How to Get Through a Long Flight

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You saved hundreds of dollars booking a red-eye flight to the other side of the world. Now it’s time to bite the bullet that is 20-plus hours on a plane. With the advent of airplane mode on a variety of tech devices, keeping yourself entertained isn’t too difficult, but what happens if you find yourself on an older aircraft or, god forbid, get sick of browsing Buzzfeed? Read on for the most productive ways to spend your time at 35,000 miles.

Pocket your reading material

Getting to the airport early might help you beat the lines at check-in and security, but what do you do with two hours in the terminal? You could gorge yourself on a grotesquely large Cinnabon, or you could make use of the airport’s WiFi to stock up on reading material for the flight. With the Pocket app, you can save articles for later offline viewing from your browser or from other apps like Twitter, Flipboard, and Pulse. Then when you’re ready to read, you won’t need to use up precious data. Make the absolute most of your time by selecting articles about your destination.

Brush up on your key phrases

There’s no better time to memorize travel phrases than a long flight. Browse a phrasebook, search the web, or bring a set of index cards to quiz yourself. If you find it too difficult to translate in your head, create flashcards with pictures instead of the English words. Don’t want to add the bulk to your carry-on? StudyBlue, Cram, and Quizlet all provide online flashcard services. You can create your own set or browse quizzes made by other users. No matter what you do, make sure you learn how to say the basics: hello, goodbye, please, thank you, do you speak English, and help.

Stretch your legs

Sitting for long periods of time at a high altitude can contribute to all manner of health problems. Though you shouldn’t loiter in any one area, talking a walk up and down an aisle is hardly forbidden. Just take care to avoid food and beverage service, and be mindful of the seatbelt-on light. Taking time to exercise will pass a little time and keep you feeling on top of your game. If you want to feel even better, avoid sodas and alcoholic drinks – staying hydrated now is key to avoiding jet lag later.

Go low tech

Say you exhaust your patience for screen time. Okay, so actually your tablet battery just died and your charger is buried in the overhead compartment. Make sure you pack a few low tech goodies to keep yourself entertained sans electronics. A deck of cards is the universal friend-maker, plus it’s compact and lightweight, so you won’t have trouble fitting it in your carry-on.

Catch some shut eye

No matter how much entertainment you load your tablet with, 20 hours is a long time to go without sleep. Light sleepers should invest in a high-quality eye mask and sound block. For extra comfort, pack a travel pillow. The J-pillow is uber-trendy, but only necessary for the pickiest sleepers. For most folks, a simple neck pillow will do. Buy an inflatable one to save space in your suitcase. Or for a super low budget version, fill a tube sock with rice, tie off the end, and cover it with a simple fleece sleeve.