What to do on long-haul flights?

Imagine that you don’t get the chance to grab the window seat on an 8 hour flight. You can’t contemplate the amazing view while comfortably listening to music and allowing the thoughts on your mind float past you, much like the clouds outside. Instead, you get to sit between two strangers for the next few hours. For some of you, the answer to this problem is a simple one: sleep. But for others, like us, it’s rarely an option – either the seat is too uncomfortable or the plane motors are just too loud to be able to doze off. Thankfully, there’s a million things you can do, other than sleeping.

1. Review your trip plans

If you like planning trips ahead, take the time to trace your next steps once you land on your destination or once you drop off your luggage at the place where you’re staying. If you didn’t even have the time to take a peek at the main attractions, this is also a good chance to take that travel guide off your bag or do a bit of research on the topic (for those lucky few with in-flight internet connections).

2. Adult colouring books

Mindfulness is the “it” word nowadays – although you won’t get into the habit of cultivating intention inside a plane, at least you can explore this with pretty colors. This is also a useful tool if you tend to be nervous during flights, and will surely calm you down a bit. (tip: some of the podcasts I listen to explore mindfulness a bit – more on this below.)

3. Movie marathon

Thankfully we live in an age where a laptop or a tablet has enough battery to endure three to four hours of movie watching. If you have to take a connection flight, take the chance to juice it up at the airport – you’ll be thankful for it later! In any case, if you forget to do so, long-haul planes tend to have quite a good choice of entertainment options to offer and you will surely find something that suits you.

4. Listen to music or grow with podcasts

Exploring new artists and musical styles is always a good option, although it might not work out too well if you find out you actually didn’t like that new album as much as you thought you would.

I (P) recently started listening to a couple of interview-based podcasts on entrepreneurship and self-improvement. They can give you an insight into different ways of thinking on relevant topics, while being entertaining and engaging at the same time. The ones I have been listening to lately (and strongly recommend!) are Jess Lively’s The Lively Show, The One You Feed by Eric Zimmer and Chris Forbes, and John Lee Dumas’ Entrepreneur on Fire, although there is a very large world of many other podcasts that might be more relevant to you.

5. Brush up your foreign languages

Learning a foreign language is never easy – it takes time, a lot of effort and dedication. But, it doesn’t take that much effort to be able to say “thank you” or some sentences in the language of the country you are travelling to. If you do this, soon you will  realize that people get the tendency of viewing you in a different perspective once they realize you actually put the effort into learning something so alien to you. Chances are you will actually fall in love with the language and end up wanting to learn even more!

6. Read a book (or if you’re lazy, turn to audiobooks)

When reading books, if you find the airplane lights to be hard on your eyes, or if you tend to lose focus quickly, audiobooks are always a good option aswell. Of course, this means you will need a charged battery that won’t die on you (tip: get a battery pack!) – fortunately paperbound books don’t have this problem.

7. Start a journal of your trip

What are your expectations? What’s your view of the country you are going to visit? Writing on these topics (and doing some scrapbooking to keep mementos) prior to visiting a country can be an eye-opener once you finish your trip and start reading your journal. Take this chance away from home to reflect on topics that are relevant to you and might make you grow a little more as an individual. You’ll be surprised.

8. Strike a conversation

If you’ve done all of the above and are still bored, try striking a conversation with the person sitting next to you. The first time I (P) went to Japan on a flight from Beijing to Osaka, I was able to meet a nice Chinese lady that happened to work in Japan. In all truth, I wasn’t the one to begin the conversation but, in the end, I was actually grateful she had taken the first step and made those last few hours of flying a little more bearable. Sadly, we ended up not exchanging our contact information when we parted at the airport. Somehow, it’s that awkward feeling of (possibly) never see that stranger again that makes these kind of experiences memorable – sometimes I still wonder how she’s doing.



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