A few years back, the US banned electronic devices on flights originating or going through select Middle Eastern airports, such as Dubai International Airport.
That got me to thinking… what if your device died or you just needed a break? What else is there to do to keep you occupied?
Have no fear, I’ve come up with a list of 11 things to do on a long flight, all of which do not require a large electronic device like a laptop.
And while we’re at it, let’s discuss 3 things you SHOULDN’T do on a flight. Because apparently some of you heathens think airplanes are a free for all.
Table of contents
- Brainstorm new ideas
- Color or draw your way to a calm state
- Edit photos
- Spend some time journaling
- Listen to music
- Do mind puzzles or crosswords
- Play a travel-friendly game
- Read a book or magazine
- Take a nap
- Strike up a conversation
- Watch a movie or show
- What NOT to do on a long flight
- What are your tips for things to do on a long flight?
Brainstorm new ideas
Take advantage of your unplugged time and be one with your mind and a fresh notepad.
Here are a few ideas of what you can brainstorm:
- Flesh out ideas for a new business venture
- Make a list of where you want to travel next
- Sketch out a new website wireframe
- Come up with ideas for new blog posts or YouTube videos
The brainstorming options are endless!
Color or draw your way to a calm state
Pack an adult coloring book and a pack of colored pencils and spend your flight coloring like a kid.
Coloring is very calming, so this is a great option for nervous flyers!
Use your long flight to edit all of your trip photos with one of my favorite photo editing apps.
Don’t forget a power bank to make sure your phone stays charged the entire flight. Not all planes or airlines offer in-seat plugs!
Spend some time journaling
Sometimes brainstorming can be too tedious, while journaling can be more of a release. Spend a portion of your long flight reflecting on your trip, either before or after.
If you have time before your next trip, pop over to my post about travel journals to find a fresh journal to take with you!
Listen to music
Check out the latest Beyoncé album or listen to pop hits from your childhood.
If you don’t have music on your phone, check the entertainment system on your flight.
Chances are high that it has a music section with a variety of musical genres to fit your taste.
Do mind puzzles or crosswords
Pick up a fat edition of a puzzle book or tricky crosswords and a mechanical pencil. I’ve heard these types of activities are good for your brain!
I often find myself so engrossed in them that an hour will feel like 5 minutes. What a great way to make an extra long flight go by quickly!
Play a travel-friendly game
Load a few games on your phone, like Minecraft or the latest incarnation of Candy Crush, and zone out for a few levels.
A deck of classic playing cards bring endless game options. Or pack a travel version of your favorite childhood game, like Battleship or Connect Four.
If you need more ideas for travel games, check out my post about travel games for adults.
Read a book or magazine
There are these things made of paper called books, magazines, and newspapers, that don’t require a Kindle, iPad, or some other type of electronic reading device.
Bring a book from home or pop on over to the newsstand in the airport to stock up.
If you’d like a few ideas on books to consider, check out my post on the best travel memoirs by women.
Take a nap
Pack that trusty travel pillow and a soft blanket and catch up on some sleep.
Depending on the time zone you’re traveling to, sleeping at a strategic time can help beat jet lag. The key is to nap only if it’s normal sleeping hours in the time zone you’re headed to.
Strike up a conversation
If your seat neighbor seems up to it, strike up a conversation. You never know whether you’ll make a new friend, business contact, or even meet the love of your life!
Just don’t be annoying by forcing conversation on someone who clearly isn’t interested. Ugh, so annoying!
Watch a movie or show
Tap into your plane’s entertainment system, which is likely well stocked with a variety of movies and tv shows both old and new.
On a recent 14 hour flight, I blew through a ton of movies I had meant to see, but hadn’t had the time to catch in the movie theater. It was a nice opportunity to kick back like a couch potato for a day.
What NOT to do on a long flight
So now that you have 11 great ideas on what to do with your time on a long haul flight without your laptop, Kindle or iPad, here are a few things you shouldn’t do.
Because sadly, I know some of y’all are tempted or have even done these things.
1. Don’t get drunk
Yes, lots of airlines offer free booze on flights. But that doesn’t mean you should get trashed to pass the time or help yourself pass out. Gross!
Alcohol causes dehydration, as can flying in general, so the combination of both is not good for your health and well-being.
And this should go without saying, but you’re probably not as funny or witty as you think when you’re buzzed, so you’ll probably just make a fool of yourself too.
2. Don’t groom or paint your nails
Just thinking of someone doing this on a plane makes me gag.
I always thought this was an unspoken rule, but clipping, filing or painting your nails on a plane is just plain gross.
Not only will your nail clippings be flying all over the place (like in your seatmate’s drink), but the nail polish will stink up the cabin.
3. Don’t hog the bathroom
This happened on a recent flight. I waited nearly 30 minutes to use the bathroom because the 2 nearby my seat were both taken up by people doing who knows what.
If you need to primp, either keep it super quick or do it in the terminal bathroom after you deplane.
What are your tips for things to do on a long flight?
Now it’s your turn! What are your favorite things to do on a long flight? Let me know in the comments below.