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 check in so you can peruse the airport with your boarding pass. Once seated on the plane, you know you can expect an outlet to plug in your phone or laptop and in-flight Wi-Fi so you can finish a few urgent work tasks before nodding off to your favorite classic movie or the latest new release. Then you board—and to your shock and horror, there's no outlet, Wi-Fi, or entertainment system.

This dilemma is a sign that many people have gotten so used to technology being readily available on flights that it's turned them into lazy travelers. So on the off chance that your next flight is technology-free, take these tried-and-true tricks to keep you entertained. Don't sweat it if your entertainment system is nonexistent—we've got 24 things to do on a plane when you're bored.

To Keep You Distracted

Bring a book. Whether it's a random paperback bought at the airport, a fully charged and stocked Kindle, or a carefully chosen novel, 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.

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 so you can listen to it while finding fun shapes in the clouds. Just make sure you download the playlist to play offline.

Write postcards. Why not spend precious time on your trip to write postcards? Write them on the plane on the way back, and then mail them from the airport when you land.

Plan your next trip. Because it's never too early.