My husband and I almost always fly long-haul when we go away. We love going to far-flung locations, and (for us anyway) the further the better!

Because of this I’ve become an expert on ways to pass time on a long haul flight – and I have a few tricks up my sleeve.

I actually don’t love flying, In the past I used to suffer from pretty severe flying anxiety, but I’m getting so much better with my fear of flying and a lot of that has been down to finding things to occupy my mind as I fly.

I find that if I sit there doing nothing, it’s so much easier to over-analyse the situation and you know, freak out at the fact I’m 30,000 ft above ground in a flying metal tube.

Anyway! Here are ways to pass time on a long haul flight…

Solve a Rubix cube

First on my list of ways to pass time on a long haul flight, it’s the ultimate puzzle. Rubix cubes are the bane of my existence. But damn, I wouldn’t get on a plane without one.

Have I solved it yet? The answer my friends is NO. But I’ll spent at least an hour trying before I get bored. Click here to buy on and begin the mental torture. 

I once made a friend in Sydney airport who solved my Rubix cube for me as we were waiting in the departure gates.

24 hours later, in a heightened state of delirium on a delayed lay-over in Dubai, I thought I had solved it myself. Needless to say, when I remembered who actually solved it I was crazy disappointed.

Ways to pass time on a long haul flight.

Download an addictive TV series

Second on my list of ways to pass time on a long haul flight, it’s to download loads of TV shows.

The this my next line of defence when it comes to fighting off boredom on a long haul flight.

I’ll usually save a really ‘addictive’ TV show for a long haul flight, because if each episode is 40 minute, then 6/7 episodes usually a good chunk of my flight gone. The shows I would recommend are:

  • The Bachelor (I know this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s sooo addictive, especially if you’re watching a good season)
  • Game of Thrones (even when rewatching it, I can’t help but click onto the next episode)
  • Amazing Race (I like this because it’s travel related, but also because it’s super fast paced)
  • Love Island (if there’s a season airing during my flight, I don’t watch any episode for a week and then download them on catch up)
  • Any crime documentary series / crime drama series

The point of this is to find a TV show that is easy to watch, fast paced and keeps you wanting to watch more.

Generally, reality shows tend to be good at this, but I find crime is a really gripping genre too – so works just as well.

Read more about flying: What is a domestic flight?

Ways to pass time on a long haul flight

Buy yourself some colouring books

Third on my list of ways to pass time on a long haul flight, it’s adult colouring books.

I often like to do things with my hands on flights, I’m a bit of a fidget and find that having something to do with my hands (alongside watching a TV show or movie) helps the time pass quicker.

Colouring is a pretty recent discover for me – I always rejected it a bit as I thought that grown adults colouring was a bit weird.

I love the mandala colouring books – you can buy them on Amazon here.

And don’t forget to buy nice pens / crayons!

But then I tried it out on a 15 hour flight and it genuinely made my flying experience so much more enjoyable.

It helped the time pass much quicker, but it was also satisfying to do, and helped with any flying anxiety / nerves. So yeah, colouring is cool and I’m here for it!

Read more about flying: Everything you need to know about the Emirate Business Class Lounge in Dubai

Ways to pass time on a long haul flight

Play The Sims

OK, this next suggestion on my list of ways to pass time on a long haul flight, might not be everyone’s cup of tea!

This suggestion is dedicated to my little sister, who on a recent flight to Chicago surprised me by downloading our favourite childhood game to play.

The Sims is a game that literally swallows you up and spits you out 10 hours later. You can get lost in a black hole of cheat codes and building fake houses, and it legit made the time fly by.

Even if you’re not a huge fan of The Sims, try downloading another one of your favourite childhood computer games!

Ways to pass time on a long haul flight.

Write a book (yes really!)

I’m a writer by trade, and writing a chapter (or 10) of my novel is a pretty solid use of my time on flights.

The lack of WiFi always helps me get loads done (no distractions) and I find the quiet of the cabin makes for a really pleasant writing environment.

If writing a novel sounds a bit too hardcore, then what about doing some creative writing challenges, or even writing a journal?

Actually, on my return flights from long trips, I often try and write down memories of the trip and holiday to include in a scrap book or album when I return home. It’s a really nice way to pass a bit of time. Definitely one of my key ways to pass time on a long haul flight.

Read more flying tips: Is flying first class worth it?

Edit your photos

This is a big one for me! ON a 7 day trip somewhere, I’ll probably take anywhere between 3,000 and 8,000 images.

I don’t use them all, they’re not all good, but I do like to scroll through and edit all my favourites during my flights.

If I’m on my laptop and editing camera images, I use lightroom – and if I’m on my phone I use the VSCO app. Either way, editing photos from my trip can easily take 2 or 3 hours, which is often 25-50% of the entire flight.

Another thing I’ve started doing recently on my return flights is making a video of the trip too. It doesn’t need to be a complex video, you don’t even have to use a special app.

But I spend an hour or so editing together my video clips and turning them into something beautiful that I can look back on one day.

Read more flying tips: Amazing tips on how to overcome your flying anxiety (from someone who did it!)

Ways to pass time on a long haul flight.

Buy snacks and eat them

Ever heard the saying ‘Don’t eat because you’re bored’? Whilst I agree with that statement for life in general… Eating out of boredom is actually a pretty solid strategy on a long haul flight.

I usually pack my hand luggage with some of my favourite sweets and crisps (and even a sandwich) and it gives me something to look forward to midway through the flight.

If you’re flying out of Chicago, get yourself a box of Garrett’s popcorn… that is the ultimate plane snack (my number one favourite) and lasts for hours!

how to pass time on a plane

Learn a language

As a quick challenge on the flight, or to keep you busy for an hour or so, try learning some new phrases from a new language.

If you’re heading somewhere that doesn’t speak English, then learn some basic phrases can actually be super helpful for when you arrive!

Read more flying tips: How to find cheap business class tickets for your next flight

Download loads of podcasts

I find that time passes quicker when I have my eyes closed, so I really enjoy podcasts for planes because you can pop an eye mask on, close your eyes and just sit back and listen. Some of my favourite podcasts are:

  • Serial (true crime, series one is absolutely addictive)
  • Office Ladies (a rewatch podcast with Angela and Pam from The Office)
  • Penn’s Sunday School (Penn from Penn and Teller talking about life. I love his voice and could listen to it all day)
  • Anything conspiracy theory related.

Talk to your neighbour

When I’m flying with my husband we have a rule that we don’t really talk to each other during the flight.

We’ll usually exchange impressed or disappointed glances when the food comes, but aside from that we retreat into our own flight-world. HOWEVER, when flying on my own, I’ve been know to have conversations with seat neighbours.

Being an introvert (and also a bit socially awkward) I don’t tend to initiate these conversation myself – but if someone wants a chat I’m always happy to oblige.

Some of my quickest flights have been spent chatting with flight neighbours. I always quite like going for a chat with the cabin crew too at the front / back of the plane.

scared of flying

Try and name all the US state in 30 minutes

My husband and I tried this recently and although we did ‘OK’ we didn’t get them all – and for hours afterwards I was racking my brain trying to think of the ones we were missing.

Genuinely, I think this would be a great way to pass and hour or so on a plane – and the frustration will take over so much you’ll forget how much time has passed anyway.

Get some sleep

Honestly, the best way to pass time on a plane is by falling asleep. Even a quick nap on a long haul flight can take you a couple of hours closer to your destination.

Struggling to sleep? Lavender oil helps, as does a good eye mask and a comfortable (high quality) neck pillow. And bring your own blanket!

Read more travel tips: How early should you get to the airport?

How to pass time on a long haul flight