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Best things for Keeping Yourself Entertained on Long Haul Flights

Updated on December 28, 2013

You've checked in, boarded your plane, taken off and have nothing but the next several hours of traveling ahead of you. Exciting isn't it? No? I agree. Though I am excited about the impending destination, those long hours on the plane can be painful if I get bored. Like a child, I need to be kept entertained to keep my sanity - and don't they say time flies when you are having fun?

With a few essential entertaining goodies in my hand luggage, I can keep myself amused, enjoy my flight and arrive at my destination relaxed, refreshed and ready to holiday!


Inflight Entertainment

Your first port of call for entertainment on a long haul flight. Most airlines that offer these long haul flights will offer you some seat back entertainment or monitors placed around the cabin. When flying with Virgin Atlantic, they have a guide in the seat back pocket, almost like a television guide which will show you what films are available, as well as TV shows, cartoons, documentaries, destination guides and audio channels. The films are generally up to date ones, having been released in the past 18months or so, so you are bound to find something you haven’t seen before.

Time Elapsed: anywhere from 30mins to 2hours per show/film you watch!



There’s nothing like drowning away the sounds of hundreds of other chattering, laughing, and screaming passengers (especially if you are sitting anywhere near some unruly young children!) A few days before your flight, load up your Mp3 player or iPod with your favorite music, maybe even invest in a few new albums or singles. Pop in your headphones, turn the volume up and close your eyes (You might also want to try wearing an eye mask). Make sure your seatbelt is fastened incase you fall asleep! Some airlines will provide some in-flight audio entertainment but you won't know what’s on offer till your on the plane, so it's best to be prepared. Make sure you have comfortable headphones of decent sound quality too. Just be sure not to turn it up too loud, your fellow passengers might not like your taste in music as much as you do!


For those of you with any kind of device with a little 'i' in front of it, you can log onto iTunes prior to your trip and download some podcasts. Podcasts are audio shows, usually centered around a singular theme. There are many available free and some shows can last as long as 2 hours, or come in a series of several shows each 2 hours or so long. Great ideas for what podcasts to choose include; destination guides for where you're going, shows centered around a favorite hobby or interest, or there are lecture series' if you fancy learning something new (maybe even the language of the destination you're traveling to?).


For those who find it a little too distracting to read on the plane, or fancy listening to the soothing voice of Stephen Fry for a few hours, why not invest in some audio books? (In fact just one or two would be enough for any long haul flight!). The great thing about audio books is you can sit back, relax and just listen, giving your eyes a break and allowing you a distraction from the hundreds of people around you. You can find yourself so relaxed and submerged in the novel that you may even forget you're on a plane. I always find time goes by quite quickly when listening to anything audio for some time on a flight. Just remember you may fall asleep and lose your place in the novel!

Time Elapsed: anywhere from 3 mins per song to a few hours with an audio book!





I love to get lost in a good book and one of my many 'holiday rituals' is to go out and purchase a shiny new book for the trip. Usually I will do this before I get to the airport as you tend to get over charged and most books can be found online for much cheaper (Amazon Marketplace etc). You could also pop down to your local library and check one out, just make sure you are home before it is due back and try not to leave it behind on the plane, beach, sun lounger or rental car. The book you choose for the flight should be something you are interested in, a favorite author or subject matter that you know you will enjoy, maybe even read up reviews online and check out sample pages. The last thing you want is to start reading it on the plane and find it's more of a put-downer than a page turner. It can also be difficult to get into a book you're just starting on the plane as they're such distracting places! Try starting it the night, or a few days before you fly, that way you are already well into it, enjoying it and eager to read on. Try not to pack a tomb-sized volume, as this will add to your hand luggage weight. (And if you need them, remember to pack your reading glasses!)


E-readers are wonderful devices for us bookworms. Why only pack one book or leave your favorite doorstopper at home? Most e-readers can hold several copies of War and Peace and still have room for more. The great thing about e-readers is that if you begin to tire of one novel, you can switch to another without having to carry the heavy load, with most e-readers smaller and lighter than a 20page quick read. Load it up before you travel and make sure it is fully charged too, most e-readers will give you 8,000+ page turns if you have them on the most power saving settings and do not constantly turn it on and off!

Magazines / Newspapers

Another 'holiday ritual' of mine is to raid the newsagents in the airport and pick up a few magazines (look out for ones with freebies such as beach bags, books or sample sized toiletries). I do not tend to buy magazines regularly so it is a little holiday treat. Ones like; Love it, Pick me Up, Woman’s Weekly etc are great for some lighthearted fluff reading, or head over to the interest section and pick up something you are keen on. I'm not a huge fan of newspapers on planes, they can be noisy, large and messy - but they're great if you've got to wait around in the airport for a few hours before your flight.

Time Elapsed: anywhere from 20mins to 1hour depending how engrossed you are!





I do not think I would have survived any long haul flight if it were not for my Nintendo DS. It is small, light, easy to carry, and the cartridges are so small I can take several with me inside the DS's carry case. The same can be said for other handheld devices, such as the PSP etc. If you're into gaming that is, but there is something for everyone. I prefer games, which are designed to have a few hours game play, especially anything in the Pokémon series. Games like that allow you to revisit areas, and to fully complete a game in the series would take a very long time. They are games for escapism, and when more so do you want to escape than when packed into a plane? Also, puzzle games, arcade style games, etc are great time munchers. You can also get multiplayer games, such as Mario Kart, so if others in you're group have it, you can compete together. There are also educational games available for these consoles, great if you want to learn or practice the language of your destination.

Be sure to fully charge your consoles before you leave, as most run in Li-on batteries now, you can pick up spares ones to fully charge but just one Li-on in a DS on the most power saving options will run for about 16 hours.

Card and Travel Games

With the seat back trays pulled down and a few card games in mind, you can get through quite a few hours playing card games with your traveling companions, of playing games such as solitaire of pyramids by yourself. A deck of cards is cheap is and small enough to take up no room in your hand luggage.

Travel sized games such as Monopoly, Scrabble, Cluedo, and Guess Who are all time classics, great if you are traveling with kids. Just try not to lose all the pieces! Games with a magnetic board and storage drawers in the game board are a good idea.

Phone Apps

There are some highly addictive games available on the app store for you to download (free and paid) that will keep you entertained on the flight. Just keep and eye on your battery! You don't want to get to your destination and find you're phone flat and you need to make a call! Set your phone to the most power saving settings and once you are battery hits about 30-40% turn it off. Remember to have your phone set to aeroplane mode before you board!

Time Elapsed: 1 hour+ depending on how much your enjoying the game!


Pen and Paper

Nothing like a classic notepad and a pen to keep you amused. Doodling, making an itinerary (or going over one you've already made), writing to-do lists, gift lists, playing noughts and crosses, working on your novel, even a live review of your trip. Pen and paper is always handy to have at hand, even just dumping all of your thoughts down onto the paper can help to relax you, even help you sleep.

You could also print out articles (like this one!) or reviews / destination tips etc, and paste them into the notebook, making notes as you read them on the flight.

Entertaining Toddlers!

Don't forget...

To keep up to date with my writings and goings on, check out my blog


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    • mquee profile image


      7 years ago from Columbia, SC

      A lot of very good suggestions and ideas for travelers. There was a time when flying was a restful, if not peaceful experience. Now with all of the security precautions which causes people to have to hurry to get to a changeover flight, it takes awhile to get the stress level down. Very good hub.


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