Surviving a Sleepless Flight

Long-haul flights are easy to manage for some. They get to their seat, put in some earbuds and are snoring away while engines kick into motion, snoozing before take-off is even complete. Others find sleeping on a flight difficult. The coughing passengers, crying babies and the anticipation of arriving at your destination can make it so that sleep never comes. Eye masks, ear plugs, blankets and sleep aids don’t get it done sometimes. So, how do you survive it?

  • Books: Reading and Coloring

    • Packing at least one favorite or new book to occupy yourself and pass the time. Choose a small paperback copy will help to reduce the bulk in your carry-on and lessen the weight of anything you are carrying.
    • Add a book or two to your favorite eReader or get a preloaded classics flash drive!
    • Adult coloring books (or kid ones) can be a fun way to change things up and occupy your time.
  • Music/Podcasts/Audiobooks

    • Load up your music library (be sure they are available “offline”) so that you have a lot of options to choose from. Change genres, change bands and keep it interesting! Save some podcasts that you like as well. If you are working on a writing project, podcasts are GREAT for some research and inspiration!
  • Movies/Videos

    • Save some videos and movies to your phone, tablet or laptop. I like to save them on a flash drive if I have a digital copy so space is free on my other devices. Watch a movie or two and let the time pass on by!Symbology
  • Write/Edit Photos

    • If you are a writer, using this time to brainstorm, edit or write content will also pass the time. I often lose track of time when writing, as I know many people do. Keeping all of your notes and spreadsheets on a flash drive makes this easy. Regardless of the device you have with you on the flight, you can get something done without taking up space on your devices.
    • Journaling is another great way to pass the time. If you are anything like we are, you probably have a dozen journals to choose from. However, we like to get a new journal just for each trip. That way, all the travel memories are in one place and easy to relive later.
    • Sometimes I will do some editing of photos while flying too. My programs are on my laptop and the images on external hard drives which travel easily in my bag.
  • Chatting

    • While many people don’t like to talk to strangers on a flight, a simple introduction can make the awkwardness of asking to be let out of your row a little less overwhelming. If you travel with friends, chatting about sites you are excited to see or plans you have while at your destination can also pass your time quickly.


  • Daydream

    • I do this a lot on long flights. I put in my headphones, listen to an audiobook, music or podcast and just watch the clouds float by while my mind wanders off into distant lands or scenery.


A long-haul flight can be rough for sure, especially for those who can’t just “power down”.  Keep your carry-on light with some more compact devices and books, load various entertainment options onto your device and settle in for some relaxation if you can’t sleep. Even a 14 hour flight can go by easily if you are prepared.

“Keep your heart open, a suitcase packed and wander often, for the world is wide and adventure awaits.” ~ Emylee 

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