5 ways to unplug and unwind at 20,000ft


As we are swiftly nearing the end of the year, I started to reflect on 2015 and all the things I had set out to accomplish last December. While I still haven’t given up chocolate or run that half marathon, I have accomplished my main goal; to travel as much as I possibly could and make a life for myself in paradise.

Much to the detriment of my carbon footprint (a debate for another time), I have spent 2015 in seven different countries. During this time I have taken 15 flights to 7 different airports, in which I spent a total of 18 hours worth of layovers, and approximately 30+ hours in the air.

Thankfully, I love flying and still feel a childish giddiness as soon as I see the sign for the airport. But along my travels, I have met so many people who detest sitting crammed next to strangers for up to 10 hours with nothing but recycled air and the same 5 films for entertainment, who could blame them. There are hundreds of articles floating around the web with ideas of what to do to distract yourself from the monotony of sitting still for so long. But they seem all about how to switch your head off and ‘get through’ a flight like its an annual visit from a really boring distant aunt.

Instead of thinking how we can make the time pass quickly so we can get it out of the way with, why not make the most of it, really see this time for what it is; an opportunity.

I have collected my top five favourite, tried and tested activities whilst at 20,000ft that involve absolutely no technology, time killing games or distractions. These are just some of the ways to keep your brain active instead of wasting hours zoning out in front of that film or show you really didn’t want to watch anyway.  Just because you have to spend 10 hours in one place, doesn’t mean its wasted time, think what you could do in 10 hours if you spent it fully engaged.

  1. Yoga/meditation 

A quick YouTube search will reveal some really effective videos with suggestions on Aeroplane Yoga. No, you won’t have to be that person, who gets up and dances in the aisles. This can be as subtle or exhibitionist as you like, either way, it will give you time to relax, refocus and practice a new skill.

Another great practice is meditation, whether you are new to the art or a life long master, taking anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours to clear your mind and really be present in a moment, has actually been proven to improve problem solving skills as well as stress levels. Especially great for nervous flyers, or those with deadlines and pressured work environments. When else in a busy day can you justify sitting quietly and calmly, focusing solely on you.

2. Crochet, knit, make something

Last week I learned to crochet in 10 minutes…not well I might add, but enough for it to be fun an keep me occupied for hours. Creating things and practising crafts is a great way to make aeroplane hours count for something. Knitting and crochet needles are allowed on flights according to the TSA, as well as scissors less than 4″ in length. You don’t need patterns or anything fancy, although it would be great if you have the hand luggage room to bring crafting materials too. There is also something very relaxing about the repetitive patterns of crocheting. Not only will you be relaxed, have improve fine motor skills, but you will also have something to show for your time when you hit the arrival gate.

3. Colour/draw/doodle

I rarely go anywhere without my adult colouring books because I’m just that cool! They now come in travel size which is very exciting. They are inexpensive and can be found here.

Drawing from memory, with nothing but inspiration to draw from really keeps your mind active and gets those creative juices flowing.

Doodling can also be very relaxing, and can keep your hands busy while your mind is busy thinking creative thoughts.

4. Write

I love taking time to write while on a plane. I see so many people reading, watching films and admiring other people’s creations. My favourite thing is actually create, whether it be a story, poem, song lyrics, or a journal article.

If you look online before you depart, there are great website dedicated to giving writing prompts and exercises. My usual writing exercise is to start by writing down everything I hear for 5 minutes, then filling in the gaps.

If you have a book with you, open to a random page, pick a line, write it down and make it the first line of your story. There are so many ways to be creative. Nothing beats sitting down with a pen and blank piece of paper with no deadlines or expectations.

5. Plan your next adventure

Lastly, aeroplane journeys serve as great inspiration to plan new adventures. Make lists of activities you would like to do, things you would like to see and your ideal itinerary. Last year, whilst flicking through the on board magazine, I saw an advert for Chichen Itza on the Yucatan Peninsula. I spent the next three hours dreaming up a Mexican itinerary that turned out to be one of the best backpacking adventures we’ve done so far.

You could even talk to the people around you, strike up a conversation and you don’t know where it could lead. We have given and received great travel tips and heard hilarious travel stories from strangers on plane rides. I love hearing why people choose certain locations and their motivations to travel. One plane ride, I got talking to a woman who loved creating recipes whilst travelling, she was compiling a cook book on the plane next to me and sharing all her best secrets she has learnt from around the globe.

Whatever you decide to do to make the most of the hours spent in the air, I wish you all happy adventuring…have a great flight!





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