How do you beat boredom on a plane? 10 Tips for Surviving Long Flights!

by author David Jones

Air travel is an incredible thing. It really has made the world smaller, bringing people together in the process. There are more flights and airports than ever before. This gives travelers so many options, allowing them to fly anywhere they want.

Each day, countless flights set off for destinations far and wide. Taking a short flight is easy enough. You can simply look out the window and chat to your fellow travelers to pass the time. However, long haul flights are often a different story.

Long flights can be tiresome and frustrating. They seem to last forever, forcing travelers into uncomfortable positions for many hours. They can be even worse if you feel tired or have to deal with rude or noisy passengers.

Even with cozy seats, great food, and personal TVs with lots of channels, long flights are challenging. Still, there are ways to make your flight go better. Here are our top 10 tips for surviving a long flight.

1. Choose the Right Seat

Many people don’t think too long about which seat to choose when booking their flights. Often, people are just excited about booking a flight and tend to overlook this issue. However, it’s actually very important! The seat you choose has a big impact on your overall flying experience.

These days, most airlines allow you to pick any seat you like for no additional fee. Don’t miss out on this option. Choosing an aisle seat lets you move around the plane more easily. This is a good choice for those who want to access the toilets and stretch their legs. If you don’t want to deal with the possibility of crying babies and screaming kids, head to the back of the plane. Families with very young children are often seated near the front.

If you want a seat with extra legroom, choose one in the exit row. If you don’t want anybody kicking or pushing your seat from behind, pick a spot in the back row. If you want to get off the plane more quickly when you arrive, choose a seat near the exit. There are a lot of seats, but some are clearly much better than others!

2. Dress Appropriately

This is something that a lot of people overlook. Choosing the right clothes for your flight makes a big difference. Just think about it: you’re going to be sitting in the same spot for a very long time. Why would you wear something uncomfortable?

Many people make the mistake of choosing clothes to suit their destination, instead of the flight. Don’t worry about the weather where you’re going. You can change when you get there. Instead, focus on wearing clothes that will feel great for the duration of the flight.

Don’t forget that the temperatures on planes vary a lot. Sometimes, they can feel hot and stuffy. Other times, you can have an ice cold air-con blasting right in your face. This is why it makes sense to wear layers. This allows you to adjust your clothing according to the conditions. Also, if your feet tend to swell up, be sure to wear comfortable footwear.

3. Try to Sleep

One of the golden rules of long haul flights is that you should always try to sleep. The time will pass a lot faster if you can nap, even just for a little while. A 10-hour flight can turn into a 5-hour flight with a long nap, for example. Of course, this is easier said than done.

A lot of people find it hard to sleep on planes. That’s understandable. Planes are sometimes noisy and the seats are often uncomfortable. However, there are things you can do to improve your chances of getting some vital shut-eye. For starters, you should always remember to pack a cozy travel pillow. There are many different travel pillows out there. You can find models to suit your sleeping style and provide you with total comfort.

You can also bring along a blanket to help you feel snug and warm. An eye mask makes a big difference too, blocking out the light. Plus, a pair of ear plugs or noise cancelling headphones are useful for drifting off peacefully.

4. Make the Most of Your Devices

A couple of decades ago, people had to rely on ‘in-flight entertainment’ to pass the time. This meant that everyone had to crane their neck and watch the same scheduled movies. Some people brought along simple handheld game devices or books, but that was pretty much it.

Now, we have all kinds of modern gadgets and devices to provide us with endless entertainment. Your phone, tablet, or laptop will help to make the flight go a lot faster. But it’s vital to prepare everything before you fly. You can download a season of your favorite show, for example.

You might also choose to get load up some movies on your device to pass the time. Podcasts are also excellent to listen to while you sit back and relax. You can get an e-reader and fill it with digital books too. Or you can grab a new gaming device and make the time fly. The choice is yours!

5. Power Up

This follows on from our previous point about devices. Don’t forget to power everything up. Our modern gadgets are amazing for entertainment. However, many of them have weak batteries that die within a few hours. This is very true when you try watching movies or streaming music.

That’s why it is so important to ensure that all batteries are 100% charged before you fly. Nowadays, you can also buy separate power banks and spare batteries. These accessories are often vital on long haul flights.

You definitely don’t want to get halfway through the flight and see your devices dying. It’s the worst possible situation, leaving you with hours of travel and nothing to do. A couple of spare batteries or power packs are all you need to save the day.

