10 Things You Can Do to Keep Yourself Busy on an Airplane

10 Things You Can do to Keep Yourself Busy on an Airplane @seattlestravels

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.

2. Read

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.

The laptop ban comes into effect on some Middle Eastern/US flights, but not to worry. With the help of Cloud solutions from CloudDesktopOnline and CloudAppsPortal access your Desktop and online files from anywhere with your favourite device.

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.

10. Sleep

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

linen neck pillow
Pendelton Wool Neck Pillow$65.00

pendelton wool neck pillow
Travel Themed Playing Cards – $5.00+

hawaii playing cards
World Map Travel Blanket$60.69

world map travel blanket
Cosmic Galaxy Headphones $80.55

cosmic galaxy headphones

High Quality Rubber Ear Plugs – $8.69

rubber ear plugs

Leather Travel Wallet$44.96

Leather travel wallet

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

10 Things You Can do to Keep Yourself Busy on an Airplane @seattlestravels

What do you do to keep yourself busy on a plane?

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31 Responses to “10 Things You Can Do to Keep Yourself Busy on an Airplane”

  1. Cat Ospina
    September 26, 2012 at 7:21 am #

    Number ten is not only my favorite one but also my only option!
    I’m like a baby… sometimes I even drool. hehehe. I really don’t know how I manage but I usually fall asleep during the taxi!!
    Last time, I was in Philly and due to Isaac (storm) we were stucked in the finger for one hour, then once we pulled back I closed my eyes and dreamed time away. When I woke up (one hour after) I looked out the window and surprise! we where exactly where I felt asleep as the rain had come back and no take over was allowed. I guess I don’t need to explain you how the actual flight went once we manage to leave ground 😉
    Cat Ospina recently posted..JUAN LES-PINS, Côte d´Azur

    • Seattle
      September 26, 2012 at 11:21 am #

      hehe, I’m completely jealous of your airplane-sleeping-abilities! I bet most passengers would have been getting restless at that point, so it’s great that you were able to pass the time with a nap 😀

      • maria
        June 26, 2015 at 3:50 am #

        loved this soo helpful do you have a blog on what to do in LA and Las Vegas

  2. Family Travels on a Budget
    September 27, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

    GREAT LIST! Here are a couple:
    Write blog posts for the future (and enjoy vacation more)
    Sudoku (I actually have a sudoku book just for travel and write the date and destination in the corner of each puzzle — my own little travel journal)
    Edit photos on the digital camera (Especially when heading home from a fun place)
    My husband and I “pretend” Christmas shop in the Travel Mall magazine
    Make a list of places still to see

    Okay… that’s all I’ve got. Your list is great! LOVE the “I’d rather have” game.

    • Seattle
      September 28, 2012 at 12:00 am #

      Oh–blog posts are a common thing for me to do in flight! Love the pretend Christmas shopping idea too! Also used to do the date/sudoku thing 😀 😀

    • Hi Seattle!
      March 9, 2015 at 3:34 pm #

      Do u have any ideas for people with friends traveling
      Hi Seattle! recently posted..Kayaking in Victoria’s Harbour

  3. Mintchoc-sheacookie
    June 13, 2014 at 4:19 am #

    I’ve got a 12hr long flight this month and I think this list will help alot:))

  4. Tori
    June 25, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

    I also travel alot and I find that drawing really helps kill time, even if your’e just doodling 😀

    • Seattle Dredge
      July 14, 2014 at 10:57 am #

      Yeah, that’s definitely a good one. Epecially if you’re travelling with friends and make little games out of it, haha.

  5. Rocko hamam
    July 31, 2014 at 8:57 am #

    I always play cards. I also take a notepad to write short stories. I play would you rather. And i take pencils and a colouring book xx 🙂 xx

  6. michelle
    December 21, 2014 at 8:20 pm #

    i have an 8 hour flight to london..this totally helps thanks

  7. Hi Seattle!
    March 9, 2015 at 3:33 pm #

    Hi Seattle Not the City hehe! Im traveling with friends and was wondering if u have any ideas on what to play?

