Five tips: beating boredom on a longhaul flight

Published on: Tuesday, May 9, 2017
Five tips: beating boredom on a longhaul flight - shu-Travel-Plane-Woman-469234196-lightpoet copy


Terrified of long-haul flights? Here are five survival tips without a laptop or tablet

1. Knit

Kurt Cobain did it, the Duchess of Cambridge does it, even Ryan Gosling has admitted to being a fan of the stitch pattern; knitting is without doubt one of the trends of our times. The rise of needlecraft has given way to a deluge of books, magazine pull-outs and even a Netflix series on the topic. And given that it is still permissible to carry knitting needles on board an aircraft, could a long haul flight be the ideal time to turn some yarn into a new scarf or bobble hat?

According to Google Trends, searches for knitting have increased in the UK by 53% over the past year and you’ll have no trouble finding instructions or knitting patterns online before you take-off. Apart from a chance to give mum a handmade gift for Christmas, the crafty pastime is also praised for its health benefits, from stress reduction to even decreasing your odds of dementia. Knitting also promotes creativity and relaxation – two things you rarely expect from a long haul flight. And it’s not all baby gros and beanies either, the latest fashion trends include shawls, snoods and even an ommegang tunic (whatever that is).

2. Read

When it comes to a really long flight, it’s impossible to beat a good book, whether it’s Stephen King or the philosophical writings of an award-winning anthropologist like Ernest Becker. And for those with an intense fear of flying, how about finishing Becker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Denial of Death at 35,000 feet?

For a more contemporary fix, try Time Travel: A History by James Gleick. If you feel trapped in the present – or just by the reclining seat in front you – this lively exploration of time delves into a topic that continues to fascinate and frustrate mankind.

Recommended reading list:

  • An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris
    Espionage and government conspiracy in this historical thriller from bestselling author Robert Harris. The infamous Dreyfus affair is retold through the eyes of French army officer Georges Picquart, the man who uncovered the truth about the framing of the Jewish army officer.
  • The Crash Detectives: Investigating the World’s Most Mysterious Air Disasters by Christine Negroni
    Christine Negroni unravels famous plane-related puzzle, from the unsolved disappearance of adventurer Amelia Earhart in 1937 to the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. It’s nice to know, when you’re cruising above the clouds, that the lessons learnt from these incidents have made flying safer today than ever before.
  • At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe by Tsh Oxenreider
    Tsh Oxenreider ponders the meaning of home and family as she journeys from China to New Zealand, Ethiopia to England, husband and three children in tow. Described by the New York Times as “candid, funny and thought-provoking”.

3. Invent

One more title for the shopping list: Startup by Doree Shafrir. The critically acclaimed novel takes a sharp, satirical stab at startup culture stateside and could be the perfect inspiration for building yourself a real business plan on your next longhauler. If you’re all about sky-high thinking then there’s no better place to test your theories than high in the clouds. It’s an intoxicating thought, inventing a business to change the world between takeoff and landing, but sometimes a little turbulence is all one big breakthrough needs.

Use a sick bag to take down notes for the outline of your ideas, and how about asking an amicable air steward for feedback on your pitch, or even make business buddies with the stranger sat next to you. And with air passenger numbers expected to double over the next 20 years, topping 7 billion by 2035, the field of aviation is just waiting for the next big disruptor. If you’ve dreamt of battery-powered aircraft or Uber-styled airlines, running pin-drop pickups from your nearest airport, there’s never been a better time to build on what the Wright brothers started.

4. Podcast

In the year that S-Town and Crimetown reinvigorated the true crime genre, the public’s appetite for podcasts shows little sign of waning. According to podcasting experts RawVoice, approximately 75 million people a month now listen to podcasts, up from 25 million just five years ago. Podcasts can simply be downloaded onto your mobile phone, too – that’s the one electronic item the authorities have yet to ban in their security crackdown. It isn’t just Apple running the game either; Spotify and Deezer have both recently moved in on the market, and are featuring some of the biggest names in the market, including Adam Buxton, No Such Thing As A Fish and Freakonomics.

Recommended listening:

  • Page 94: The Private Eye Podcast
    Interviews and comment from the writers of iconic columns such as Medicine Balls, Rotten Boroughs, Street of Shame from the great British satirical magazine, founded in 1961 and now an institution.
  • U Talkin U2 to Me?
    U2 super nerds Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation) and Scott Aukerman (Comedy Bang! Bang!) discuss the music and impact of the Irish mega-band. It’s a fascinating insight into U2, including the names of all the band members and what instruments they play. It’s an affectionate spoof with a devoted following; and in the end they land the big one: an interview with the band. Arguably the only comedy ever associated with the band.

5. Yoga

Yoga has become a certified craze here in the West. We eat, sleep and lotus pose our way through life, with surveys showing the number of yoga devotees has more than doubled over the past decade. It’s a pastime that promises many health benefits and, with few external distractions, an aircraft is a surprisingly well-suited place to practice the mindfulness involved in this ancient spiritual art.

If you want to vogue and strike a pose, here are three suggestions for your next flight.

  • Easy Pose (Sukhasana)
    Relieve the anxieties and stresses of flying by taking up this seated posture. Keeping a straight back and your eyes closed, lay your hands loose on your lap and cross your legs. Take a long, deep intake of breath and sigh deeply when you exhale, releasing the unwanted tension. After repeating a few times, concentrate on more natural, shallow breathing. You can sit in this position for any length of time, but try to alternate the cross of the legs – it will benefit blood-flow and keep the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) at bay.
  • Sit-down Cat Cow (Marjaryasana)
    One position to tackle spinal tension on a long flight is the cat cow pose. Sit on the edge of your seat, place your hands on your thighs and try to align your feet aligned with your hips. With every breath you inhale, try to draw your chest forward and roll your shoulders back, looking up as you do. Hold this pose before exhaling, bringing your shoulders forward and head down towards your navel. Repeat between 10-20 times, trying to focus on keeping your movement in time with your breathing.
  • Rock pose (Vajrasana)
    Traditionally recommended for improving digestion, tackling DVT and fighting anxiety, this pose won’t move you from your seat but it will still get the blood flowing. Sitting down in a kneeling position, with your heels pressing into the nerves in the centre of your buttocks, keep your back straight and upright. As you feel the stretch in your legs, place your hands palm down on your thighs and try holding the pose in a meditative state for as long as feels comfortable.