No one wants their trip excitement to turn into sheer boredom when flying (or even while on a long train ride or road trips!). Here are some of the top ways to avoid boredom and stay occupied while traveling. Check out these 10 ways to not be bored on a plane, whether you have internet access or not!
The links in this post may be affiliate links.
Banish Boredom with Books
Whether it is an actual book, a downloaded e-book on a Kindle or e-reader, or (my personal favorite for flights) an audiobook, reading or listening to stories will literally (pun intended) transport your mind to another place.
Books: Tangible, papery goodness scrawled with ink; books are a wonderful way to escape boredom without spending time staring at a screen. There are many bestsellers to choose from at the airport, as well as magazines and newspapers. The downsides to books are that they take up a bit of space to pack (especially if you have more than one), and that they require light if flying in the evening or at night (and sometimes even if you’re in an aisle seat). While it isn’t typically an issue to turn on the overhead light for your seat while flying, it can be obnoxious at 2am to be one of the few people using light to read in the wee hours of the night while other passengers are trying to sleep.
Kindles and E-Readers: While the waterproof Kindle Paperwhite is my favorite for e-books for two reasons: 1.) It is waterproof and can be used near a pool without fear. 2.) It feels like looking a book and not a screen. Any e-reader with a long-lasting battery is great for traveling. You can also use a tablet— download e-books to it or use e-book apps.
Audiobooks: I adore audiobooks. They are perfect for long commutes, including flights and road trips. While on a road trip, you can all listen to a book together through the speakers, on a flight you can listen via headphones without having to bother with the lighting you’d need for a book. You can even get headphone splitters for less than $10 so that two people can listen via there own headphones together (great for kids or couples who are seated together). If your flight doesn’t have WiFi, be sure to download an audiobook (or more than one depending upon your flight’s length) to your device prior to getting on the plane.
Watch a Movie or Catch Up on TV Shows
There is always the in-flight movie option, and some flights offer various channels, but if you want to watch something specifically, have it downloaded to your laptop or tablet ahead of the flight in case you don’t have access to WiFi. You can download episodes from Netflix to your device, too!
A long flight is a perfect way to binge watch a season or two of your favorite show (or that one all your friends are into that you’ve been trying to find the time to get up to speed on).
Fun & Games
Handheld Gaming Consoles: Take a handheld gaming system (I still have a couple old Nintendo Gameboys, don’t judge), like a Nintendo 2DS, 3DS, or Nintendo Switch on the flight to entertain yourself or your kids. They even have handheld game versions of board games, including poker, Monopoly, Solitaire, Battle Ship, etc.
Flight Deck: Take a deck of playing cards if you’re not traveling alone. In my opinion, there aren’t enough 1-player card games that you will have enough room to play on the flight (sorry, Solitaire!). There ought to be enough room for two or three people to play Go Fish, Rummy, Canasta, or War.
Play on Paper
Puzzles: Take a book of crosswords, word searches, or Sudoku to pass the time. (This puzzle book comes with all three!)
Drawing on Drawn-Out Flights: If you’re into drawing or sketching, pack a sketchpad or a couple cool coloring books. Just don’t forget to pack a mechanical pencil for the puzzles, and colored pencils for coloring!
Journal: Log your thoughts, create a bucket list of things you want to do or experience when you land, or just catch up on blogging or penning poems if that’s what you’re into. If taking a laptop, type away; otherwise pack a notebook or journal and your favorite pen.
Take a nap or fall asleep overnight if the flight is extra long. A sleep mask can help if the flight isn’t dark enough. Consider packing travel pillows or easy to pack blankets for kids, or a hoodie. Whether it is a 40-minute nap or a solid 8 hours, sleeping is a fantastic way to make time go by when traveling.
Make Small Talk
Chat to the people beside you— maybe they’ve been where you’re headed and can offer tips and insights for places to check out, or perhaps they have a really interesting story or are just easy and comfortable to talk to.
Alternatively, of you get annoyed easily by chitchat, pack some headphones and listen to music or podcasts (or, again, audiobooks) instead. Just be sure to keep them at a volume that won’t be bothersome to those next to you.
For long or overnight flights, spending a few minutes freshening up can not only pass a little time, but also can help keep you feeling less stale and uncomfortable. Consider keeping a toothbrush, toothpaste and face wash in your carry-on so you can freshen up before landing. Feeling a little fresher when you step off the plane can make a big difference.
You’ve got a bunch of time and no reason not to spend some of it clearing your mind and reflecting inwards. If the lines at the airport or the anxiety of your travels have you feeling stressed or uneasy, spend some quiet time meditating in your seat.
Why Not WiFi?
If your flight offers free WiFi, or even inexpensive WiFi, it can be easy to stay occupied by browsing the internet. Whether you prefer to update your own site, browse social media or your favorite blogs, or get lost in Reddit threads, the internet is one of the best distraction tools out there! Even if you can’t text or make phone calls, you can use apps like WhatsApp or Snapchat to talk to friends and loved ones while in the air.
Regardless of which of these ways you choose to help time go by on your flight, be sure to pack chargers and consider an external battery pack for your devices so you don’t arrive with a dead phone or laptop in case there aren’t any outlets on the flight.