After Nina Katchadourian became an internet sensation last month with her imitations of 15th century Dutch paintings during flights, I started wondering how I could amuse myself on flights. You can only watch so many films before your legs go dead, and pacing up and down the plane only causes an arousal of fear amongst passengers.
Of course the usual suggestions of reading a Kindle or listening to music are all good and well, but as soon as the attendants ask you to turn off all electronic devices, you’re back to twiddling your thumbs and asking yourself “are we there yet?” And for those of us that are a little less than organised when it comes to forward planning and amusements, we are lucky enough to catch our flight, let alone take the time to peruse magazine stalls for some light reading. Instead, take a look at some of these ideas, or offer a few of your own.
#1 Bring a deck of cards
For some reason, probably due to the rise of portable electronic devices, card games have gone from the favoured pastime of long journeys to something only played at casinos or bachelor poker nights. This is unfortunate as there is a multitude of games you can play, and no matter where you’re from card games are known around the world. If you’re on a long flight with friends you can while away hours playing gin rummy; if travelling by yourself a few games of solitaire will fill some time. Otherwise, why not make friends with your fellow passengers and invite them to join in a game? In fact, start a poker ring and you can have your very own mile high poker club.
#2 Learn yoga
Remember all those New Year’s resolutions, every time you walked by a class and said to yourself, “I’ll sign up next week”, or those times you told yourself you were too busy? Well now that you have several hours of nothing to do, you can finally start learning yoga. Before you start doing the Warrior Pose in the middle of the aisle however, remember that some yoga can be done from the seat, or by simply standing in the aisle and stretching. There are plenty of yoga websites and books out there that offer seated and standing positions to practice; pick whichever ones suit your ability level.
Even if yoga doesn’t interest you, simply moving and stretching is good for the body on long flights to prevent the onset of aching backs, stiff joints, and deep vein thrombosis.
#3 Practice travel writing
All of us have tinkered with the idea of writing a novel about our travels, or at least have a guilty conscience of not updating that travel blog of ours for awhile. Take the free time you have on the plane to start writing. Think about your past travels, and in particular any moments that have firmly made a home in your mind. Now start writing them down! Even if it doesn’t amount to a book, a quick Google search will show literally hundreds of travel writing contests which you can enter your writing. You never know, you just might win a trip or money towards your next journey!
#4 Work on your photography or drawing skills
Take a look at the map provided on the screens and see what sights you might be flying over during your trip. Chances are you will be flying over some astounding natural wonders or manmade structures from an angle that you wouldn’t normally see them from. It is the ideal opportunity to take some photos or even practice drawing these sights from the comfort of your seat. Flying over Mont Blanc? Take a picture from the summit without the excruciating effort of climbing up it. Get a bird’s eye view of Hong Kong’s city of lights or the valleys of England.
#5 Leave notes for the next passengers
It is more than likely that the next people to sit in your seat will be as bored as you on their flight. Why not bring a smile to their face and spread the karmic good cheer by leaving funny notes on bits of paper throughout the pages of the inflight magazine? Or better yet, make a flip book and leave it for their viewing pleasure in the pocket on the seat in front of you?
#6 Pretend to be Sherlock Holmes
If you have read all your magazines and sleep evades you, then sometimes there is nothing better to do than people watch. But instead of just goggling at the handsome gentleman across the aisle from you, why not try to guess what he does for a living? Does something about his appearance give away his favourite hobby? By trying to discern details about a person’s life solely from their appearance you can easily while away the time. Plus, finding out something unique about a person can be an easy conversation starter, and making friends with people on a flight is a sure-fire way to kill time. Either that or you might end up talking with an absolute nut case, but hey, at least you aren’t bored anymore.