Ways to beat boredom on a long-haul flight

If you’ve ever flown on an eight, 10 or 15 hour transatlantic flight, you know that boredom can creep up on you easily. As excited as I get about my trips, let’s get real here, there is a limit to how many movies or television shows I can watch back-to-back. That’s my reality in spite of Netflix’s ardent desire to convert us all into binge-watching addicts.

Besides, laughing animatedly with my travel buddy or even diving deep into an engaging conversation with the passenger sandwiched next to me is not very appealing when everybody within a four-seat radius can hear what we’re saying. And, for most (myself not included), there are only so many book chapters a person can read in one sitting.

We’ve all been there! (Photo credit: graphics20.com)

So what can we do to avoid pulling our hair on those arduous, long-haul flights?  Try one of these suggestions.

Research and practice key words and phrases in the language of the country you will be visiting.

You can do it the old-fashioned way with a pocket dictionary and notepad. Or, you can learn the basics like “hello”, “where is the bathroom”, “how much does this cost”, and “I’d like to order [insert your favorite meals here] via an audio tutorial or with an app – if you have inflight Wi-Fi. No idea which translation app to use? DuoLingo seems to be a popular option.

Here's a quick shopping guide in Italian. (Photo credit: CutureDiscovery.com)
An example of the old-fashioned way: A quick shopping guide in Italian. (Photo credit: CutureDiscovery.com)

Fine-tune your on-the-ground itinerary.

While it’s always good to leave room for spontaneity, I’ve found that some of my best vacations were the ones where I had a clear blueprint of what I wanted to see and do in the destination.

Juts about to start a guided bus tour through the historic streets on Cartagena, Colombia
Giddy with excitement as I’m about to start a guided bus tour through the historic streets on Cartagena, Colombia

Structured activity plans, with room for adjustment, are priceless gems. Guidebooks, bookmarked blog posts, destination websites and TripAdvisor comments are good starting points. They’ll give you multiple ideas for ways to get the most out of your trip.

Complete a few puzzles or play a board game.

Thankfully, we now have many types of puzzles and board games to choose from. There are sliding puzzles, word-search puzzles, anagrams, numerical puzzles and logic puzzles. And my board game lovers, a quick search on Amazon  will yield results showing more than 1700 ways to playfully pass your time during a flight. Also, I just heard about the launch of a new math-based puzzle called Numbrcise  that is laid out like a crossword but it doesn’t use words or phrases as clues. It’s 100 percent number driven. If you’re a math buff, their brain-teasers could keep you occupied for hours.

Be honest, how much time would it take you to solve this?
Be honest, how much time would it take you to solve this?

Organize the photo gallery on your smartphone to get it ready for your sure-to-happen Instagram and Facebook trip snaps.

As a travel blogger, I take random shots all the time because I never know when I’ll need an image for a Twitter chat or a Facebook and Instagram post. Believe me, I always end up with a storage problem.


Yes, I know I can store images in the cloud but I prefer to upload them to my laptop or an external hard drive. The problem is, I hardly ever get around to doing that. That’s why sitting on a plane is perfect for cleaning house. Not only do I have time to delete the images I’ll never really use but I also get to sort and enhance existing photos. Oh, and on the return flight I recommend editing and curating images for sharing with friends and family, or with your online community. My photo editing software of choice is Snapseed.  It works for both iOS and Android phones.

Try airplane yoga!

Until recently, I never even knew that such a thing as a Cat-cow pose at 30,000 feet existed. But according to CNN Travel it does. I found several online articles about the subject and a ton of YouTube instructional videos that show you exactly what to do.

Who says you can't get your zen on inflight? (Getty image)
Who says you can’t get your zen on inflight? Apparently, you can. (Getty image)

See which of these 18 Exercises For Healthy Flying will work for you – and your seatmates. I’m all for avoiding deep vein thrombosis (blood clots) but I sure am NOT down with my neighbor busting out a downward dog in the aisle next to my seat. I’d be like,”Excuse me, please!”

When all else fails, get some sleep.

Have a great flight on your next lift off!

Why I love traveling with my mom

Have you ever traveled with a parent as an adult? Some people say they don‘t enjoy themselves when they do, but my experience has been the total opposite.

I. Simply. Love. It!

This is how the chips fall with my folks. My Dad is a stay-close-to- home kind of guy, but once the destination forecast says clear skies and good weather, my Mom will have her bag, passport and swimsuit packed in a heartbeat. I know I may be totally biased here, but I think that ready-to-explore at the drop of a hat trait, especially as a senior, is utterly cool.

Easter Monday Beach Lime in Grand Cayman
Easter Monday Beach Lime in Grand Cayman

So here are all the reasons I love traveling with my Mom. [I invite you to share your stories about vacations with your parents at the end of this post.]

Mom ALWAYS has snacks on her. I don’t know how she does it or even when she stashes them in her handbag, but I am absolutely certain I can count on her to have a few save-me-from starvation treats just when I need them most.

She is very low maintenance. I never have to worry about any troubling mood swings, diva-like silences, or loud outbursts when we’re together.

Taking a brief time out in Bimini The Bahamas
Taking a moment to enjoy the calming sea breeze after a dusty and humid walk downtown in Bimini, The Bahamas

We enjoy the same things so planning day excursions is never a hassle. Cultural immersions? We’re both into them. Scenic drives? Oh, yes! Historic and educational tours? Let’s go.

Reading the fine print of the sign next to the four statues in Nobel Square in Cape Town, South Africa

We can read each other like a book so it’s easy to communicate without words, especially in large groups.

She can make friends with almost anybody, and she asks a ton of questions, so I always end up with more local insights when I travel with her.

Quizzing the tour guide on some finer detail of the oral history lesson. Pedro St James, Cayman Islands

For someone who makes no bones about using all her senior citizen privileges at banks and other places of business, she still has a joie de vivre and sense of adventure that is superior to most people 1/3rd her age! 

Camel ride in Egypt
Camel ride in Egypt

She is a ready-made roomie so I can forego paying additional dollars for the single supplement to have my own room on packaged group tours.

I never have to worry about getting all my souvenirs to fit into my luggage for the trip home. I must admit I’ve learned a trick or two over the years but my mom is still the best packer I know.

She’s not shy about taking goofy pictures. Oh, no. I just share my creative vision for a shot and she’ll gladly pose or go behind the camera to snap me.

Playful pictures with Statues in Key West
Grab their suitcase, Mom! [Playful pictures with Statues in Key West]
And finally, at the end of an exasperating or exhilarating day, her hugs are still FREE and they come with no strings attached.

Sunset shot at Table Mountain, South Africa
Sunset shot on top of Table Mountain, South Africa

Can you tell I just LOVE my momma?  I do!