30+ Things To Do on a Plane – On-the-Go Amusements

Last Updated: May 9th, 2024

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If you’ve got a long-haul flight ahead of you, you’ll need to plan a few plane activities to keep you entertained. The good news is there are actually plenty of things to do on a plane if you’re creative (and prepared). As a frequent flier, I’ve often wondered what to do on a plane and always found the following activities super helpful in making the time fly.

The 30+ Things To Do on a Plane

1. Read

A-Woman-Reading-A-Book-In-A-Flight
A good book will help the time on any flight pass.

It goes without saying that reading is one of the best ways to pass the time on a long flight. I personally don’t love reading while flying because I get motion sickness, but I’ll always have a book with me to read in the airport, or while the plane is still on the tarmac.

If motion sickness isn’t an issue for you, there’s no better way to make time zoom past than with a good book. A Kindle e-reader is a great option if you don’t have the space for a physical book, or if you want to bring multiple titles.

2. Listen to an audio book

Audio books are nature’s solution for those who, like me, want to get absorbed in a good story but are prone to motion sickness. You’ll only need internet access at the time of downloading onto your device, and then you’re free to listen to your favorite stories as you soar out of range. Audible is my favorite service for audio books, and if you’re a frequent flier, the membership plans are definitely worth it.

3. Listen to a podcast

Along the same lines, you can listen to a podcast to pass the time on your flight. There are several streaming services you can use for this, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and YouTube Music. If your flight has Wi-Fi, you can just stream your favorites as normal.

You can also download podcasts off Spotify to listen to without Wi-Fi access with a Spotify Premium membership, and you can do the same as a YouTube Music Premium member. Meanwhile, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts allow you to download your podcasts ahead of time.

4. Watch a movie or TV show

A-Woman-Watching-Tv-In-Plane
Many flights have great in-flight entertainment options already.

Binge-watching your favorite movies or TV shows is a great way to get through a long flight. Most international airlines offer in-flight entertainment, so you won’t even have to bring a device with you. But you can also watch via your own phone, tablet, or laptop through streaming services that allow you download movies and TV shows for offline access.

My go-to is watching The Simpsons on Disney+, but Netflix, Paramount+, and Prime Video all offer the same service.

5. Listen to music

Flying can really drain your energy, sometimes to the point where you can’t even focus enough to follow the plot of a movie. Music playlists are essential for those flights, and a good pair of noise-canceling headphones will make the experience much more powerful.

You can download music off Spotify with a Premium membership, or you can download songs off Apple Music. However, most in-flight entertainment services already offer great music to listen to.

6. Do a meditation

If you’re a nervous flier, there’s a bit of turbulence, or you’re just feeling stressed, meditation can be a lifesaver. The basic idea is to quiet your mind.

If you’re new to meditating, my favorite process is simply closing your eyes and counting your breaths. Whenever your mind strays from counting your breaths, start back at number one. You’ll be surprised at how long it takes you to successfully count to 10 without your mind jumping to other thoughts, and you’ll likely feel a lot calmer.

7. Repeat affirmations

Along the same lines, a long-haul flight (or even a short one) is a great opportunity to practice some affirmations, which can help you to overcome negative thoughts and improve your mood (via PsychCentral).

Choose an affirmation that resonates with you and repeat it for periods of six minutes, whenever you feel bored. Something like “I’m safe and well” might be great for a nervous flier.

8. Make a new friend

The-Passengers-And-A-Crew-Member-On-The-Plane
You’ll never know who you might meet on your flight!

If you happen to be sitting next to a stranger on your flight, it could be an opportunity to make a new friend. Of course, not everyone wants to chat, but there’s a chance that you’ll meet someone who’s like-minded since you’re traveling to the same destination.

Solo traveling can be lonely if you don’t reach out to people, so this is an especially great thing to do if you’re on your own. And in my experience, people are 100% friendlier when you’re a solo traveler!

9. Get to know your travel buddy

A long flight can also serve up a chance to get to know the person you’re traveling with a little better. What better place to have a deep and meaningful conversation than a metal tube 30,000 feet in the air that none of you can leave?

