Ah, flying. Those precious few hours where you feel suspended in time, watching the clouds pass by and reveling in the rare excuse to switch off from everything.
The beauty of flying is that you can either seize it as a chance to relax (perhaps you’re one of those lucky people who nods off during takeoff and only wakes up when the wheels hit the runway), or you can make the most of the novelty activities that come with being on a plane.
So, whether you’re traveling for business, pleasure, or are just an avid aviation guy, recline your seat, order a drink, and take your picks from this rundown of what to do on a plane.
Preparing for Take Off
Your trip starts long before you set foot on the plane. That’s why it’s good to double-check your packing list (if you haven’t arrived abroad and realized that you’ve forgotten all your underwear, are you human?) and of course, treat yourself to a pre-flight drink at the airport bar to really kick off your excursion.
OK, so by the time you get to the airport, you’ve likely already packed everything. Still, it’s good to take another glance at your packing list to confirm that the essentials are there, and make any last-minute purchases if necessary.
Naturally where you’re going and for how long will determine what you need to bring, but the basics are underwear, socks, shirts, pants, belt, pajamas, and your toiletry bag. Items that you’ll need on the plane include your ticket, passport, wallet, phone charger, and neck pillow. Planes also tend to get cold, so it’s worthwhile having a light but warm layer.
If you’re taking a long-haul flight, a great trick is to bring a toothbrush and toothpaste on board. rushing your teeth on a stuffy plane feels truly fantastic—and if you’re meeting someone when you land, you’ll make a great impression by showing up minty fresh.
And for those who have a level of self-confidence most of us can only dream of, compression socks are handy to help your blood circulation. Mock them all you want, but they stop any swelling or discomfort in your legs while you're on the plane.
Stop at the Airport Bar
It’s written in airport law that you have to swing by the bar before hopping on a flight. Opt for a shot of tequila to calm your nerves, a fancy cocktail to get you in the beach mentality, a beer to get you warmed up for seeing friends later, or a soft drink just to relax and unwind. Going to the airport bar is a ritual, it’s a way to officially mark the beginning of your journey and to breathe a sigh of relief after lining up for hours in security and schlepping your bags through the maze of an airport.
No matter how close you’re cutting it with your departure time, dedicate half an hour to sip something cool.
Things to Do
Fast forward through boarding checks, sealed cabin doors, and the ten minutes spent worrying about a baby that won’t stop crying (listen, man, babies are babies, cut ‘em some slack). You’re finally in the sky, smoothly coasting at thousands of feet, ready to fill your time. Here are some ideas.
Take a Nap
There’s something about getting some shut-eye on a plane that just feels right. Maybe it’s the cabin pressure, the dull roar of the engine, or the sensation of floating, but having a nap on a plane always seems extra rejuvenating. Even a five-minute doze can feel like a deep sleep. Kick off your shoes, pull down your eye mask, and remember to angle your head away from the stranger’s shoulder next to you.
Watch a Movie
At this point, you’ve probably seen more films on a plane than at the theater. The cool thing though is that most airlines have up-to-date film lists, so you can check out recent releases completely free of charge. Have a quick browse through the options and take care to match your choice to your mood (if you’re close to drifting asleep, don’t pick horror – being jolted awake at the gory part is no fun). We recommend anything with Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, or Tom Hardy.
Chat to the Person Next to You (Or Don’t)
There are two types of people in this world: those who love chatting with strangers on a plane, and those who couldn’t think of anything worse. If you’re in the former category, don’t be afraid to test the waters and ask your next door neighbor why they’re heading to your shared destination. Alternatively, when their food arrives, jokingly tell them that this meal is on you. That’s classic comedy.
Countless friendships and relationships have been made between plane aisles, and if you like getting to know your fellow travelers, it’s a great way to pass the time and make new connections.
That said, if you’re more introverted (or just not ready to commit to multiple hours of conversation), put those headphones on straight away and avoid eye contact for the full duration of the flight.
Get Down to Business
For the overachievers out there, plane flights are an opportunity to power through some emails, tidy up those spreadsheets, and tie up project loose ends.
The majority of airlines now offer free or paid wifi on board, so simply connect your device and get plugged in. Many people say that they actually find planes a peaceful environment to work in, especially when there’s no one judging you for having a beer while you churn out presentations.
There it is, the full guide for what to do on a plane. Flights don’t have to feel like dull hours that drag on, but they can be a genuinely fun experience.
Buckle up and get creative. The sky’s the limit. Literally.