24 Things to Do on a Plane When You're Bored
Picture this: You're rushing to the airport, iPhone half-dead, without a worry in the world. All you need is for the battery to last until you board the plane so you can breeze through the airport with your boarding pass in your iPhone wallet. Once seated, you know you can expect an outlet to plug in your tech and in-flight Wi-Fi so you can finish a few urgent work tasks before nodding off to your favorite Disney movie or the latest new release. Then you board—and to your shock and horror, there is no outlet, no Wi-Fi, not even an entertainment system!
We've gotten so used to technology being readily available on flights that it's turned us into lazy travelers. While our parents travel with their fully stocked travel wallets, their Sudoku books, their fully charged tech, we board unprepared and hoping for the best. But on the off-chance that your next flight is technology-free, take these tried-and-trusted tricks to keep you entertained. Don't sweat if your entertainment system is broken—we've got everything to keep you busy.
To Keep You Distracted
- Bring a book. Whether it's a random paperback bought at the airport, a fully charged and fully stocked Kindle, or a carefully chosen novel that takes place in your destination, you'll be happy to have the backup if your entertainment system fails.
- Watch a new series. Pick one TV show you've been meaning to watch, and download the first season to your iPad. You'll never be short of something to watch.
- Listen to a podcast. Sync up a few TED Talks, or download your favorite podcasts. You'll enjoy listening to them as you gaze at the clouds outside your window.
- Play a game. If you're traveling with someone, bring a compact game to play in-flight. When traveling alone, make sure you have a few brain game apps downloaded to your phone to keep you entertained at takeoff and landing.
- Have a cocktail. Yes, flying is a lot more fun with a cocktail. Make your own, or order a glass of wine—just don't overdo it. Dehydration on airplanes is real.
- Find shapes in the clouds. Make a Spotify playlist before leaving, and make it available offline so you can listen to it while finding fun shapes in the clouds you're flying through.
- Write postcards. Why spend precious time on your trip to write postcards? Write them on the plane on the way back, and mail them from the airport when you land.
- Plan your next trip.
To Be More Productive
- Make a pros-and-cons list. Chances are you've got a dilemma that's preoccupying your thoughts. Take your flight time to write a pros and cons list—and make a decision before you land.
- Learn a language. Heading to a country where you don't speak the language? Take your flight time to learn a few key words and phrases.
- Organize your bag. If you left in a rush, chances are your carry-on or handbag is a jumbled mess. Take the time to KonMari the contents of your bag and get everything organized.
- Get online and unsubscribe to email lists. Do you have access to in-flight Wi-Fi? Take the time to answer all your emails and, while you're at it, unsubscribe to all those mailing lists that are clogging your inbox.
- Try coloring. You know you want to try it—but can never find the time. Bring a small set of pencils and a coloring book on your next flight—you'll never want to land.
- Plan something. Plan the décor of your next home, a dinner party, a surprise birthday, or a work project. You'll be surprised how productive you can be during a few uninterrupted hours.
- Edit your Instagram photos. If you took hundreds of photos on your trip, use an app like VSCO to edit them and make them picture-perfect. Then drop them into Planoly to create the perfect Instagram grid.
- Try journaling. Write down your thoughts from the trip and keep these memories forever.
Get to Work
To Stay Healthy
- Give yourself a sheet mask. You may be embarrassed to prance around the plane with what looks like a ghost's face, but you'll be radiant upon exiting the flight.
- Stretch your legs. Get up and take a walk around the plane to avoid all sorts of health issues that arise from being seated for long periods of time. Get an extra bottle of water from the flight attendant while you're at it and stay hydrated.
- Learn to meditate. There's no better time to give meditation a try than when you're stuck seated for long periods of time.
- Write a heartfelt letter or email. Emotions are intensified when high up in the air, so take the opportunity to express your gratitude to someone, write an apology, or let someone know you care.
- Eat a healthy snack. Bring your own snacks on the plane to stay healthy. That way you won't worry about missing the dinner cart, either!
- Start a gratitude journal. Start small: Write down three things for every day of the past week you feel thankful for. Keep the habit when you reach your destination.
- Try desk-side exercises. You can't exactly work out on a plane, but you can try desk-side exercises that you can do with very little movements.
- If all else fails, sleep. Have a snooze-worthy playlist ready, pop on your noise-canceling headphones, wrap yourself up in a blanket, and drift off to dreamland. You'll be happy you did when your jet lag is nonexistent.