Four hours can feel like eight when you are sitting in an airplane seat with thirty inches of leg room. Smart phones seem like an easy way to keep yourself occupied but they are sometimes not allowed or at least discouraged on mission trips so we get a little bit more creative with entertainment.
Sudoku, crossword puzzles, word finds, Rubik’s cubes, there are a plethora of small games that you can fit in your carry on and play by yourself or with the people sitting next to you. (Mad Libs, anyone?)
This is kind of an obvious one, but if you are able to sleep on a plane, use some of your flight time to take a nap. You won’t even notice the time that passes while you are asleep plus you will be a little bit more rested when you arrive!
Write a short story or poem.
Pull out your journal and put ideas into words. If you like poetry, write some verses while you have time and quiet to think. If you’re not into poems, let your inner author out with a short story or two.
Talk to the person you are sitting next to.
Simple in theory but it makes a lot of people nervous to have a full conversation with someone they don’t know. Take the time to get to know a teammate if you are sitting next to them or meet a stranger. You never know what interesting things you might learn from them if you take the time to talk!
Read a book.
For once, you have hours of (relatively) uninterrupted time where you (definitely) don’t have to be anywhere else. Take advantage of it and get into a book you haven’t had time to finish, or maybe haven’t even had time to start.
Play cards with your neighbor.
This may be a little easier on layovers where you have more room, but there are plenty of two or three player card games you can set up on those tray tables in a plane. Try Go Fish, Rummy, War, or Crazy 8’s.
Color or doodle.
Coloring books are coming back into style, even for grown-ups. Bring one of those and a pack of colored pencils and you’re good to go! If you like to be a little more free to be creative with what you draw, just bring a sketchbook.
Make up life-stories for the other passengers on the plane.
If you have an imagination that runs wild, this is a blast. Pick out another passenger on the plane, notice every detail you can about them, (are they right or left handed? dyed hair? how much luggage?), and use those to make up an outlandish story about their life, where they came from, and where they are going. Tell the stories to a friend or write them down.
Learn a little bit of the language they speak at your destination.
If you’ve packed a small phrasebook of the native language, break it out on the flight there and study it a little bit. Try to figure out how to say the phrases. Practicing with your friends is great, or even better if your neighbor on the plane speaks that language and can help you out!
Long flights don’t have to be hours upon hours of staring at the seat in front of you. There are plenty of ways to get your creativity flowing, get to know other people, and learn new things while you are on the way to your destination. You can see some really beautiful perspectives on the earth from you window as well so don’t forget to look out every once in a while!