How to Beat Boredom on Your Next Flight

By The AirHelper | Last updated on

Nothing says fun like sitting in crowded, cramped, stale-air cubicle for several hours, right? Okay maybe not.

As much fun as travel is, the actual getting there can be pretty rough sometimes. That’s why it’s important to prepare ways to keep yourself entertained while you fly. And if you don’t already know (but you probably do), counting on that in-flight entertainment system or in-flight wireless internet is never a good idea.

Using Technology to Stay Entertained While Flying

If you’re a technology lover, then you get the joy of various modes of entertainment + the lightest way to pack. Here are a few ways you can utilize your love for tech to stay entertained on your flight:

Sitting in the Plane

Download Movies Onto Your Laptop Before You Leave

Watching movies is a great way to pass the time. But if you rely on the in-flight entertainment system or internet, you’ll likely either spend a bunch of money or end up disappointed with a service that doesn’t work that well.

Pick out some of your favorite older movies and any new ones you want to see and download them onto your laptop before you leave for your trip. (I like to do this when I’m packing so I don’t forget and because downloads can take awhile.) If there are movies you love that have a sequel (or seven – I’m looking at you, Harry Potter), even better! Your long-haul flight can feel like a movie marathon instead of solitary confinement.

Load Up Your Kindle with Books

If you’re a book lover and have a Kindle, load it up with a few different types of books. I like to make sure I have at least one fiction and one non-fiction to choose from, that way I can change the pace mid-flight if my attention wanders.

The beauty of the Kindle is that you can carry as many books as you want without having to actually carry them. And if you’re good about keeping it charged up, your Kindle will most likely last from your flight through the end of your trip.


Populate Your iPod with Music and Podcasts

Podcasting is all the rage right now. That means you can make your iPod even more entertaining than it already was! I like listening to music when I’m feeling sleepy and podcasts when I need my brain to focus on something other than the long flight ahead.

These days you can find a podcast on nearly any topic, but if you’re into listening to travel podcasts, check out a few of our favorites here.

*Pro tip: for all of these devices, don’t forget to charge them up, bring your earbuds, and bring your chargers and protective cases!

Going the Old Fashioned Route to Staying Entertained While Flying

Not a technology lover? That’s okay! There are plenty of things you can do to keep yourself entertained on your flight – although your bag may be a bit heavier. (Or not, actually…my Macbook Air is nice and light, but my charger weighs twice as much!)

Bring a Notebook and Pen

You don’t have to be a writer to enjoy jotting thoughts down on paper. I find that being stuck in a place with nothing but paper and a pen allows me to sort through my thoughts better than any other time. It usually takes five minutes of utter boredom and despair, but after that the floodgates open and the thoughts flow so fast that my pen can barely keep up.

For your next flight, bring a notebook and pen and start brainstorming…anything! It could be a musing on something going on in your life, a new idea for work, or something you want to work on in your free time. There’s nothing more energizing than having ideas pouring out of your brain faster than you can track them down.


Pile Up Some Magazines and/or Newspapers

Get a stack of magazines from home or the newsstand – or a newspaper if you prefer – and you’ll have a variety of things to occupy your mind while you fly. Bonus: when you’re finished, you can get rid of them to lighten your luggage load.

Tip: flight attendants do a lot of sitting after the food and drink service and often appreciate receiving magazines and papers you might be finished with. It’s a great way to spread the wealth and recycle at the same time.

Pack a Big Book!

There’s no getting around it – books are heavy. But if you’re going to pack a book anyway, why not pack a big one? The bigger the book, the more material you have to read on your flight (thus allowing you to really get lost in another world instead of focusing on how much sitting you have left to do).

I use longer flights as a way to compete with myself and see how many it takes to finish some of the longer books on my reading list. For example, I’ve been reading Infinite Jest on my last three flights. This works well with books that capture your attention but that you won’t be dying to finish when you get home (so you can save them for your next long flight).

Mixing It Up

When it comes to beating boredom on an airplane, I need to mix it up. Having spent time living on in two places at once (a six hour plane ride apart), I’ve had to endure a lot of long flights. Now I usually start with an hour or two of music and a podcast, two hours of reading, and then a movie to cap off the flight. This helps me engage my brain in different ways and reminds me to get up and walk every once in a while. (Don’t forget about the importance of stretching your legs on a long flight!)

I also like to have all my tech tools plus a book and notebook – both because I want to mix it up and to have a backup in case my technology fails or the batteries die. There’s nothing I hate more than sitting in one place for a long period of time so I go a long way to ensure that I can’t get bored on a flight.

What are your favorite ways to stay entertained on a long flight? Let us know in the comments below!

Image Credits: William Warby, unknown, Peter Hellberg, Cooper.Gary