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Ways to entertain yourself on really long plane trips 2024

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As someone who has made the long-haul flight between the United States and Australia a number of times now, I'm getting pretty good at them. While you got to see some incredible sights at the other end (Tasmania, you glorious place) you also have to endure being on a plane for around 40 hours which I can't imagine anyone liking.

This list is by no means guaranteeing that you won't be bored. In fact, the one thing I guarantee is that you will be bored at some point, but this will at least make that a little less.

Also, I've written some top tips for avoiding and getting through jet lag quicker, you can find those here.

Sleep on the plane for the duration of the flight

I mean this one seems obvious, but it's a good one if you can pull it off.

My girlfriend, Stacey, manages to find ways to get to sleep that I didn't think possible, but for me, it's all about finding those 45-minute power naps when you can.

Timing them to be at night time at your destination is key. Don't just go napping all flight or you'll be hit hard in the face with jet lag at the other end.

Headspace is an awesome app that helps with mindfulness/meditation. Now. Before you go “blerk meditation” (because that's me too) this isn't some crazy thing that's trying to sell you on your place in the world, it's just trying to chill you out and help you take a moment for yourself. It also has sleep and wind-down practices which are fantastic on planes. You can download them before you get on the plane.

I'm not a big fan of sleeping drugs for the groggy feeling so instead, I use Melatonin for a little assistance. Melatonin can be purchased at pharmacies over the country is something that helps me find my zen (I am not a doctor though, so this is not medical advice. You should talk to a doctor before using things like this).

Mobile Apps & Games for long flights

With most planes now offering USB ports right in front of your face, it's easy to use your phone for entire flights.

Here are some that I was playing that I can recommend:

  1. Sudoku – Get the “Brain Games” one, it's great for those just starting and for the pros.
  2. NYTimes Crossword – You can pre-download these and they're free with a membership to the Times which is good for reliable news
  3. 1010! – This app is simple, fill the board up, but it's addictive and fun for those bits on the flight where you don't want to commit to something bigger
  4. Alto's Odyssey – This game is simple but incredibly fun. You board down dunes and slopes doing flips to collect points. You're going to love it.
  5. Don't Starve – This game is HARD but rewarding. I just got it myself for these latest flights and didn't get far but liked trying. You're dropped in the game without any instruction and it relies on you tapping things to build things, then you'll start to find your feet!
  6. Game Dev Tycoon (or Rollercoaster Tycoon) – You're in charge of setting up a game development company. It sounds weird, but it's incredibly time-consuming and you'll find yourself stuck into it quickly (especially if you're a nerd like me).
  7. Broken Age – I didn't get too far into this but it's another puzzle-y one that has been fun for a few hours!
  8. Agent A – I love this game, it's a tap-to-find puzzle game that I think is one of the best around
  9. Blackbox – If you like being frustrated, play this one. It's my favorite app on iOS.

Just don't forget a USB cord in your hand luggage!

Movies & TV (Mobile) and how to watch them on a plane

If you have a Netflix and/or Hulu account, you can log in with your phone and pre-download the next episodes of the shows you're watching.

This will mean that you don't have to rely on inflight wifi (below) which most certainly won't stream your favorite show very effectively, and you don't have to rely on the random episodes available on the plane (seriously, the very first 3 episodes of Friends, and the very last episodes of Chernobyl, what were you thinking Delta!?)

WiFi onboard planes

Addicted to the internet like me? Well, in-flight WiFi is becoming more and more common.

T-Mobile for one provides some free internet to those flying on Delta flights, and it's worth doing your research before you fly about who the inflight WiFi is provided by as you might have a credit card that offers a deal (e.g. American Express Platinum offers free inflight WiFi with GoGo on many flights).

The quality is not going to be great so don't plan on streaming too much but it will get you by for those essential work items or to catch up on your social media cravings.

Noise-canceling headphones are the secret to flying

These are worth the investment.

I personally have the Bose QuietComfort 35s (Amazon affiliate link because that's how I pay the bills).

They are not cheap, but boy oh boy do they make flying easier. They can be plugged into the inflight movies and TV as well as working via Bluetooth on your phone (on the flight and off). So many options!

No crying babies, just quiet Ludovico Einaudi playing your troubles away.

Eating all the food available on the flight

This one takes up a good amount of time and it's something to get excited for (ooh they're loading the carts AND NOW THEY'RE WALKING TOWARDS ME).

Just be careful. On longer flights, you are seemingly constantly offered snacks. You don't need to eat EVERYTHING that is given to you, because it won't help with jet lag if you're still digesting food from your flight 14 hours ago.

My favorites are the Biscoff cookies. They're 30% of the reason I go abroad.

Inflight Movies & TV on long-haul flights

Pace yourself.

You've got a limited number of movies so be sure to pace yourself and leave something for your return flight (thanks for nothing Josh-from-my-first-flight, you should have read this).

You can actually research these before you go on your airline's website. So you can plan a whole adventure before you go!

Pick the sad ones. In your state of tiredness combined with the air-pressure and oxygen levels, you're going to get a good cry in.

Get an upgrade on your flight

Coming to you from the guy that flies coach, get an upgrade.

Walking past Delta ONE all the way to the back of the plane is a difficult process for all of us, so getting an upgrade has become essential.

The biggest tips I can give to get upgrades:

  1. Fly with the same carrier all the time. The more you fly, the more they value you, the more likely you are to be given an upgrade. It's worth having loyalty with airlines in the states.
  2. Some credit cards are tied to airlines like my Delta Amex which gives special status and upgrades for purchases made on it. I'm not saying you should go crazy with a credit card but if you're making purchases already, you may as well make them work for you a little harder!
  3. Be nice. It's rare, but being nice can at least help for an empty aisle on a plane where you can lie down.
Josh Pugh

Josh Pugh

Josh is a business founding, digital marketing focused, charity driving, community builder from South Australia, living in New York City. After moving in 2017, Josh realized that there was an opportunity to curate and help the community of expats who moved to the United States – and launched America Josh. Josh is also the President of Variety – the Children's Charity of New York, Secretary at The Mateship Foundation, and Founder & CEO at Fortnight Digital.View Author posts

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