Whether you’re a frequent flyer or a first time overseas passenger, it’s easy to run out of things to do on long flights. I’m one of those people who sleep through most of the ride, but to some, extended flights are a bore and a drag. Unless you are in first or business class, it can be uncomfortable or noisy on top of it all –which can make a highly unpleasant experience that also feels like a waste of your precious time. You might as well use that time effectively. Here is a list I put together for ideas to keep yourself busy, along with tips for each activity: 7 things to do on long flights. Let’s go!
1. Work Work Work
Perhaps this is your chance to do some work. Check your work emails or if you brought your laptop, do your homework! If you’re on a business trip, some extra preparation won’t hurt. Some of the work you do might require Internet use, but most flights nowadays offer wireless Internet. It might cost you a little, but if you can use it well, I think it’s well worth your money - especially on a long flight. If this is your vacation and you really prefer not to do actual work, you can even organize your hard drive or iTunes playlist – this could increase your productivity in the future when you’re looking for files. Complete those small tasks you never have time for, and you won’t run out of things to do on long flights!
2. Catch up on Sleep
When would be a better time to catch up on sleep than during your flight? If you’re on an overseas trip, depending on where you are headed, sleeping could also help you stay up and avoid getting jet-lagged later. Sleeping is also the best way to avoid motion sickness. Economy seating doesn’t offer the comfort of your warm bed at home, but if you’re sleep deprived, I bet you can easily be knocked out for a couple of hours. I get abnormally drowsy before and during flights, possibly due to fatigue from a long check-in process. Or perhaps it’s the perfect amount of background noise… But if it’s too loud or too bright for you to fall asleep, board the plane prepared with an eye mask or a pair of sunglasses and a pair of earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones.
3. Movie Marathon
Smaller planes usually have overhead TV screens that air a single movie for the entire cabin to watch. But if you’re lucky, your plane might have a screen for each passenger. Most international planes come equipped with individual TV screens that allow you to watch TV shows and a wide selection of movies, some of which are the latest films. The best part is that you can watch as many as you want and pause them any time you need a break. Free movies featuring the newest, top box office films? It’s time for a movie marathon!
If you don’t usually suffer from airsickness, you can spend the time reading your favorite novel. Pack a lightweight book in your carry-on bag, or buy that best-seller you’ve been wanting to read at the news-stand before you board. Otherwise, bring a couple of magazines and read up on the latest fashion and beauty trends. This should pass at least an hour or two while keeping you entertained.
5. Time for Tunes
For all you music lovers like me, this is one essential thing that will keep you from boredom. Come prepared with an iPod full of your favorite music, and bring a pair of headphones if you have one, because it will give you better sound quality on the noisy plane. Some larger airplanes have USB plugs where you can charge your iPod, so you won’t have to worry about the battery dying. If you use your iPhone or other phone to listen to music, make sure to change it to airplane mode before you shut it off in preparation for takeoff, and you should be good to go once you’re up in the air. Listening to music is the perfect way to help you relax after a long day, or set the mood for your exciting upcoming vacation.
6. Make Plans
If you’ve got a long day ahead, in-flight time is great for making plans for your trip. Plan out your schedule for the day if you can. If you’re on a vacation with a partner or a friend, discuss what you will do when you arrive. This is great for international travel. Unless you’ve purchased a full itinerary tour package, you’ll have to eventually plan out your day, so why waste time doing all of that after you arrive when you could be spending that extra time exploring? Read the guidebook you brought ahead of time, or study the map so you know where to find what when you arrive.
7. Write in Your Journal
Okay, so I know that not everyone is a fan of keeping journals, but writing is a great way to not only pass the time, but to de-stress and clear your thoughts. More importantly, writing about your excitement for the upcoming journey can make a more memorable trip, while writing about your adventures and experience on the way back home will make it a more meaningful one.
I’ve been on flights as long as 13 hours, and although I get tired, I rarely get bored when I do these things listed above. Some of them may seem pretty obvious, but it’s surprisingly easy to forget, or at least forget to come completely prepared. Have you had any experiences with long and boring flights? What are your favorite things to do during extended flights? I’d love to hear them!