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Entertainment in Midair: Amusing Yourself on Long Plane Trips

Updated on December 16, 2013


The first obvious option would be to sleep. It takes away a few hours (depending on your sleep pattern) and it’s a nice refresher if you had to get up a four in the morning to make your flight on time. I’ve tried to sleep on planes before, and it isn’t the easiest thing to do for those of us who have to be in just the right spot to get some shut eye. I suggest bringing a blanket and a pillow if you think it would help you.

Read/Listen to Books

The next thing people usually think to bring are books and audio books. If you happen to be interested in something slow, it may assist you in accomplishing the first option. However, there are times where I have found books I could not put down and they kept me entertained for hours. Maybe if you haven’t tried an audio book before, it may be a good time to try.


Watch Movies/Television

If you happen to have screen on the airplane, why not try to watch some T.V.? Or, if you’re more like me, you’ll bring along a portable DVD player or more likely now, just put a DVD into your laptop. It’s such a good way to spend a few hours, watching something YOU want, be it a cheesy 80s movie, a sci-fi thriller, or whatever floats your boat. Might even be a good time to rent a movie you’ve wanted to watch but no one else wants to.

Talk to People

Use your words and communicate with people. Depending on your confidence level with talking to total strangers, you could strike up a conversation with the person next to you. My brother actually talked to a couple who were the parents of the man who had invented the new Oreo packaging. Also, you don’t have to talk to complete strangers, you can obviously talk to traveling companions about things.


Play Cards

Speaking of talking to buddies, being on a plane may be a good time to play war, since that game can take a very long time. Or you could learn how to play Poker, Blackjack, or Euchre. But hey, who says you have to just play card games with playing cards? Why don’t you search up a magic trick that sounds cool to try, and you could test on your friend. Building a house of cards may not be the best idea on a plane because of possibly turbulence, but I suppose it’d be a good way to kill some time.

Play Games

If you happen to absolutely love board games, getting travel sized cases may not be a bad investment. Playing cards could also be in this category, as well as using your phone or tablet to play games on that. And there are some really old fashioned games like Animal, Vegetable, Mineral you could easily learn and play on a long plane ride. This category also counts Game boy systems and PSPs. You might pick up some old games you haven’t played in a while either and get re-addicted to them.

Cloud Watch

Look out the window and look above the clouds. Honestly, how often do you get to see the world from that perspective very often? Enjoy the view! You can stare out the window for HOURS (trust me, I’ve done it before) and be completely fine. I remember flying over a storm once, and it looked like a concert in the sky, and it was so cool to watch. In the daylight if you’re in the right spot, the clouds almost look like Antarctica. To sum it up, look outside.



Along with cloud watching, it’d be a good time to just let your mind wander. You may be the type to be more of a Walter Mitty and imagine yourself in exotic places, or you may just be imagining yourself on vacation. Either way, this is another simple way to keep yourself busy for long parts of a trip, and it can really be nice to not have to think about anything but what it’d be like to be able to have wings and fly, or just to be a star of a rock concert. Whatever your mind comes up with, let it go.


Provided Entertainment

Why not actually look at the safety manual for once? Just in case something goes wrong, you’ll know exactly what to do? (and it’s fun to look at the cheesy drawings). But if you’d rather shot yourself in the foot than do that, why not pick up Sky Mall in front of you and just browse through it. There was a Harry Potter section the last time I looked through it, which I found amusing. There was another time my Grammy and I looked through it together and either agreed or laughed at the items being advertised. If you really are the shopping type, go crazy.

Coloring Books

Your inner child wants to color again, and this would be a great time to do it. If you’re sitting next to your child, why not share in coloring in their Iron Man or Disney Princess coloring books? It’d be a good time to have some parental bonding time, and if you don’t have a child and just want to draw, go nuts! Go ahead and draw in that How to Train Your Dragon coloring book. Or if you want to be more artsy, get a coloring book that has more intricate pictures to color in, or even trace if you feel brave enough to do that. That’ll definitely take up a lot of time.


Along with the coloring book scenario, if coloring isn’t your thing, try doodling whatever your heart desires. Draw abstract designs, dragons, or unicorns, whatever suits your fancy. You could try practicing more than just stick figures and try faces. Horizon pictures are fun to draw, and they’re aren’t very difficult to do. (They’re just the pictures that seem like you’re looking down a street that’s shrinking in the distance). You might end up wanting to keep your doodles because you’re a better artist than you thought.


Arts and Crafts

Crocheting isn’t dangerous and is an art that many people do to spend their free time. If you’re not quite the crochet or knitting type, you might want to try making yarn bracelets, just make sure you get one of those octagonal foam pieces before you go on the plane though if you want to give it a go. You could make yourself something, or you could make it as gift out of the goodness of your heart (or your boredom, whichever way you would like to think about it).

Laptop Spring Clean

Since you have quite a bit of time on your hands, why not try and clear some of those files you never look at anymore on your laptop? Whether they be school papers you’re done with, or small memos you’ve already completed, go ahead and tidy up your space. And it doesn’t have to be documents, it can be old games that you’d installed but never play anymore (and know you won’t play anymore). I suppose you could also take this in the literal sense and clean your screen if it’s dirty. However you see fit to make your laptop better, go ahead and do it. You certainly have the time.

Listen to/Make Music

Next comes one of the most obvious ones, listen to your MP3 or IPod. It can be something quiet to make sure drift off, or some loud rock that’ll keep you awake. Music is always a good route to go when taking long plane trips because that and the combination of cloud watching have kept be occupied for nearly half the length of trips before. Also, you could explore Pandora on your phone and explore new stations you wouldn’t normally try, like video game stations, African music, or Bollywood. You could also stick some headphones in and try to make a piece of music on your own if you think you can do it.

Take Pictures

Phones are capable of a lot of things, calling, texting, playing games, among several things. Taking pictures is also one of them. I advise taking some pictures of outside the window if you have window seat because it is a cool picture to put on your Facebook or wherever else you want it placed. Granted, this one isn’t exactly the best for a plane ride, but it’ll keep you busy. Especially if you’re someone who tends to Snapchat or Instagram a lot.



I really like crosswords out of the above three, but some people like different things. Some people are more numbers minded and like to crunch those suckers in a sudoku, or some like the non-mentally taxing word searches (that wasn’t an insult, simplicity is really nice sometimes). And then there are word searches for those other crazy people like myself. There are also trivia games (which are good too for friendly competition), and you learn some interesting things while playing them.


Be it journal entry, short story, or poem, write something to pass the time. You could write about what you’re excited about for the vacation, you could make a short story about how your business meeting is going to go, or you could make a haiku about how much you hate or love flying. Writing can pass the time if you’re really into it, and it’s a nice, creative thing to do on a fairly dull plane ride.


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