Things you can do on a plane

people sitting on a plane

Isn’t it ironic that the process of traveling starts with forcing us to be still?

Whether you travel by car, train, bus or plane you’re stuck sitting while in transit with a limited number of activities to pass the time.

So, how can you use your time wisely to pass the hours stuck in your seat? Check out these things you can do on the plane for some useful and fun ideas.


Are you one of those people that falls asleep as soon as the plane reaches cruising altitude? Or perhaps there is nothing you can do to nap on the plane?

On domestic flights, sleep isn’t as important as on international flights. Finding techniques to help you sleep on a plan on long-haul flights will help you win the battle against jet lag.

Even if you can’t sleep on the plane compelling yourself to rest is also helpful. Bring your noise-cancelling headphones and put on soothing music or mediational sounds and shut your eyes for 30 minutes.


If you’ve always loved reading and simple don’t find the time day-to-day, being stuck in an airplane gives you that time to dive into reading for pleasure, self-improvement or education.

Physical books and digital readers count here, there is no wrong way to read!

woman reading on an airplane

Listen to a podcast

The next best thing to reading is listening to podcasts. Some are more of a talk show or interview format, but there are also many that offer stories read to you. It’s a great way to close your eyes while taking in information or entertainment.

Just make sure you download episodes you want to listen to before your trip so you don’t need to rely on internet to listen.

Watch a move

Many airlines offer in-flight movies available through a screen on the back of the seat or through their app/website.

As a backup, you can download movies to your laptop or tablet if you have a streaming subscription through services like Netflix.

Looking for something to do while you wait at the airport for your flight – check out the 17 Things you can do at the Airport While you Wait for your Flight

Try a brain game

Brain games like sudoku and crossword are a fun way to pass the time and exercise your brain. They can be played alone or with your travel partner.

Buy a book of brain games to give your eyes a break from screens.

person holding pen working on a crossword puzzle

Take up some handy work

Handy work, like cross-stitch, drawing and knitting, are productive things you can do on a plane to pass your time that doesn’t involve screens.

Plus, it can be a great conversation starter if you like to chat when you work!

Learn a new language

Traveling internationally where the native tongue is not English?

Use your time on the flight to absorb or polish up on your skills using and understand the language of the country you’ll be visiting. You may not need to have perfect skills to get by, but the local always seem to appreciate the effort.

Apps like Duolingo or audio files you can download on your phone are easy ways to learn.

Make a friend

You don’t want to be one of those people that won’t stop talking on the plane, but it doesn’t mean you can’t engage your seatmates in a little light conversation.

We always enjoy hearing stories from others on how they met someone on a flight and turned out they had an unexpected connection to one another.

Make a list

If you have a big project or event coming up, planning and creating to-do lists is a great use of your time on a plane. You won’t have interruptions like you do at home or at work and the new environment might give you some inspiration.

moving image of a two cartoon characters reading a scroll


Okay, maybe not the best use of your time, but eating good way to break up the flight. Take a break to eat a meal or snack when the flight service occurs. Who knows, maybe something in your belly will help you take a quick nap.

If you’re traveling with kids, eating is important to keep them quiet and happy. Pack small snacks to give throughout the flight. Crackers, dried fruit, granola bars and dry cereal are great choices that won’t be too stinky or messy.

Traveling as a family? Check out this article on Ideas for Family Travel on a Budget

Organize your photos

Faced with nothing much to do and no where to go, organizing and deleting photos on your phone or computer is something you can feel good about spending your time on while you are traveling.

Plus, it gives you more room to put in your new photos after the trip!


Working on the plane is nothing new to the business traveler and while we usually suggest taking a vacation from work while on vacation, you can’t shake the knowledge that work is waiting for you (and possibly piling up) when you return.

So, if it will ease your mind and make your return to work a bit easier, there is no harm in bringing some work to do on the plane — just make sure you don’t end up working through your entire vacation.

There you have it, lots of things you can do on the plane with very few resources or extra gear to pack. We suggest you plan to do at least three of these things to help make the time pass more quickly.

Now that you know what you can do on the plane, it’s time to book your airport parking reservation!