Think of some questions that will help you learn more about them, or if you already know them, share old memories and rekindle the bond. You’ve got the time!

10. Do a puzzle

It’s easy to feel sluggish on a long flight, but a traditional puzzle can keep the brain active. There are endless options on Amazon, from word puzzles, to old favorites like chess, checkers, and tic tac toe. Of course, if you don’t have the luggage space, you could also load up your device with some mind games.

11. Write in a travel journal

A-Woman-Writing-A-Diary In-A-Plane
If you have a thought, write it down.

You can definitely start your travel journal before you arrive at your destination. Chronicle how the journey to the airport was, how the flight has been so far, and what you’re looking forward to when you land.

12. Write a postcard

Spread a little love with an old-fashioned postcard. Pick one up from the airport and fill it out on the plane–just be sure to put it in a safe place until you can send it. Most people would probably prefer to receive a postcard from the actual destination rather than the flight to or from there, but they’ll be none the wiser.

13. Sketch your surroundings

Get those creative juices flowing with some artistic sketching. All you’ll need to bring is some pen and paper, and simply recreate a scene that you see around you. It could be of the plane itself or even of someone sitting near you (just maybe make sure they don’t see you drawing them!). Even if you have zero artistic talent, it’s a fun way to pass the time and use a different part of your brain.

14. Plan your trip

Use the time you have on your flight to organize the trip ahead of you. This is particularly easy if you have internet access, but even if you don’t, you can take the information you have already and create schedules, itineraries, and plans.

15. Plan your year

Already planned your trip down to the final detail? Then plan something else. You’ll still have a life ahead of you after this vacation or business trip, so plan out/organize some of that. Are there holidays you want to take off later in the year? Do you have goals you want to reach at work? New hobbies you want to start? You have the time, so work on a solid plan to help you succeed at whatever you want to do.

16. Look at your photos

A-Flight-Passenger-Looking-At-Phone

This is a particularly good activity when you’re on the flight back home. Look over all your photos and do a little editing. Get rid of the duds, and heart your favorites that you might want to add to a photo book later or post to social media.

If nothing else, just sit back and reminisce about the amazing trip you’ve just had. If you’re on the way to your destination, you can do the same with the camera roll you’ve built up over the past few months.

17. Make a reel

If you have a lot of videos on your phone–which you probably will if you’re headed back from vacation–put them together into a reel. You can do this on Instagram or with several video editing apps, including InShot, FilmoraGo, and CapCut, if you have internet access.

18. Play phone games

Other than a long-haul flight, when are you going to get the chance to just play games on your phone without feeling guilty? It’s the perfect opportunity to get your gaming fix, so take the time before you head to the airport to download a bunch of games that will keep you entertained.

There are plenty out there these days that require no internet access, including FruitNinja, Minecraft, and old faithful, Temple Run. If you’re traveling on an international airline, they’re likely to have games as part of their in-flight entertainment options, so you won’t have to worry about bringing any with you. Singapore Airlines have a particularly good list of games to choose from.

19. Mindful coloring

Coloring is a wonderful way to be more mindful, as it encourages you to focus on the task at hand rather than on worrying about the past or future (via Mayo Clinic). Just bring a coloring book and a few pencils with you and whip them out when your brain feels the need for some calming concentration.

While you could just pick up a kid’s coloring book for the same result, there are lots of great options for adults now, many of them available on Amazon. I brought this Harry Styles coloring book with me on my last long flight and don’t regret a thing.

20. Drink water

I know, drinking water sounds like the most boring suggestion of all time. But the truth is staying hydrated on your flight will help you to avoid feeling sick, and help you arrive at your destination fresh as a daisy.

Setting yourself drinking (water!) goals during your flight will help you to stay hydrated while also giving you something to work towards. Yes, this activity would probably be approved by the fun police, but you’ll thank me when you get off the flight and your lips aren’t peeling.

21. People-watch

Passenger-Sitting-Inside-Airplane

If you’ve exhausted all your entertainment options, just try simply sitting and watching those around you. Obviously you don’t want to blatantly ogle anybody or stare at them until they’re uncomfortable, but just subtly people-watching can spark your curiosity and imagination.

