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How do you kill time on a plane/train/bus?

I have racked up hundreds of hours inside planes, trains, buses and car rides. Yet, I still can't seem to kill the time fast enough. Usually if it's a short ride like 1-2 hours, I fall asleep pretty easily; however, for some reason, if it's more than 3 hour, I cannot fall asleep no matter how much melatonin or sleeping pills I take. I just get drowsy and then fall asleep right before landing. I always bring an iPad full of ebooks and my laptop to do some writing and I can never get comfortable enough to get anything done. I get irritated and uncomfortable in my seat and I usually end up annoying the person beside me by tossing and twisting in all sorts of angles. 

So how do you kill time on rides? Any advice on how to have a comfortable plane ride for long trips?


15 Answers

top answer by
Ross from Fort Collins

I like to be awake on trains, busses, and cars! but on plains i want to sleep! heavy drinks in airport bar, then once on board break into the bottle you got in duty free and continue! lol

5 thanks

answered by

I fly 80-90 times a year at the moment and when I fly then I bring my laptop and do some work while I fly and if I fly a decent airline where the cabin crew does not have to sell scratch cards whenever they have a minute to spare, which i mostly do, then I pop out back and have a char with them.

I find that they moslty treat me like a college cause I am a tourism professional.

If I travel by train then I hit the restaurant car if there is one and I do everything on the planet to avoid long bus rides as this is truely the pits of traveling.

3 thanks

answered by
Sarah from London, England

I enjoy traveling and am certainly not someone who travels long distances that regularly.

If I am on a trip with my husband then we take the opportunity to catch up and talk about things other than the day to day. Our friends, our plans etc. It is such a luxury to have that time.

I like to plan what we will be doing when we arrive, so I might browse travel guides. 

I love to catch a film as I never have time to go to the cinema. 

I also really enjoy reading- a magazine, a book on my kindle. Again I never have enough time for this in real life so it feels like a treat. 

I find it hard to sleep, but can easily kill a 7 hour flight with a meal, a film, and some reading.

Equally the last train journey we took passed quickly with a picnic, some quality talk, a crossword and reading the paper.

I  am sure that isn't helpful!

2 thanks

answered by
AJ from Connecticut

I don't get to travel as much as some of the others on here, but I find - i sleep easier on road than on rail/sea/air.  I think its all the potholes ;) - put me right to sleep - except long long bus rides *YIKES*

but to your question:

a) I am big on ebooks, so Kindle/Google/Apple - whichever has cheap / free or sometimes books that I want to read - I end up buying. Problem is I am a voracious reader, and usually end up consuming most even before the start of a journey :)!! 

I have had a trip from US To Dubai - with a Layover in London - guess what - finished a book.  I tried to change my habits now - so I am a little more present and enjoy the journey itself. which leads to -> 

b) I do enjoy chatting up, it is always fun to meet new people, and a lot of them have great stories, or alot of knowledge - which helps when you travel to new places (always interesting to hear about food, places to visit, non-touristy things to do

c) I subscribe to soo many podcasts, but in regular life do not get to catch up on them.  So I just set a bunch to download prior to leaving home (or wherever I have wifi) and then catch up while on a bus/air etc - because if I am just listening the battery lasts longer.  On that note, get yourself a external battery so that it can last longer.  I usually don't watch movies, unless it is a local movie in a local theater while traveling, so don't have much of that media.  

d) of course - load up on music. helps time pass by alot quicker.

e) buy puzzle books, or regular books.  Why not, sometimes I just miss reading a paperback/hardbound book, and or magazines.  Friend of mine, gets published in NG - so usually pick up NG and other travel related magazines.  Always good to find out the next travel spot :) !! 

hope that ramble helps.

2 thanks

answered by
Moses from London

There's no shortage of things you could do to spend your time on a flight. Here are some of my habits 


1) water with vitamin c to stay hydrated and beef up my immune system 


2) aisle seat for more leg room and frequent walks & stretch 


3) ditch the bread and gluten with your meal - the last thing I want above the air is nursing a stomach pain 


4) wipe the tray down before using, it's dirtier than the planes toilet as it never gets cleaned

1 thanks

answered by
Kimberly from Chicago

Listen to a podcast on the Stitcher app or read the news on the Feedly app. You could also listen to an audio book on or the app. Lastly, you can always listen to some calming music and bring a blanket, sweater or sweatshirt you can cover yourself with or sleep on as a pillow (in lieu of a pillow) or you can buy and bring a travel pillow. Though, not sure the standard travel pillow is comfortable. I'm sure there are a lot of choices out there, so you might be able to find a comfortable one. Lastly, make sure you have noise cancelling headphones. Also, take a window seat so you can lean on the window and your preferred pillow to sleep if you find yourself relaxed enough to fall asleep. Also, you don't want the beverage cart to knock you in the leg/foot.