6. Look After Yourself

By far one of the most important things to do on a long flight is be kind to yourself and think of your health. It’s easy to overlook certain things and feel bad by the end of your flight. Our bodies and minds aren’t really designed to be sat in a tiny, cramped space for 20+ hours. We can feel tired and dehydrated. It’s also common for flight passengers to complain or aches and pains.

First of all, you need to think of hydration. Just like in any other part of life, staying hydrated is super important. If you’re on a plane for basically an entire day, you need to drink a day’s worth of water. Yes, this means you’ll need to visit the tiny plane restroom more often. But it’s better to do that than suffer the effects of dehydration. Drink lots of water or electrolyte drinks. While it might be tempting, try to avoid sodas and alcohol as they’ll just make you feel more dehydrated.

You should also think about deep vein thrombosis (DVT). This is when blood clots can form in your veins. It usually happens in the lower legs and can be painful. Passengers on long haul flights are at greater risk of DVT. To prevent it, stay hydrated, avoid alcohol, and be sure to walk around during the flight. There are even little foot and leg exercises you can do in your seat too.

7. Bring Your Own Food

Have you heard the one about airline food? It’s no joke! Stand-up comedians have routinely criticized the kind of food served on flights. Standards have gotten a little better on certain airlines. However, many people still don’t really like the microwaved TV dinners served on a lot of flights. Plus, long flights pass over different time zones. This means you can be eating breakfast when it feels like night time, for example.

It’s a weird experience. The best way to deal with it is bring your own food. This allows you to eat when you want, at your own pace. It also allows you to pick and choose your favorite snacks. Cereal bars and nuts are excellent options. They’re packed full of slow-release energy. This will keep you feeling good throughout the flight.

Other good snacks for long flights include dried fruit and trail mix. You can bring along some of your favorite drinks too. Experts recommend drinks that are high in electrolytes for long haul journeys. You can stock up on the foods and drinks you love most in the terminal before boarding.

8. Chill Out

Many people worry about long flights. They do lots of preparation. They stress about feeling bored, cold, or tired. They try to think of many ways to ‘get through’ the experience. But why not actually try to make the most of it instead? These days, many people have hectic schedules and lifestyles. We all have so much to do and our lives never seem to stop. A long flight actually gives you a real breather.

It’s a chance for you to sit back, relax, and do whatever you like. Don’t think of your flight as something that needs to be endured or survived. Think of it as an experience to savor and appreciate. Think of it as a great opportunity. It’s the perfect moment to finish a book you’ve been reading or catch up on a show. It’s also a great time to de-stress, forget your worries, and think about your destination.

If you start thinking about all those hours as your own personal ‘me time’, you can have a great flight. In short, it’s all about your mental preparation. If you can make yourself look forward to the flight, you’re bound to have a better time.

9. Choose the Right Airline

If you’re just taking a flight for a couple of hours, you can afford to choose a budget airline. The quality of your flight won’t be as great, but it doesn’t really matter for such a short trip. When you’re taking a long haul flight, the situation is very different. You need to think long and hard about the airline you want to use. The levels of service, customer care, and flight enjoyment vary a lot.

The best airlines offer amazing on-board food and super service. They also give you more entertainment options and assistance during the flight. Leading airlines also provide extra comfort by giving passengers more legroom and wider seats. In short, you can have a way better time by booking with a top-quality airline.

This might mean you have to pay a little extra, but the difference is often worth it. Plus, if you prepare ahead of time and book your flight in advance, you can get a good deal. Many modern airlines also offer seat upgrade bidding systems. This lets you bid on an upgrade and pay what you want to pay for a better seat. Your bid won’t always be successful but can make your flight way more fun.

10. Chat to People

A great way to pass the time on board a long flight is to chat with other passengers. Most people on that plane are just like you. They’re probably a little worried about such a long flight and looking for ways to pass the time. Often, this means they’re very grateful for some company and an opportunity to talk to someone.

Plus, you already have something in common as you’re both traveling to the same place. You can talk about your destination to start off. Maybe your seat-mate is visiting that place for the first time and looking for some recommendations. Maybe they’re a real expert and will be able to give you some pointers to have a better vacation.

Maybe they just want to talk about their kids or their favorite band. Either way, striking up a conversation can really help to pass the time. Of course, you might just be traveling with family or friends. Chatting to them about all kinds of things can help a lot to make the flight go faster too.