How to Fight Flight Boredom and Stay Sane

A long international flight can often feel like a jail term if you’re not properly prepared.  Packing your small carry-on with lots of entertaining and relaxing gear can be a life-saver. Airlines no longer provide the amenities that travelers have come to expect over the years unless you are seated in premium class, so pamper yourself with the things that you most enjoy.  Limit your carry-on bag to only those items you need for the flight and potential travel interruptions such as medication, toiletries, etc.

Bring a laptop. Your computer can provide you with hours of entertainment from music, movies, TV shows, eBooks, and games, all downloaded in advance of departure. Flying is also a good time to write letters, memoirs, or business documents, as you are free of everyday distractions such as telephones and intrusions.

Man on airline flight working on a laptop

Watch the in-flight movies provided by the airline. Most international carriers offer a range of movies you can watch from a small LCD screen located right at your seat.  Check your airline’s movie offerings in advance at their website.

Bring an iPhone, iPad, or other smaller device if you don’t want the added weight of a laptop. These electronics can bring hours of entertainment.  The flight crew will advise you via public announcement when it is acceptable to use electronics. Bring your own noise-cancelling earphones to reduce the engine noise. 

A woman reading on her iphone on an airline

Drink plenty of water throughout the flight. Flying is very dehydrating, so be sure to bring a carry-on bottle of water, lip balm, and even saline nasal gel or spray. Remember, water bottles must be purchased after you’ve passed through security and all carry-on liquids must be less than 3oz.

Prepare for relaxation by bringing your own travel-size pillow, blanket, and eye shades. If your neighbor chooses to read the entire flight with their overhead light on or keep their window shade open, you will be grateful for the eye shades. Purchase inexpensive earplugs for the trip to allow a quiet, restful sleep. Keep a pair of socks handy to replace your shoes during the flight. Most airlines no longer provide these amenities to economy passengers, so pack accordingly.

Study up on your intended destination. A long international flight is the perfect time to read about the history, sights, culture or even learn the language of the country you plan to visit. Download free language courses onto your laptop, and you could be speaking like a local before you ever arrive.

A man and a woman on an airline flight looking at an Austrailian destination guide

If you are traveling with a companion you should find plenty to talk about, but if you are traveling alone, get to know one of your neighbors, if they seem willing. With a deck of cards, you could start a little friendly competition and make new friends. However, don’t chat away to someone who looks like they want to sleep, read or listen to music.

Bring plenty of reading material. Depending on the length of the flight, you may want to bring two books as well as a few of your favorite magazines.  Once read, pass them on to a fellow traveler or crew member to lighten your load and make room for souvenirs. Crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and word games are always good ways to pass the time. If you are traveling with kids, be sure to bring lots of fun activities such as Cranium’s Big Book of Outrageous Fun or even a travel Etch-a-Sketch.

A mother and child reading a book together on an airline flight

Pack some snacks. Bring along chewing gum, protein bars, nuts, or trail mix to keep you busy for awhile and stave off hunger pains between meal services. Some great uncrushable snacks are: canned chips, canned nuts, string cheese, individual boxes of cereal, and hard candy. Store softer items in a plastic container with a lid- such as candy bars, gum, protein bars, crackers, and sandwiches. For those who want a hot meal on board, consider bringing individual packets of oatmeal. Just ask the flight attendant for a cup of hot water!