7 Ways to Make the Most Out of Your Long-Haul Flight

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Does the idea of being up in the air for at least 5 hours excite you?

No? I didn’t think so.

For most of us, traveling long haul flights whether within the continental US, or internationally, brings a big sigh and not of relief. You’re crammed with hundreds of people, your legs barely have room, and to make things worse, someone’s child might cry during the whole flight.

(If you’re the parent of the child, then you’d probably be miserable the whole flight, too. But that’s just how parenting works).

I’ve been to flights that are 12, 14, and 16 hours long! They are not fun. You’re immobile and can’t move around. You’re just sitting, and essentially waiting until the plane lands.

Since you cannot really do a lot, just maximize the time that you have by doing the following:

Listen to podcasts and read blogs.

I follow several blogs and podcasts to keep learning about productivity, personal finance, and other topics I’m interested in. It’s amazing how quickly they pile up. Use your favorite Feedcatcher for blogs and podcasts to read and listen to your backlogs.

For blog feeds, I use RSSOwl for my Surface and GReader for my Android phone. Both these apps’ user interface look like you’re staring at an early 2000s software. But it is pretty good at catching and downloading the articles and posts from the blogs you follow. I would have loved Feedly for this purpose, but you can’t really use it without an internet connection.

Another option is to use Pocket app to save the articles you want to read and then sync these apps to download the articles before you board your plane.

For podcasts, I use PlayerFM but Stitcher is an equally good podcast catcher for Android. For the iPhone, you can always use the native podcast app.

Read a book or listen to an audiobook.

Get a book from your TBR (To Be Read) pile. If you don’t have a TBR pile, you should build one. Check out the best books in your field and increase your knowledge. You’re not the reader type? You can also an audiobook.

You should also read some fiction. You can choose from many different titles. I personally like Sci-Fi and Fantasy, but more fantasy in recent years. I like some thriller and some literary fiction. If you don’t know where to start picking up a fiction book, head over to Goodreads and see last year’s Best Books as voted by Goodreads users.

Compose or answer emails.

Before you even board the plane, connect to the airport’s free wifi and download all your emails. Then compose those emails you’ve been waiting forever to write. Answer the ones that had been waiting for your attention for the past couple of days or weeks.

Plan and brainstorm for a project or goal.

You can also use this time in the plane to think about new projects for yourself, or for your work. Personally, a small notebook or sketchpad helps me clarify my thoughts and explore new directions for my work and my personal projects.

Write.

If you don’t have a journal, give it a try. You can go analog by picking up a nice notebook. Or you can use a notetaking app such as Evernote, OneDrive, or Google Keep. There are also a number of apps for iOS, Android, and Windows that will help you keep a journal.

Since I keep and maintain a blog, I want to use my long-haul flights to write and rack up blog posts for later publications. To help me avoid staring-at-the-blank-screen-syndrome, I have a list of blog posts that are waiting to be written. They are all stored in my OneNote. I also use OneNote to write as it syncs to all my devices when it connects to the Internet.

Catch up with movies & TV series you missed.

Don’t want to work in the plane? That is totally fine. Relax and catch up with the movies you missed. Most airlines traveling internationally have screens installed at the back of each seat so you can watch movies, TV series, and other videos.

The good thing is, they usually feature newer movies. Don’t be afraid to try new movies and TV series. That is how I discovered Doctor Who and the Big Bang Theory.

Sleep.

Léon asleep on the plane

You don’t really want to work or do anything? That is totally fine, too. Just lean back, relax, and sleep. There are some benefits to taking supplements such as Melatonin or colds/cough meds such as Tylenol that can help you sleep. But I wouldn’t recommend those because there may be some emergencies in the plane that will need you to be attentive and alert.

Enjoy your flight and be productive (or not).

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