22. Prepare your body clock

Another less-than-exciting but useful thing to do on the plane is start to synch your body clock. If you’re flying to another time zone (as an Australian traveler, this is so relevant), one of the best ways to prevent jet lag is to get on your new time as soon as possible.

Set your watch or phone to the time of your destination and act accordingly. If it’s night time, try to sleep. If it’s dinner time, grab a snack. The sooner your body gets into the new rhythm, the easier it will be to adjust when you actually arrive on the other side of the world.

23. Catch up on study

Since you’ve got the spare time, you might as well put it to good use and study. If you’re a student, gather your materials on your device ahead of time and catch up on your readings or assignments.

But if you’re not a student, it’s still a good opportunity to learn something new. Download an educational book onto your Kindle or download a learning app. Those like Skillshare and MasterClass will require a membership or one-off purchase, but you can access the content offline for a productive flight.

24. Keep up with work

A-Person-Working-On-Laptop-In-Flight

By the same logic, the spare time you have on a long-haul flight is an opportunity to keep up with work. Maybe you have a project you could be chipping away at, or a presentation you could be rehearsing.

If you have internet access, you could respond to emails or simply get on with your usual work tasks. Teachers–a flight is a great time to catch up on your marking!

25. Write a souvenir list

If you’re on your way to your destination, you could allocate some time to write a souvenir list. As in, write down who you need to buy souvenirs for and where you might like to buy them.

You might be the type of person who doesn’t bother with souvenirs, and if so, all the power to you. But if you’re like me, and gift-giving is your love language, planning souvenirs in advance can be really helpful. Otherwise, if you’re something of an impulse buyer, you might lose control when you hit those shops and buy way too much.

26. Learn a language

I’m a firm believer in learning at least some of the language of the destination you’re traveling to. No one expects you to become fluent, but it’s just a sign of respect for someone else’s culture to take the time to learn a few words and phrases.

Plus, I’ve always found that if you can speak at least a little of the local language, locals are much friendlier. This was blatantly obvious in Spain, Greece, and France.

To this end, I’m a huge fan of Duolingo, which you can use offline, and the basic version is totally free. But even if you’re not traveling to a non-English-speaking country, learning a language improves your brain function, boosts creativity, and helps you to understand your native tongue better (via University of the Potomac).

27. Stretch your body

The-Passengers-In-Economy-Class-Of-Flight
Get up whenever you can during your flight and stretch!

It’s really important to move around on a long-haul flight. Stretching can prevent aching muscles, reduce the chance of blood clots, and will likely just make you feel fresh (or as fresh as it’s possible to be on a long flight), per Simple Flying.

If nothing else, try to remember to routinely get up and walk around the cabin to stretch your legs, but you can also do a bunch of subtle stretches in your seat. Bend your knees, stretch your arms to the ceiling, touch your toes, lift your legs, and flex your wrists.

28. Pamper yourself with skincare

It’s amazing how much pampering skincare can improve your mood when you’re on a long, seemingly never-ending flight. Obviously due to international travel restrictions you’re limited as to what products you can bring, but there are a few good ways to sneak in some skincare.

Sheet masks are a brilliant source of hydration, and many are packed with power ingredients that your skin will love. There are infinite options to choose from at Sephora, and they easily slip into your carry-on without taking up much weight or space.

Also be sure to bring along a hydrating lip balm, an eye cream, and an invigorating facial mist, and routinely apply them throughout your flight.

29. Duty-free shopping

A-Flight-Passenger-Looking-At-Tv-Screen

Some airlines offer duty-free shopping as part of their in-flight entertainment service. Even if you’re not in the mood to buy anything, it’s entertaining just to browse, which I did with KrisShop on my last Singapore Airlines flight.

But if you are in the mood to spend, you can save quite a bit with duty-free shopping. And of course, if you have internet access, regular online shopping is another way to pass the time. Just be sure to keep a few pennies to spend on your trip!

30. Write using creative prompts

Creative exercises will help your brain to stay stimulated throughout the flight, and if you’re not a visual person, you might like to try your hand at a writing exercise. Try writing a story, letting your imagination run wild with any characters, settings, and plots that come to you.

