We’ve assembled a list of fun things to do on a long haul flight, no matter your age or interests. Long distance flights can be tough, especially if you don’t sleep well when you travel. All of the following ideas will have the time flying by during your flight and you may find something you wouldn’t have considered! Many of our ideas involve preparing in advance with downloads, activities and cool products, so don’t leave it too late to prepare.
Read on for 15 great things to do on a long haul flight to keep you entertained.
1. Plan what you want to do at your destination
If you’ve been busy at work before flying or booked your trip last minute and haven’t really researched the destination, your flight is the perfect time to devise the perfect holiday plan! We recommend doing research online a few days before you fly and writing down everywhere you want to go, also saving locations to Google Maps. On the plane, you can then create a more detailed itinerary with the attractions you have in mind, deciding which days to visit and combining places that are close together.
Sometimes, long-haul flights also have WiFi, so you’ll have the entirety of the internet at your disposal for researching the top things to check out. We recommend TripAdvisor as your first calling point for inspiration. Once you’ve decided on a loose or concrete plan, be sure to write everything down in a journal or one your phone/laptop/tablet so you don’t forget!
2. Watch a movie (or 5!)
This is one of our suggestions for things to do on a long haul flight that’s the most obvious, however it’s also one of the best! Long-haul in-flight entertainment is usually very good no matter the airline and you’ll get to see movies that aren’t yet released for home entertainment. Sit back, relax and watch the latest and greatest movies! Check your airline’s website to see what’s on for your travel dates.
If the plane you’re flying on doesn’t have personal entertainment screens or you’re not sure if they do, bring along your phone, laptop or tablet and download plenty of TV shows and movies before you fly. Each movie will consume a nice couple of hours of your flight time.
3. Have a nap (like a pro!)
Do you find it difficult to nap on a plane? We agree that it can be one of the most frustrating things about flying, especially when you’re tired but can’t seem to sleep. Follow these handy tips to help maximise your sleep-time on your flight:
- Use a pair of high-quality noise-cancelling headphones. The Sony 1000-MX3 are some of the best that money can buy and they’ll drown out the sound of the plane engines so you can get some shut-eye.
- Invest in a comfortable memory foam travel pillow and supports the full weight of your head. We personally recommend the FYLINA memory foam pillow. A quirky Trtl headrest is another great gadget that folds up and will help keep your head balanced when you nod off.
- Use an eye mask
- Avoid too many caffeinated drinks before and during your flight
- Get comfortable! That means taking off your shows, wearing some warm socks so your feet don’t get cold and wearing loose, comfortable clothing. A travel blanket is also a good shout if you get cold easily.
4. Play Nintendo switch
There’s no better portable games console that Nintendo’s Switch! Its large screen and dual controllers are great for a multiplayer game of Mario Kart mid-flight and you can even make friends with others passengers over a game if you’re flying alone. Just remember to mute the sound or use headphones: no-one likes to sleep whilst listening to the Mario theme tune. 😊
5. Catch up on some work/admin
With busy work schedules and lots of distractions on the ground, it can be tough to get admin work done. Whether it’s for your personal or work life, use the peace and quiet of an aeroplane to catch up on that last-minute presentation, finance spreadsheet, life admin or end of quarter report. Then you can enjoy your trip knowing that there’s less work to come back to! This tip isn’t for everyone as you may already be in holiday mode, but for those that like working whilst travelling, a plane is ideal!
6. Read a book
Nothing beats sliding your seat back, putting on your noise cancelling headphones and reading a new and exciting book that you bought before departing. Whether you prefer to read on a Kindle E-reader or a good old-fashioned paper-back, reading is both relaxing and can help you sleep.
If you’re not a fan of fiction novels, how about reading a travel guide for your destination, a language learning guide or self-help book?
7. Connect to in-flight WiFi
Long gone are the days where you soar off into the air and you’re disconnected from the outside world for a day. Many modern planes now have in-flight satellite Wi-Fi so you can connect your device and stream, Instagram, chat and research to your heart’s desire. Wi-Fi can be both free and paid-for depending on the airline so be sure to check their website in advance.
8. Learn the local language basics with Duolingo
After using Duolingo ourselves every day to learn Portuguese and Spanish, we 100% vouch for how great this language learning app is! It’s easy to start learning any language and has fun tasks and questions to help you memorise words and form sentences. Download Duolingo before jetting off and sign up to a free trial of their ‘Pro’ feature. It’ll give you access to offline play so you can use it in-flight without data or WiFi. You can then use the free version after your trip if you find that you like it and want to continue! Check it out here.
9. Get crafty
Unleash your creativity during your long-haul flight with all of these fun and simple craft activities.
- Colour-in intricate pictures with an adult colouring-in book. You can get advanced colouring books with plenty of cool themes! We personally like the Travel Therapy Colouring Book from Amazon.
