The only person I know who loves flying is a pilot. The rest of us globetrotters simply view it as a means to an end, and that includes me.
Living in the middle of the Pacific Ocean means I’m regularly on long-haul flights. (New York to Tokyo is 14 hours, and I still have four more hours to get home to Guam!) Living half-a-world away for the last five and a half years, I’ve challenged myself to master the art of traveling, and especially flying. That means being ultra prepared for long flights, while still packing light. But beyond packing, there’s the mental challenge of being in a plane for half a day. Obviously, you can occupy time watching TV, sleeping, and reading. But wait, there’s more! Read my 10 things to do on an 10-hour flight.
Catch up on thank-you cards
There’s always someone to thank and a simple note goes a long way between family, friends, neighbors, and even business associates. Thank-you cards take up less than a pound in your carry-on, so bring a stack and get writing!
Write someone a personal letter
If a card won’t suffice, write a letter. I cannot remember the last time I received a handwritten letter in the mail. It’s one of the few gifts that is truly unique and personal. Bring nice stationary, a pen, and your deepest thoughts. You could even type out the letter first, then pen it in your best handwriting.
Start that novel
If you’re like me, you’ve been starting and stopping your novel for years — both on paper and in your head. A long flight is the perfect time to unleash your creativity. If you’re not sure where to begin, start with a character outline. If you’re really ambitious, create a spreadsheet, and follow these directions to flesh out your ideas.
Write a screenplay
Want to skip the paperback section and go straight to film? Write a screenplay! If you have WIFI during the flight, create a free account at Celtx to get started. This software allows you to format your script easily and to industry standards. I used Celtx to write my Cairns documentary script.
Create a movie
You’ve probably got a hard drive full of travel photos. Bring them on your next flight and create a slideshow or film in iMovie. If you haven’t used iMovie, be assured it’s very easy, even if you’re not a filmmaker. Be sure to bring your headphones and if you want to add your favorite music, load up your laptop before you take flight.
Balance your checkbook
A little less glamorous than all that creative stuff, there are just some chores we put off. If money management is one of them, be a big boy or girl and get to work on your next flight. Most of us are banking online these days, so if your flight doesn’t have WIFI, simply download your bank statements before you jet. A word of caution, don’t pull up account numbers on your device as other passengers may see your screen.
Read a travel guidebook
I love travel guidebooks, but I don’t always read them from cover-to-cover before I head out. That’s because I usually have a long flight ahead where I can continue to plan my trip. (I typically only book a hotel for the first night or two, so I can keep my itinerary open to wandering.) I’ve found that Lonely Planet books are the most reliable and realistic, so if I’m going somewhere new, I’ll download the ePub to my iPad or iPhone.
Practice photography from 20,000 feet
It’s not only safer to bring your camera on-board, it’s also more fun. I’ve kicked myself a few times for not having my camera poised to capture sunstreaked mountains or colorful coastlines. Sure, a phone can suffice, but if you own a DSLR, pack it in your carry-on. You might not get National Geographic quality shots from a tiny airplane window, but aerial footage is aerial footage and you’ve already paid for the flight!
Edit your photos
I’m most proud of myself when I return home from a trip with a folder full of edited photos. I force myself to buckle down and edit in my downtime at the hotel, airport, and on the plane. I make sure my Photoshop software is up-to-date on my Macbook and that I’ve got plenty of hard drive space to back-up and save my photos. If you’re not going for pro-level photography and you have WIFI, use Google+ to edit your photos. There are actually quite a few cool settings to give your phone snaps a filmic quality, like the one above.
Plan your next trip
I almost always have the post-vacation blues. Having another trip to look forward to helps with that! Even if you’re still saving money, it can’t hurt to start planning your next weekend getaway or cross-country adventure. Download travel guidebooks for destinations on your bucket list and start dreaming!