Traveling is undoubtedly fun, but sitting for 10+ hours in a cramped seat in a plane is probably the least fun of it all. When I flew from Los Angeles to Sydney at the beginning of my study abroad journey, I had to endure a 15-hour direct flight that really made me question the act of sitting still. About five hours in, I looked at my watch and made the mistake of thinking that time was going by pretty quick, and I only had two times of what I had done left to go. It didn’t seem that bad! But since I had already watched a few movies, eaten food and taken a nap, the next few hours were pitifully dreadful. With a little creativity, however, there are a fair number of things you can do on a plane that will help make time fly while you do.
Make Origami – out of anything
While airlines don’t necessarily provide you with much more than the basic essentials, they’re all you’ll need to have a little fun. A napkin is perfect for Origami since it’s already in the shape of a square, but if you’re looking for firmer material to hold your masterpiece, why not use a section of the paper barf-bag tucked into the back of the seat in front of you. If you don’t get “air-sick,” then use it for a more enjoyable, and hygienic, purpose.
Practice the language/slang of your destination
If you’re going to a country that speaks a language other than English, and you’re not necessarily fluent in that language, then it’s probably in your best interest to learn a few handy phrases while you eagerly await your destination. Bring a travel book with you, listen to a podcast, or better yet, see if the person next to you knows the language and is willing to talk to you. Most people don’t like being disturbed on a flight – and an eye mask and earphones definitely suggests that you shouldn’t poke them awake – but there are many others who enjoy making a new friend on a long flight and welcome any attempt at conversation. Similarly, if the people of your destination do speak English, then try learning some of the slang before you get there. If there’s anything I can tell you about Australian English, it’s that the amount of slang it contains will make you wonder if it really is a language of its own!
Binge-watch the longest T.V. series you can find
It’s almost too easy of an option to watch a show from start to finish. Where else are you going to find yourself with hours upon hours of free time actually wishing that you had a binge-worthy show to occupy all your time? Whether you choose to re-watch one of your favorite shows or catch up on what’s trending, make sure your laptop is stocked up with every episode of every season before you get on the plane. You’ll thank yourself later when you realize your flight has a sad excuse for a movie lineup. Just remember, the longer the series, the better. And more than one is highly preferable.
Keep your head in the clouds
If there’s anything that we students lack the most of, it’s sleep (though money comes in at a close second). Use those boring hours of a long flight as a good excuse to do nothing but catch up on some z’s. Where else can you truthfully say that you don’t have any responsibilities? Your electronic devices are pretty much useless without a network connection, and given your location, you obviously can’t attend to matters on the ground, such as worrying about the Snaps you received or frantically refreshing bCourses for your final grade. Sleeping comfortably, however, is another issue, but sometimes we’ve just got to take what we can get.
Get lost in a story
The older we become, the less time we seem to spend reading a good book. Unless we’re a truly avid reader, or an English major, there aren’t as many moments in our busy lives where we get some spare time to read and relax. Plus, whenever I actually do want to read, my brain starts guilt-tripping me into using my time more “productively” – especially if I should be doing my class readings that I’m so very far behind on. Use the time on a flight to enjoy reading a book you’ve been meaning to get around to for a while. And why not ask one of the cabin crew members for some warm tea to really get into the relaxing mood? With so much time available to you, you’ll probably finish the book in one sitting. Literally.
Long flights over at least 10 hours are inherently boring, uncomfortable and probably one of the least fun parts of traveling. But with a bit of creativity and willpower, you can turn them into a more rewarding experience than you would’ve otherwise had to endure. If all else fails, sit tight, hang in there and think about how amazing your adventures will be once you land.