If you’re brand new to writing, try a creative prompt. Reedsy has hundreds of them! Reading is a great way to escape the real world you’re in, but writing a story set somewhere else is 100 times more powerful.

31. Clean up your inbox

Daily life is so busy that you probably rarely get a chance to stay on top of life admin, like cleaning up your inbox. If you have internet access, go through your emails and delete or archive anything that is just taking up space. You can do the same with your text messages and voicemails. Give your phone a total revamp!

32. Empty phone storage

Freeing up space on your phone is also a very useful way to pass the time on a long-haul flight. Go through your phone and delete any apps that you no longer use. You can also use this time to reorganize your apps into the correct groups and categories so you don’t have loose individual apps on your phone.

33. Have fun with hands-on crafts

If you’re a hands-on person, prepare for a long-haul flight by bringing a few crafts. Paper is a great one if you know how to do origami. There are lots of origami kits and instruction books for adults available on Amazon.

Knitting can also be a good choice as long as you get TSA-approved knitting needles. Just keep in mind that you won’t be able to bring scissors onto your flight.

34. Surf the web (if you have Wi-Fi)

We live in a world where most people would have no trouble surfing the web for hours. If you have Wi-Fi on your flight, you could get lost online. Fall down the Google rabbit hole, visit Reddit and TikTok, scroll through Instagram, read the Wikipedia entries for your favorite celebrities, or better yet, even do some research on the destination you’ll be visiting.

35. Eat

A-Person-Eating-Noodles-In-A-Airplane
They don’t look like much, but after a 13-hour flight, these noodles hit the spot.

Seriously, is there a better way to pass the time? On a long-haul flight, meal times are often the highlight of the experience. Even though plane food is rarely anything to write home about, getting to eat when you’ve been bored for so long is always a win.

Bring plenty of snacks with you, or meals if you have a sensitive stomach/the airline charges extra for the in-flight menu. Like your drinking water, try to plan to eat your food strategically so you have moments to look forward to during the flight.

36. Write a travel bucket list

If you’re a travel-lover, then you need a travel bucket list. Life gets so busy that you might not have time ordinarily to sit down and list all the places you’d like to visit, so do it on your flight.

List every single city and country that you’d like to see one day, even if you have no money to get there right now. Even if you can’t see yourself going there for another 20 years, write down every place that even mildly piques your interest. A travel bucket list will keep you inspired to work, save, and see the world while you can.

37. Sleep

The-Extra-Legroom-In-Flight
If you can, paying for extra legroom is also a great way to increase your chances of getting a good sleep!

Getting enough sleep is the number-one way to feel good when you arrive at your destination. It can be really hard sleeping on a plane, but I’ve found a few things really help when trying to fall asleep in economy.

An eye mask and noise-canceling headphones or Airpods are a god-send, as is sitting near the window–it’s hard to fall asleep when you have people constantly knocking your feet or climbing over you. It also helps to be as tired as possible when you get on your flight.

On my last flight to London, which was 13 hours from Singapore, I had a 10-hour layover at the Changi airport. During those 10 hours, I just kept walking. I stopped for 10 minutes here and there, to eat or to get a quick massage, but I moved as much as I could. By the time I got to my flight, I was so exhausted that I fell asleep during take-off and slept for eight hours.

Bring your sensory tools, plan ahead with a good seat, and spend as much energy as possible before you get on the flight, and you might find that you sleep like a baby.

About The Author

Vanessa is an Australian-based freelance writer and editor with a BA in Creative Writing. She’s passionate about creating travel content that inspires her readers to take a leap of faith and power through their bucket lists. When she’s not writing (with her border collie asleep at her feet), she’s devouring books, exploring the world, or planning her next trip.

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Picture of Vanessa Elle

Vanessa Elle

Vanessa is an Australian-based freelance writer and editor with a BA in Creative Writing. She’s passionate about creating travel content that inspires her readers to take a leap of faith and power through their bucket lists.

When she’s not writing (with her border collie asleep at her feet), she’s devouring books, exploring the world, or planning her next trip.

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