Last week, Ken and I were supposed to have been on a vacation in the Canadian Rockies. After seeing photos of haze and smoke-covered mountains in that area from the Montana wildfires, we decided to cancel our trip a week before our departure.
Since we didn’t cancel our trip until relatively last minute, I already had on my mind the things I do to pass time on long flights. Our longest flight for this trip was scheduled to be just over four hours (Toronto to Calgary), but still, that’s plenty long when you don’t like the idea of being 30,000 feet in the air in a slim metal tube. I also can’t rely on sleeping on flights, unless if it’s a REALLY long flight. I’d say that for 90% of flights I take, I’m wide awake for the entire duration.
I thought I’d share with you my technique for passing time on long flights. It’s something I’ve used for about 10 years now, and I find it to be very helpful. It’s not rocket science, and it’s probably used by lots of other folks, but I’ll share it anyway.
Do you ever notice that when you have a heavily scheduled day that the time just seems to fly by? Well, I apply that principle to my time on a plane. I try to stay as busy as possible.
Basically, I “schedule” my time on the flight into various blocks of time. I find that, on an airplane, I don’t have an attention span for any one task for extended periods, so my blocks are fairly short. I know that some folks can, for example, play the same game on their phone for hours on end. I am definitely not like that. So, I mix it my plane activities..
Here’s an example of a “schedule” I had created for myself for one of our more recent long flights.
- Read book on my Kindle (40 minutes)
- Watch a TV show (on my iPhone or on the plane’s inflight entertainment system)
- Read magazines (40 minutes)
- Listen to one podcast
- Play two games of Scrabble on my iPhone
- Knit (45 minutes)
- Draft blog posts on laptop (45 minutes)
- Read book on my Kindle until landing
There you have it. Nothing fancy. For the tasks that have scheduled time durations, I just use the timer on my iPhone to alert me when it’s time to move onto the next task. And if I do happen to take a nap, or be on a flight that has meal service, I just pause the timer and resume my list when I’m awake from my nap or done with my meal. Sometimes I’ll “start” my task list before takeoff, other times I’ll wait until after takeoff. It’s all very flexible, and obviously just a starting point for ways to stay busy (and therefore make time go faster!) on long plane rides.
Other things I have on my list include:
- Color in coloring books (I only do this for trips that I pack really light, since coloring pencils take up a decent amount of space.)
- Work on a Logic Puzzle book. I LOVE logic puzzles, and take a book of puzzles with me on every trip. I usually block this as “do two logic puzzles in the magazine.” This would also work for things like crossword puzzles or word searches (both of which I’m terrible at, so I never do!)
- Watch a movie. I usually only watch movies on the longest of flights we take though.
Some of these things do take advance planning, such as making sure I have podcasts and TV shows pre-downloaded on my iPhone, or making sure I pack some of the magazines I get in the mail, and having books pre-downloaded to my Kindle. But, I have all those tasks on my pre-departure checklists, so I never forget to do them.
Here are some other tips from around the web on how to pass time on long flights:
- 10 Things You Can do to Keep Yourself Busy on an Airplane – Seattle’s Travels.
- 10 Best Things to do on a Plane to Pass the Time – Travel Chicks
- Long Flight? Here are 7 Ways to Pass the Time – Our Mini Family
What do you do to pass time on long flights?