There are two ways you can anticipate a long haul flight. You can spend the time before your flight dreading the many hours you are about to spend sitting in a very small seat, surrounded by strangers, with little elbow or leg room—or you can think of it as a mini-retreat. Time to do nothing except focus on yourself with few interruptions.
If you are like some of us, you’ll bring along that great novel you’ve been dying to read and treat yourself to the uninterrupted binge-read that can only happen on a long flight. However, for others, reading can only entertain for so long before the mind stops being able to absorb and comprehend. So besides burying yourself in a bestseller, what are some other things to do on a long haul flight to ensure that you don’t get (flight) cabin fever?
At home you might feel guilty about being unproductive while you spend hours binge-watching Game of Thrones when you know you should be at the gym or cleaning the garage, or accomplishing something, but those feelings can be thrown right out of your little oval airplane window on a long haul flight. Instead of feeling guilty, allow yourself to indulge. After all, keeping yourself happily entertained on a long flight IS an accomplishment in itself. This is the time to bring along an iPad or Tablet and have as many episodes of your latest binge-watch downloaded as your device will hold. That and some great wireless earbuds can make or break your flight.
You can also play totally guilt-free video games if that’s something you enjoy. Podcasts are also great for hours of long haul listening.
In-Seat Stretches and the Torso Twist
While it can be very hard to keep your circulation at an optimal level while trapped in a tiny airplane seat, there are some simple things you can do to help keep your blood moving without making unnecessary trips to those tiny, uncomfortable airplane bathrooms. Whenever your seatmate leaves to go to the restroom, take the opportunity to stand up and stretch.
Even while seated you can do many small stretches that can make a surprising difference in how you feel. Neck rolls are simple and can prevent a stiff neck, backache, and headaches. Slowly twist your neck from side to side, and then up and down in yes and no motions.
You can also stretch your torso by holding onto an armrest with both hands and then twisting your torso in that direction until you feel your muscles gently pulling. Then repeat in the other direction.
Finally, lift one leg at a time slightly off the seat and roll your ankles one at a time in both directions.
In-Flight Phone Housekeeping
The long hours of a lengthy flight provide the perfect time to cleanup and organize your phone. Go through your contacts and delete the ones you no longer need. You can delete pictures that you don’t need to have taking up storage space on your phone and delete games you’ve played out to death and apps you never use. All of those pesky little clean-ups you’d been promising yourself you’d get to, but are always putting off until later because there are better things to do. On a long flight, you likely don’t have better things to do.
Adult Coloring Books
It’s always a good idea to bring along something to keep your brain busy or take a break from your book or binge-watch and mix it up a little. Adult coloring books can be both soothing, relaxing, and fun. Crossword puzzle and sudoku are also great to have in your carry on during a flight. These are good to have around for when you are directed to turn off devices, or when the wifi is down.
Plan a Nap
A long flight is also a great excuse to indulge in a lengthy nap. Wear loose-fitting comfortable clothing and bring a neck pillow to support your head and neck so you won’t wake up with a stiff neck, or wake up to find your head on the shoulder of the stranger seated next to you.
Earplugs can be really critical for enjoying an in-flight nap, and if you are someone who has trouble sleeping off your usual schedule, bring along some melatonin. One 3 to 5 mg melatonin is just enough to help you fall asleep without making you sleep for too long or wake up groggy.
Learn a Language
If this is something you’ve always wanted to do, but never have time for, this is the time. Download an app such as Babbel, Lingualift, or Duolingo. You’d be surprised how much you can learn during one long-haul flight, and if you are a frequent flyer you can soon become fluent! And then you can plan your next long flight to be to the country of origin of your new language.
Meet Someone New
If you are the type that goes stir-crazy with alone time, you can always feel out your seat mates to see if there is someone you’d like to get to know and then strike up a conversation. Keep it light and pleasant, and be sure to use proper plane etiquette by watching them for cues that will let you know if they are open to a chat, or would prefer to be left to their own devices (literally and figuratively).
It’s also a great idea to pack plenty of snacks for a long flight. It’s best to have healthy snacks with low salt content to prevent water retention, which is more likely to occur at high altitudes. This is also a good time to bring along at least one indulgent treat like some good chocolate. Just as your limited screen time rules can go out the window and into the clouds during a long haul flight, so can your careful dietary rules. After all, keeping yourself entertained and content during a long flight is the perfect excuse for some self-care, and that includes allowing yourself a treat to help pass the time.
One of the coolest things to do on a flight is to bring along an origami book. These typically come with directions and decorative paper. You can keep both your hands and your brain busy making pretty paper birds and flowers, and then give them to any fussy children on the flight to keep them happy as well! It’s a win-win!