  8. Lauren B.
    June 13, 2015 at 11:31 pm #

    Thanks, great tips! Leaving Louisiana for NYC on Tuesday and as the days get closer, I get more nervous! My first flight was to Tanzania and I’ve to to Nicaragua, and Hawaii but still flying freaks me out and I need something to distract me!

  9. John
    August 7, 2015 at 6:16 pm #

    I love to draw on the plane, draw what you see out the window or just little doodles!?

  10. Really!?!
    November 9, 2015 at 10:54 pm #

    ‘Walk’ – realistically this could only be done by 1 to 2 people at best on your average size plane. If 5 or more people were to do that, then you have a human traffic jam in the aisles. Let alone, if I was on the plane and saw people walking up and down the aisle would make me nervous. Additionally this is ideal if you are sitting on the aisle if not you are annoying at least 2 other people to get up and walk around only to walk around (as opposed to go to the restroom). To me this is the most selfish suggestion and does not keep in mind social etiquette to your fellow passengers.

    • Seattle Dredge
      November 10, 2015 at 9:37 am #

      I guess that makes me selfish.

      But, if you had read more closely, you would have noticed that I mentioned doing this on a large plane with two isles, and suggested not doing it during busy times like serving food & drinks. And, if you didn’t want to let your fellow passenger out of your row on a 13 hour flight because it “annoyed” you, then perhaps that makes you selfish too.

      • Really!?!
        November 10, 2015 at 1:52 pm #

        Sorry, read the article but missed the line with large planes and two aisles. Granted, I would be the selfish one to not let anyone out if I sat in the aisle seat of 13 hour flight. I personally have never been on a longer flight than 4 hours (in air) so my answer was solely based off of domestic flights in the US or to Mexico/Canada.

        Now if you have suggestions on what to do when you are stuck on the tarmac for several hours, that would be great. (which sucks since regulations do not allow you to move freely in the cabin when you are on the tarmac, in-flight entertainment is not operating and the WiFi not enabled)

  11. Hi
    December 16, 2015 at 2:01 am #

    You are so beautiful Seattle are you married or have a boy freind or a BFF i mean a pretty girl like you should not be alone and great tips and ideas I will surly help me with my 5 hour trip to Anchorage:)

  12. Lisa
    December 27, 2015 at 7:57 am #

    Hi, not to be a wet blanket but you can’t serve yourself alcohol on a plane. You can bring the mini bottles without getting flagged by TSA but it’s a violation of federal law for anyone but the certificate holder of the airplane to serve on a plane. Also probably against airline policy even if not advertised. Maybe people don’t get caught often or flight attendants maybe look the other way, but still…violation of federal law, guys.

  13. Thank You!
    February 10, 2016 at 11:56 am #

    Thank you so much! This was very helpful considering I have a 2 hr. Car ride and a 5 hr. flight! Ill finally have something to do for a change!

  14. Ivory Sandoval
    March 22, 2016 at 10:32 am #

    Best article ever! I’m going on a 10 hour flight from LA to London and was freaking out. Thanks a lot!

  15. Rachel
    September 2, 2016 at 12:28 pm #

    Great list! I always try to sleep but it can be hard to get comfortable in the seats. Watching movies is always my go-to, especially on international flights!

  16. William Parsons
    October 12, 2016 at 4:35 am #

    I prefer to sleep than doing anything while on travel.
    William Parsons recently posted..Ipad Video Lessons From Tablet Training

  17. joseph
    November 29, 2016 at 5:35 am #

    Thankx a lot dear, I like killing time while drawing and watching the nature through the window.

    Now if you have suggestions
    on what to do when you are
    stuck on the tarmac for
    several hours, that would be
    great. (which sucks since
    regulations do not allow you to
    move freely in the cabin when
    you are on the tarmac, in-flight
    entertainment is not operating
    and the WiFi not enabled)


  18. Bridget
    June 9, 2017 at 11:43 pm #

    this is going to be really helpful, I have a 24-hour flight in two weeks so I need help. 😛 I also find that drawing the view from out the window can be fun, it’s always changing so you have to do it quickly. my brothers and I sometimes challenge each other to see who can do the best one the quickest.

  19. malika
    November 27, 2017 at 7:35 am #

    Hey interesting ones… They are useful to utilize your time…


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