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20 Things To Do On A Long Flight to Make Time Fly

Staring down the barrel of a long flight can feel daunting. The prospect of hours in a cramped seat with little to occupy your time is enough to make anyone antsy. But it doesn’t have to be a tedious experience! With the right preparation and activities, even the longest journeys can breeze by.

In this post I’ll provide 20 tips to stay entertained, comfortable, and make your time in the air fly by quickly. Read on to learn how proper in-flight planning can transform those endless hours into pleasant ones. Your next long haul may just be your best one yet!

Bring Books

    Having an engaging book or two is the gold standard for passing travel time. Print or digital, variety is key—bring fiction, nonfiction and a couple different genres. Personally, I like to have a lightweight paperback on hand along with ebooks loaded on my Kindle app. Just don’t forget your charger!

    Load Up Your Devices

    Nowadays we carry endless entertainment in our pockets. Use downtime leading up to your trip to download movies, ebooks, podcasts, playlists, magazines, games, and apps. I rely on my headphones and iPad mini when I fly. With the right media downloaded, you’ll stay happily occupied.

    Pack Snacks

    One of my top tips: bring your own snacks. Airplane food is notoriously blah. I always travel with grab-and-go options like protein bars, mixed nuts, dried fruit, and PB&J sandwiches. Comfort foods like cookies can also boost your mood. No sad airline meal required!

    Use Noise-Canceling Headphones

    The constant engine drone can fatigue your ears. Do yourself a favor and invest in noise-canceling headphones. Not only do they block ambient noise, but you can watch movies and listen to music without cranking the volume. I love my Sony WH-1000XM4 for tuning out the world.

    Drink Lots of Water

    On airplanes, the air is bone dry. Stay hydrated by sipping water frequently, using a refillable bottle or asking the flight attendants. I set a goal to finish a liter before we land. Drinking up will keep you feeling your best on arrival.

    Bring a Neck Pillow

    Trying to snooze upright is a lost cause without support. A U-shaped neck pillow lets your head rest comfortably and takes pressure off your neck while you get some Zzzs. The Trtl Pillow is my personal pick for on-the-go use.

    Wear Comfortable Clothes

    Choose soft, loose fitting fabrics and clothes that don’t restrict movement. Sweatpants or joggers are my go-to for flying. I make sure to layer up with a cardigan or jacket I can take on and off. For chilly cabins, I pack cozy socks and slippers. Comfort is key when choosing your travel outfit.

    Walk Around the Cabin

    Sitting for hours leads to restlessness and stiffness. Whenever possible, take a quick stroll up and down the aisle to get your blood pumping. Just be courteous of other passengers needing the restroom. I set a timer to remind myself to get up every hour or so and stretch my legs.

    Chat with Your Neighbor

    Striking up friendly conversation with seatmates is a nice way to pass the time. I ask about their travels and see if we have anything in common. Sometimes I make memorable connections and new friends! Just be sure to avoid sensitive topics that could cause friction.

    Play Games

    I’m a big fan of games for occupying my hands and mind during flights. Sudoku, crosswords, solitaire, trivia and brain teasers get my gears going. Gaming sets a positive distraction.

    Work on Crosswords

    Crossword puzzles require sharp focus—perfect for flights! I like to buy a cheap book with 100+ puzzles before I fly. The intellectual challenge pulls me in, and before I know it, hours have passed productively. Brain exercises are ideal for air travel.

    Write in a Journal

    Journaling helps me gather my thoughts and reflect on travels. I jot down trip highlights, itineraries, and future plans in a small notebook. Personally, writing helps me feel centered and purposeful even when “stuck” on a plane. It’s also fun to look back on later.


    I take advantage of quiet cabin time to meditate and get centered. Closing your eyes and focusing fully on your breathing does wonders for relaxation and mental clarity. I use the Calm app for short guided sessions. Meditating makes the flight fly by.

    Plan Future Trips

    Since I have time on my hands, I use it to research dream vacations! I’ve discovered some incredible destinations and mapped out trips by browsing travel sites and blogs during flights. A little daydreaming and planning satisfies my wanderlust.

    Craft or Draw

    Simple origami or adult coloring books are great creative outlets on planes. Coloring is therapeutic for me. I make sure to pack drawing supplies, portable watercolors and my activity books. Before I know it, I’ve made art!

    Take Photos

    I like to document trips with photos. Capturing a cool cloud out the window or a selfie of me in my neck pillow makes for great memories. Photos instantly boost my mood and break up the boredom. Plus, they’re fun to look back on later.

    Stretch and Exercise

    Avoid stiffness by doing seat stretches: toe points, ankle rolls, hamstring and calf stretches. For an energizing boost I also do subtle cardio like knee lifts and leg extensions. Stuck in one position too long? Just start moving your body.

    Listen to Podcasts

    I’m an avid podcast listener, so flights are the perfect time to plow through episodes and discover new shows. Based on your interests, there’s bound to be an entertaining option—true crime, science, trivia, comedy, history, and so much more!

    Window Gaze

    One of my favorite pastimes in the air is looking out the window if I’m lucky enough to have a seat with a view. Identify geographic features, look for landmarks, and enjoy the abstract beauty of clouds and sky. It’s endlessly interesting.


    Use your pillow to hunker down for some solid Zzzs. The white noise and gentle vibration of planes can lull you to sleep nicely. Arriving well-rested makes all the difference in starting off a trip on the right foot. I don’t feel guilty about snoozing my way through flights!


    With the right preparation, even the longest journeys can pass enjoyably. Try employing some of these handy tips on your next long haul. Before you know it, you’ll be landing refreshed, entertained and ready for adventure.

    What tricks do you rely on to pass time in the air? Share your best flight tips in the comments below!