1 thanks

answered by
Cherie from Bay Area

I tend to only purchase magazines when I'm traveling. For plane trips, I treat myself by picking up a brand new issue or three (style & travel mags are my weaknesses) at the airport to help pass the time. Also, it's easier for me to sleep on a long trip with a scarf to help cover my face/eyes (airplane air tends to be very dry) and a neck pillow! 

 For other long trips, especially in a car or bus, I like books on tape. And don't forget snacks on any trip. ^_^ 

1 thanks

answered first by
Scott from Fort Collins

Hello Jinny!  Since I have a helluva time sleeping while getting from point A to point B, I try for variety.  I'll play solitaire, or a card game, then maybe watch a movie (if available), get up and walk around, have a cocktail, or three, read a few articles, people watch (not in a creepy way). Then wash, rinse and repeat. Sometimes I can get in an hour or two of sleep, but I don't plan on it.  I've found the variety really helps break up the monotony of a long trip.

1 thanks

answered by
Supun from Carson (California)

The best thing to do is to make conversations with people next to you. One memory I have is going from Bucharest to Oradea on a not-so-express Train. It took 14 hours. And for the first half of the trip nobody in my cabin knew english. I'm pretty sure I got short changed by one of the venders and kept trying to explain to anyone that would listen. My fellow passengers were really nice and shared food with me and would motion for me to come take a pick when ever we passed something worth taking a pic. Finally a little past the half way point a young man that was about to become a priest came on board, and his english was very good. We argued candidly and civilly about religion for the next 6 hours. Prior to that on that same trip while flying to Bucharest from LA, I sat next to a lady on a flight from Chicago to Heathrow. It felt like the shortest flight ever. She didn't know how to stop talking. She would start telling a story, fall asleep and continue right where she left off the moment she woke up. She was a hitchhiking hippy back when she was young and had lots of stories. 

I usually bring along a few books that I haven't finished yet. I finished a whole anthology of Rabindranth Tagore short stories while one leg of flights.  I finished Gandhi's autobiography the first time I went to India while on the flights to and back. It's a very terse read. I have Carl Sagan's Billions and Billions lined up to finish on my next flight. Khalil Gibran's The Prophet is one that I like to read over and over while on airplanes. Some of the stuff seems to have different meanings to me when I re-read them while I'm in different moods.

I really like it when they have movies that don't suck on a flight, but that's becoming more and more rare.

I've also invented my own meditations. One that I call the "Pearl Jam meditation" comes up when I listen to "Just Breathe". My favorite line is "I'm a lucky man to count on both hands the ones I love. Some folks just have one; others, they got none." And then I'll count 10 people that I love on each of my 10 fingers and see who comes to mind. Another one is where I try to play back my whole day backwards in one continuous film strip and if I get stuck, I start again from what I think is the end of the day. Another one is where I imagine leaves falling into a gentle stream and I try to relate each of leaves to a random thought that comes up. 

answered by
Jaleh from Baltimore

I usually try and read a book, but I've found podcasts to be really interesting as well! Sometimes I don't have enough of an attention span to read something new while traveling, but I don't just want mindless music in the background either. Podcasts are a good middle ground. Some of the ones I enjoy are Wine for Normal People, The Nerdist, Go Fork Yourself, and Star Talk Radio. 

answered by
Maria Jose from Strasbourg

1. Books & Newspapers/Magazines

2. Puzzle books/ game apps.  

3. Music and Podcasts. 

4. Sleep. 

I love reading but I cannot spend 5 hours reading so I try to alternate between activities. I might read for an hour and a half, then listen to music, skim through a magazine or do some crossword puzzles or sudoku. I actually buy puzzle books instead of apps because that way I can play some game on my phone like 2048 or Angry Birds without completely draining my battery. 

If you have an external battery or for some reason your phone/tablet's battery lasts a long time you can download podcasts. The easiest way is through iTunes but if you don't have an iphone/ipad you can get them through a third party app. 

As I said, to kill time it's best if you alternate between each activity so it doesn't feel like you've been listening to music for 8 hours straight. 

answered by
Gerry from Boston

Movies on my IPad!!!

answered by
Travis from Kamloops

I'm in the same boat, I almost never fall asleep - even on overnight buses/trains (unless I'm in a sleeper or something). I tend to pass the time with a mix of music and podcasts. I always make sure I have more than enough podcasts on a variety of topics so I'm never bored. Then I just get as comfy as possible, relax, and listen away. 

answered by
Ashley from Calgary

Spend at least half the time trying to get comfortable!

answered by
Justin from Phoenix

I'm all about the e-reader. There is no better place to read than on an airplane ... so few distractions. 

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