplane. It is good to get some exercise during a long flight, and it can also help pass a little time.
Stretch those legs, get a look at something besides the back of the seat in front of you and maybe even meet someone interesting. You won’t be the only one walking around. I’ve actually had some good conversations while standing in line for an airplane restroom.
If you can manage, try to do a lap of the plane. Depending on where you are sitting, try walking all the way to the back of the plane (there is usually a small area here where the flight attendant gather, but you can walk through it) and around to the other aisle. Walk back up to the front, cross through any open area and back down to your seat. If you want to do it twice, go ahead.
Try to make a game out of it; how many languages can you hear throughout the walk, how many hats do you count, how long does it take, can you beat that record?
*tip* Don’t do this while they are serving food or drinks.
6. The “I’d rather have…” Sky Mall Game
Whenever I found myself bored, with a magazine at hand, I used to play this little I called “I’d rather have…”
It’s a bit more entertaining to play it with a friend, but it’s still possible to play by yourself. Simply skip to the point of the magazine that displays products that are for sale, or being promoted. Usually they are lined up, or only have a couple on each page. For example, if there are four items on each page, you point at the one that you would rather have.
It becomes humorous when you get to pages where you absolutely hate every item on the page. But, you still have to choose one item that will burden your life. Because–you know, the items actually become yours once you point at them :p
7. Games from in-Flight Magazine
Most in-flight magazines have a selection of games from Sudoku, crosswords, wordsearches, trivia or other puzzles. These are a good way to kill a little time, even if you’re not usually into puzzles.
If your book is already written in, try asking your neighbour for theirs (or secretly switch them while they get up to use the restroom). Or bring your own pack of playing cards.
8. Talk to your seat-mate.
Unheard of, right? Socializing? Psshh.. Isn’t that what texting is for?
Maybe you’re heading to the same place. Maybe they are flying to Europe for the weekend to eat baguettes by sunset on their personal helicopter and just wanted to try coach out for fun. Maybe they are an escaped felon, fleeing for a new life. Maybe you are? Have some fun, you’ll probably never see this person again.
In all seriousness though, I’ve had some pretty awesome 4 hour long chats with various seat-mates around the world. It’s great if you both have a connecting flight, as you’ll have someone else to pass the time with at the airport too.
9. Have a Drink
I know that they always say not to drink carbonated beverages or alcohol while flying, but then why do they cart past your seat twenty thousand times offering exactly that?
One drink is not going to hurt, so pick your poison and enjoy the ride. I’m not suggesting that you get hammered or anything, so behave yourself and sip in moderation.
If you don’t want to spend $12 on a drink off the menu, think about bring your own mini plastic bottles with liquor from home. Bottles of 100ml or less are perfectly legal to bring in your carry on, and will save you money.
A drink might help you with number 8, and will definitely lead to number 10.
This one is utterly impossible for me, so if you can manage to snooze on a plane, I totally envy you.
It might help to bring a pillow, those little neck pillows are a great investment. Spend $10 once, and you will have it forever. Make sure you get a comfy one, and think about a small blanket and ear plugs too. Sunglasses help to make it darker, and to make you feel like you have more of your own little space.
Some people like to take sleeping pills or gravol. These definitely help if you have trouble falling asleep, but make sure your flight is at least 8 hours, because you might have a hard time waking up after 6 or less.
Celebrate those journeys where you actually get a row to yourself. *aaaahhh* I remember a few flights like that. Thankfully I had one of those on my 16 hour flight from Toronto to Hong Kong. Score.
5 Bonus Items
11. Count the snowflakes on your window. Beats counting sheep.
12. Find shapes in the clouds. Dolphins? Dragons? Airplanes…wait.
13. Eat. Slowly. Seriously though, don’t shovel it down in one go, draw it out and enjoy it.
14. Madlibs. Make your own. The dirtier the better.
15. Take Photos. Some of my favourite shots come from airplane windows.
So these are my ten suggestions of how to keep yourself busy during a flight. I’d eagerly take any suggestions that you might have, as my year isn’t over yet, and I still have a few more to go. I’m aiming for 50 ;]
8 items to make your flight a little smoother:
Linen Neck Pillow –$38.00
Pendelton Wool Neck Pillow – $65.00
Travel Themed Playing Cards – $5.00+
World Map Travel Blanket – $60.69
Cosmic Galaxy Headphones – $80.55
High Quality Rubber Ear Plugs – $8.69
Leather Travel Wallet – $44.96
The Traveler Kit – $20.00
[Waterproof Container, Santizing Wipes, Sleep Mask, Dental Floss, Lip Ointment, Pain Reliever, Natural Shampoo, Instant Greens Drink Mix, Instant Energy Drink Mix, Ear plugs, Sunscreen, LED Nightlight, Fabric Strip Adhesive Bandages]
See more at the Seattle’s Travel Shop