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Ten Great Ways to Entertain Yourself on a Long-Haul Flight

Many of us get bored flying abroad, but it doesn't have to be that way. Here are ten fun ways to pass the time above the clouds.
25 Jul, 2023
Ten great ways to entertain yourself on a long-haul flight
Ten great ways to entertain yourself on a long-haul flight

It’s not a prospect many Aussie travellers relish: being at a loose end on a long haul flight.

And with Qantas already operating non-stop flights of 17 hours from Perth to London and working towards flights of 20 hours from Sydney and Melbourne, the time spent on an aircraft is set to get even longer!

Until someone invents a teleporter, you’re stuck with gnome-size seating, complete strangers asleep on your shoulder, and no cute kitten videos to watch on Instagram (although a handful of international carriers now offer onboard Wi-Fi). However, you can make good use of the extended time on an aircraft and possibly learn something new along the way.

Here are ten great ways to entertain yourself on a long-haul flight.

1. Research your destination

OK, you’ve probably already done quite a bit of pre-holiday research before actually getting on a plane (No? You free spirit, you!). But flight time is a valuable resource for finessing the finer details of your trip. Download guidebooks and travel articles onto your e-reader before leaving home, and start nutting out your hitlist of restaurants, attractions, and things to do. That way, you can hit the ground running.

2. Read a great book

When was the last time you picked up a book? Flying is a great time to rediscover the joy of reading, and every airport has a bookshop crammed with bestsellers. If you don’t want to carry an actual book around, download an e-book prior to departure (just be aware that looking at a backlit screen for an extended period may mess with your sleep patterns). Lose yourself in an amazing adventure, grand romance, deep mystery, or literary classic, and those air miles will fly by.

Ten great ways to entertain yourself on a long-haul flight
Ten great ways to entertain yourself on a long-haul flight: Read a good book.

3. Download movies and TV shows

Most airlines offer in-flight entertainment of some description, and increasingly it can be viewed on your own device. So, check what app is required and install it prior to departure. It’s also worth investing in a set of noise cancelling headphones, so you can drown out the hubbub around you and enjoy your choice of movie or TV show in audible bliss. If you’re not keen to leave it up to the airline to define what you can and can’t watch, download the content of your choice from your streaming service prior to the flight and watch it offline on your phone or tablet.

Ten great ways to entertain yourself on a long-haul flight
Ten great ways to entertain yourself on a long-haul flight: Watch your favourite TV shows.

You may be able to continue watching your favourite TV shows when you arrive at your destination using a VPN (virtual private network). For example, you could choose to watch British TV in the USA by accessing a virtual server in the UK. It’s legal to use a VPN in most countries to protect your privacy on unsecured Wi-Fi networks, but check with the jurisdiction you’re travelling to beforehand just to be sure. Bypassing the geo-blocked boundaries of television or streaming services may contravene their terms of service, which we don’t recommend. VeePN offers access to more than 2,500 servers worldwide and a free trial version.

4. Listen to a playlist of travel tracks

Music soothes the savage beast and smooths the journey on a long haul flight. Spend some time before your trip compiling a travel playlist of tracks that you really enjoy and download them onto your device. You’ll be able to listen to them on board the aircraft, and throughout your trip.

5. Catch up on your podcasts

These days it seems like everyone is pumping out podcasts: TV personalities, radio hosts, self-help and fitness gurus, celebrity chefs, and the list goes on. And there are only so many you can listen to, right? Well, use this opportunity to catch up! Download ten or twelve one-hour podcasts and you’ll have enough content to get you from one side of the planet to the other. And you can avoid the negative effects of excessive screen time in the process.

Ten great ways to entertain yourself on a long-haul flight
Ten great ways to entertain yourself on a long-haul flight: Enjoy a selection of podcasts.

6. Play cards

An oldie, but a goodie: pass your travel time by pulling out a deck of cards. Great solo games include Patience and the many versions of Solitaire, while two players can face off over Gin Rummy, 500, Kings in the Corner, and long-time family fav Go Fish. If you’ve never played cards, now’s the time to learn how! Download a set of instructions for your game of choice and start shuffling!

7. Start a travel journal

Many travellers choose to keep a journal as a way of remembering the intricacies of their trip and sharing them with family and friends at a later date. Purchase a suitable notebook or simply start a word document on your laptop, and get into the habit of writing in your journal daily — starting on board the aircraft! Record your thoughts on the upcoming adventure and your preconceptions of the country you’re visiting. It will be fascinating to look back at the end of the trip and see how close to, or far from the mark you were!

Ten great ways to entertain yourself on a long-haul flight
Ten great ways to entertain yourself on a long-haul flight: Start your travel journal.

8. Get crafty

You may only have 30 square centimetres of tray table in front of you, but that’s useful crafting space nonetheless! So, get creative! Craft activities that don’t need much real estate include beading, knitting, crocheting, sketching, and even colouring in! You’ll find adult colouring-in books (the latest travel craze!) widely available in airport bookshops.

9. Practice the art of conversation

No one likes a Nosey Nancy or Oliver Over-sharer sitting next to them on an aircraft. But given you’ll be rubbing elbows with your neighbour for hours to come, it’s nice to exchange some basic pleasantries. And if a genuine conversation does strike up, make it your aim to find out something interesting about this person fate has put beside you. It’s thought that there are just six degrees of separation between all of us; your mission is to work out what they are!

Ten great ways to entertain yourself on a long-haul flight
Ten great ways to entertain yourself on a long-haul flight: Get some sleep.

10. Count sheep

Getting a good night’s sleep on an aircraft is nigh on impossible unless you’re adept at doing it upright. However, you can give it a good go by replicating the bedtime routine you would normally follow at home. Rather than watching movies until the wee hours, get ready for sleep at the usual time. Brush your teeth, wash your face, find a comfortable position, and turn out the overhead light. Some travel zzzs may come your way.

This post was published thanks to VeePN.

Do you have any suggestions to add to our list of great ways to entertain yourself on a long-haul flight? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.

Additional images: Envato 

Adam Ford

About the writer

Adam Ford is editor of Top Oz Tours and Travel Ideas, and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger, and photographer. He has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa, and the Middle East. Adam worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. He loves to experience everything a new destination has to offer and is equally at home in a five-star Palazzo in Pisa or a home-stay in Hanoi.

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