Don’t make Flying Boring

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Long-haul flights (3 hours of flying time or more) can be an opportunity rather than an inconvenience; it is all a matter of perspective. All of us travel for many reasons—for work, to learn, to attend an event or function, to visit relatives. The best thing you can do on your flight is to get yourself into the correct mindset for your trip.

Who says you need Wi-Fi to beat boredom mid-flight? Here are a few interesting and creative activities to try.

Things to Do on a Plane

1. Play Games

No Wi-Fi? No problem. Seasoned travellers like Chris Backe enjoy playing games that can be accessed offline and have zero ads. Author Eileen Roth is an advocate for having fun the old-fashioned way by playing games like:

  • Pocket/travel games. E.g. Backgammon (Magnetic), Yahtzee, etc.
  • Paper games like Tic Tac Toe or Hangman (If you are traveling with someone)
  • Puzzle books (E.g. crosswords and word searches)


2. Creative Writing

When traveling on a journey long enough to serve inflight meals, the secret is to see the glass half full as opposed to half empty. The silence and lack of distractions make long distance flights an opportune time to get creative and try your writing skills – you may just discover you have them. You don’t need to be a journalist by trade to put pen to paper. Here are some content ideas to get your juices flowing:

  • Think you’ve got what it takes to write a short film or book? Then pick up a pen and make magic happen.
  • If you find it difficult to find the time to write your diary, a flight overseas should give you ample time. Inma Gregorio likes to jot down her thoughts during her trips. She’s a believer that a ‘good old pen and paper are always a source of never-ending entertainment.’

3. Learn a Language

Before your trip, download a language app like Babbel and Duolingo. You are likely to get more out of your trip if you are available to connect with its residents in their language. Take advantage of the time you’ll have on the plane and learn the need-to-know phrases of the country you’re visiting, especially if you are travelling there for the first time, or, in case it is your second visit, you didn’t learn phrases the first time you went there.

4. Pre-load Your Content

Even if there is a Wi-Fi connection on your flight, it might not always be reliable or fast enough to stream movies, TV shows and music. I have been taking most of my India-USA and India-Europe flights on Emirates for at least six years, if not more, Emirates was the first airline (or amongst the first) to introduce onboard WiFi. But inevitable, the WiFi works less than 30% of the time, especially on long sectors such as Dubai to USA.

The Co-founder of Strabe Ned Nadine recommends long-distance travellers to pre-load their content of choice on their phone or tablet before boarding a plane. One of the favourite things he likes to do is pre-load blogs he wants to read. Ned saves them in reading mode, that way once he is on the plane he goes through them one by one. He finds this methodology works for videos, ebooks and music.

5. Keep Your Hands Busy

Knitting is a good way to give your gift a personal touch. Start or complete a project of knitting, crocheting or needlepoint. Before you hit the tarmac, download photo editing apps. When you’re traveling at high altitude, use these apps to get the photos on your phone Instagram-ready. Social media guru Louise Sattler likes to use plane time to organise her photos on her computer. During a long flight, she has the rare opportunity to label them and add tags.


If you are sitting by the window, you can take advantage of the view. Use your smartphone to capture different views of (or from) the sky. As the plane will be in motion, getting the award-winning shot may take some time. But on an international trip, time is all you have.

6. It’s Good to Talk

Full-time traveler and writer Kelly Hayes-Raitt loves talking to interesting people on the plane. They can be either seat-mates or flight attendants. She finds it a good way to get travel tips for her destination. Some regular flyers like Ahmed Bhuiyan also find that engaging in deep conversations with strangers can be a fascinating experience. Peter Lombard stresses that to have a mutually interesting dialogue with your seat-mate, you should listen as well as talk. Learn from them.

When deciding to get chummy with your seat neighbour, I advise you to tread lightly. Not everyone is open to talking on a plane. Be sure to take note of your seat-mate’s tone of voice and body language as you attempt to shoot off.

7.Inflight Yoga

When traveling on a long-haul flight, sitting in a small airplane seat can cause tension to build in your muscles. The physicians at Mayo Clinic advise that during long flights, passengers ought to stand up and stretch their muscles at least once an hour. This motion helps to prevent stagnant blood pools from causing potential clots, i.e. deep vein thrombosis (DVT). As yoga relieves stress and tense muscles, many flyers turn to this form of exercise on a plane. However, doing yoga on the plane can be challenging as you don’t want to encroach on your neighbour’s space.Treating the airplane aisle like your yoga studio tends to raise a few eyebrows. Though that doesn’t stop yoga teacher Katy Kay from executing yoga stretches in cabin aisles when she feels the need to stretch. The good news is if you’d rather not show off your downward dog skills on the aisle, there are a few effective poses and stretching exercises you can do in your airplane seat to loosen your muscles.


8. Colouring for Adults

Don’t dismiss colouring books as child’s play. Adult colouring books have recently become the rage now. Style blogger Vanessa Vallente has her heart set on Vogue’s, ‘Vogue Colors A to Z’. Naomi Ritz finds that when coloring, the repetitive movements are soothing and relaxing. Still think colouring is for kiddies? Have a look at this Mandala Coloring Book, it could very well change your mind.


9. Listen to a Podcast

Before your flight, you could focus on an area of personal development and download podcast episodes accordingly. You’re bound to come off your flight feeling enlightened and more confident.

Must-haves on a Long Plane Ride

My tips will make you survive your long-haul flight. Survive and thrive. To beat boredom effectively, I advise you mix the activities up, pace yourself and don’t forget to stretch! As well as things to do on a plane, there are also items that you’ll need to increase your comfort. Every flyer’s list for long plane ride must-haves will vary depending on personal interests. The most popular ones include:

  • Device (like Mobile) to watch Videos / listen to Music.
  • Toiletries
  • Homemade snacks
  • Hand sanitiser and wipes
  • Warm clothes
  • Medicine (as required)
  • Eye mask and earplugs
  • Tech tools
  • Notebook and pen
  • Books and Magazines

Time flies when you’re having fun. I am confident that my tips will keep restlessness and boredom at bay.

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