When traveling to your dream destination, long plane flights are often unavoidable and just a plain nuisance to get through. However, you can’t fight the fact that you need to get from point A to point B somehow, so we’ve compiled some pointers and useful advice on how to battle the long-flight blues—starting off with some basic flight essentials.
- A comfortable neck pillow to steal naps
- A large bottled water to stay hydrated
- Non-perishable snacks—trail mix, crackers, cereal, etc.
- A book—such as one from our list of best summer reads, a travel guide or a novel set in your destination—and a few of your favorite magazines
- Lip balm to combat the dry air
- An iPod or other mp3 player
With these primary items on hand, you can generally pass time by napping, listening to music and reading. However, there are also a number of unconventional and active ways you can beat boredom during your flight.
Create a personalized letter
We always write on our friends’ Facebook walls or shoot them text messages, but when was the last time you actually handwrote a letter that they could keep, treasure and refer back to? Pack a couple sheets of paper, colorful markers, pens/pencils, scissors—with blades shorter than 4 inches—and a glue stick in your carry-on luggage and make a customized letter for a close friend or family member. The more personalized the letter is the better: change pen colors, doodle or draw pictures or even cut and paste words or pictures out of magazines.
Work on challenging crossword puzzles or mind teasers
Tricky as they can be, crossword puzzles are actually fun and addicting—and a great way to pass time. There are many books with crossword puzzles, Sudoku teasers, word searches and other word games that you can find at a bookstore or even at the airport to bring along on the plane. Try packing something like “The Total Brain Workout,” a book of 450 puzzles made to sharpen your mind and improve your memory.
Play games or watch DVDs on your laptop
Many planes charge you for internet connection, but that can be easily avoided if you download games onto your laptop prior to traveling. Tons of websites offer free downloads for games, many of which are addicting enough to keep you occupied for long periods of time. My favorite download-friendly games include Bejeweled and Diner Dash. I suggest downloading the free trial versions since you’ll only need the games for a temporary period. Another option is to bring along one of your favorite DVDs and watch it on your laptop. The only con is that playing DVDs tends to quickly eat up most laptop batteries, so plan and charge your laptop accordingly. Remember to play it safe, since not many planes have outlets.
Play portable board games with a travel companion
It’s amazing how everything comes in convenient travel sizes these days—including your favorite traditional board games. On Amazon, you can find adorable, express-size versions of Monopoly, Scrabble, Sorry and even Clue to take along with you on your trip. You could probably fit these in your pocket!
Keep a travel journal
You can either buy a journal before your trip or at the airport, but make sure you get one that is sturdy and easy to write in. Journaling is an excellent way to pass time, relax and reflect. After all, the non-plugged-in free time you have on a flight is something you might rarely enjoy otherwise. Write about your thoughts regarding the trip, how you managed to plan it or the exciting plans you have in store once you reach your destination. Create lists, doodle or even try your hand at poetry or a short story. If you’re traveling with a friend, try writing a goofy story together by trading the journal back and forth after writing one sentence each. Out of ideas? Try bringing along a guided journal like Listography, which prompts you on what to write and should keep you entertained.