- Crocheting or knitting is on the rise again and is no longer just for the elderly! Crotchet a cool pair or socks or finish off a gift for a family member. It’s fun, time consuming and the hours will fly by! Just make sure that the crocheting needles that you have are allowed on board the plane.
- Sketch/draw – Simply doodling on a notepad and using your imagination can be therapeutic. Switch on your music and sketch away.
10. Write a travel journal
If you’re a frequent traveller and already keep a journal or it sounds like something that might interest you, why not use your flight time to reminisce on your recent trip and write down all of your thoughts and highlights? It’s a great way to remember the tiny details of your days that you would have otherwise forgotten and your future self will thank you for the fond memories.
You can write your travel journal in any format you wish; however, we recommend updating it every day or at least at the end of your trip, whilst everything is fresh in your mind. We’re a fan of this cool travel journey on Amazon.
11. Organise and edit your travel photos
Save yourself a job when you get back home by bringing along your laptop and instantly uploading all of your travel pics from your phone and camera. It’s a tedious job to do with jet lag and can be a fun way to remember your trip on your return flight. Simply upload, review and organise your photos to folders, or use Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop to edit the pics and get them looking great. If you plan on uploading your photos to a blog or social media, the flight is the perfect place to get them ready!
Pass flight time by embracing the Buddhist monk within you and practice meditation. Meditation is becomingly an increasingly popular practice and all it takes is 20 minutes a day to start feeling more sombre, enlightened and self-aware. On a flight, it can help you feel very relaxed, get rid of those flying phobia’s and soothe you into a gentle sleep.
If you’re new to meditation or fancy giving it a try, we recommend downloading the Insight Timer app or listening to a meditation podcast on Spotify. They each teach you how to focus your body and let go of tension and it’s a great thing to try whilst passing time in the air. Just remember to download the app or podcast before you jet off. Did you know – many of the most successful athletes, movie stars, musicians, leaders and entrepreneurs meditate daily?
13. Stay active and stretch
Sitting down in the same place for 7+ hours can be awful for your body! Especially in those usually cramped airliner seats. Make sure you stay active during your flight with all of the following in-flight fitness tips. These active stretches are must-do things to do on a long haul flight for everyone.
- Move your feet and toes around in your seat every hour or so. Alternate with tensing and resting various muscles in your body. This keeps your circulation in motion and prevents blood clots.
- Every 2 or 3 hours, go for a walk to the bathroom or up and down the aisle. The clear space next to emergency exits is a great place to stretch and loosen up your body. Leg stretches, arm stretches and neck rolling are all good ways to reduce stiffness. Check out the YouTube video above for some simple plane exercises.
- Keep a good posture in your seat and don’t sleep at awkward angles. Lying your seat as far back as it can go and using a good quality travel pillow makes all the difference!
14. Play a board game
Bring along a crossword, Sudoku or puzzle book to challenge your brain! Alternatively, if digital gaming is more your style, download an offline play mobile game or make use of the games on your in-flight entertainment system on the back of the seat in front. Here’s a list of our favourite games to take on board a flight.
- OK Play by Big Potato
- Pass the Pigs
- UNO card game
- Backpacker – The Ultimate Travel Game
- Travel Monopoly
- Travel Pictionary
- The Dirty Word Search for Adults
15. Listen to music or a podcast
Another highly popular activity on our list of things to do on a long-haul flight, is of course, listening to your favourite music. We personally love to download plenty of playlists on Spotify before departing, featuring classic favourites, relaxing music for sleeping and some new tunes that we might like. Podcasts are another solid option and come in all varieties, from learning and self-help to football, chat shows and comedy sketches! Spotify Premium is our go-to platform for airplane music with their handy ‘download for offline play’ feature, however Apple Music, Amazon Music and the other big platforms all have similar features and content.
16. Pamper yourself
Any frequent traveller will tell you that staying healthy, fit and refreshed whilst on a flight is the key to reducing jet-lag and arriving in your destination ready to explore. Take note of all of the following health tips and spend your flight-time feeling good!
- Drink lots of water throughout your flight and avoid too many caffeinated or alcoholic drinks
- Head to the bathroom every couple of hours to rinse your face with water
- Apply face and hand moisturiser throughout the flight
- Eat healthy snacks such as fruit, nuts, yoghurt and avoid too many sweat treats that can give you the highs and lows of a sugar rush.
- Brush your teeth, freshen up with deodorant and do a quick outfit change before landing
That completes our list of things to do on a long haul flight. If you have any of your own tips and tricks that get you through your long journeys, be sure to comment below. We’d love to hear them! Being on a plane for a long time can feel tiring, exhausting and boring, but with perseverance and taking note of the above ideas, you’ll arrive at your destination feeling rested and productive.