7 ways to keep yourself entertained during travel

One of the most stressful parts of travel for some people is the actual getting to and from their destination. While the thought of discovering new places is exciting the thought of 6, 8, 10 or more hours in a plane certainly isn't. However, with a little planning you can help pass the time a lot more pleasantly. Keep in mind these are just a few suggestions - feel free to add to our list or create your own.



Taking a few minutes to think about what you might want to do to pass the time happily and preparing will go a long way. Also keep in mind that no matter how many gadgets or accessories you have with you - comfort impacts your journey the most. Be sure to take into consideration your personal preferences. If you're typically cold, bring a sweater or small blanket. If your temperature tends toward the hot side, wear layers that are easily taken off and put on, a great idea for adjusting your comfort level when traveling. Pillows of all sorts and sizes also add to your relaxation. Make sure your clothing is loose and comfortable, including your shoes.


1. READING. Whether you have an e-reader for books and magazines or prefer the real thing, make sure you have several options to read. We always take at least one "easy" read just for an escape - popular novels, crime dramas, westerns, romance - pick your guilty pleasure. Gossip or celebrity magazines are also fun and easy to read in bite-sized chunks. Sometimes you might want the latest business or other non-fiction book to occupy your time. These also great if I can't fall asleep. Nothing like reading the latest theories on Internet search algorithms to help us doze off. Travel, cooking, hobbies, fashion - there's a magazine for just about every interest. There are also books to suit your taste and time commitment. If you feel like taking a deep dive, choose something meaty or a piece of classic literature. If you want to be able to float in and out, current fiction, self-improvement, or sci-fi can work. Just make sure you have a good variety to choose from so you can satisfy whatever you may be in the mood for reading.



2. VIDEOS & MORE. Depending on what devices you prefer to carry with you, the options here are just about limitless. If you are a frequent flier chances are you can no longer count on the movies that airlines so kindly provide. Either you've seen them or they tend to lean toward the family friendly, which is nice but not always that entertaining. Be sure to download enough to more than cover the time of your trip there and back. We've found that renting movies on iTunes is a cost-effective way to see some newer movies. Of course, there are also TV shows to download. If you're like us, watching back to back Bones or West Wing episodes can keep you entertained for hours and hours. We're also huge fans of podcasts. This is another great opportunity to learn something new or catch up on information you've been missing. If you haven't checked out iTunesU do so! There's a wealth of information, most of it free, from major universities like Harvard, MIT and Stanford using esteemed professors teaching art history, languages, history, math, business theories - all just a download away.



3. GAMES. Some of us can spend hours upon hours trying to beat our highest scores at Bejeweled, Angry Birds, Scrabble or the million other games available at our finger tips. Again making sure you have several of your favorite games available will help the time fly.  For those of us unable to do just one thing, if you're flying, notice that many airlines now have trivia games on their in-flight entertainment systems. It can be great fun knowing that you're smarter than the guy sitting in seat 14B, and not just because you have an aisle seat and he's in the middle. And, don't forget that some non-digital games can still provide hours of fun. A deck of playing cards is fun whether you are alone or traveling with a companion. A mini-battleship board, traveling versions of chess, checkers or backgammon, and other classic games can provide a way to pass the time pleasurably with your seat neighbor. You can also mix it up a bit between playing by yourself or with a friend, adding a little variety.


4. MUSIC AND AUDIO. Depending on your favorite traveling devices you may wish to bring your entire music collection with you, which is wonderful. However, if you're like most of us, no matter how much you love Joni Mitchell you may just want to listen to something different after a while. Be sure to download something new to satisfy your curiosity. If you're more of a spoken word listener, an audio book can help the time pass quickly. Or audio programs of information, news and special interest can work well for you too. If you're flying, the in-flight audio choices can be pretty robust on some airlines. Be sure to check online before you travel to see what "entertainment amenities" come along with your seat. As we've mentioned before, a good pair of sound canceling head phones makes the whole traveling experience a lot more palatable.  



5. RELAX/SLEEP.  With all our emphasis on entertaining ourselves, we often ignore the fact that something we rarely get enough of on these busy days is sleep. This travel time may be the chance for you to do a little catching up. Everyone has their own strategy on this front and it may start with your seat selection. Lots of folks like the window seat so they can create their own "cocoon," have a wall to lean on and not be disturbed by a fellow passenger getting up. Some prefer the aisle seat because we like to be able to get up when we want to and not worry about it. You figure out what works best for you. When trying to catch a few z's, noise-canceling head phones or ear plugs can help block out most unwanted sounds. A good eye-mask also helps eliminate the issue of those who like to have their reading light on all night or, even better, the guy who must leave his window shade open to usher in the sunlight even though it's the middle of the night in your mind. Buses, trains, all forms of transportation have their challenges to restfulness. Here's where having your own blanket and pillow will help to make your rest a lot more comfortable. If you add to that soft music or sounds of the rain, surf or birds, you create a peaceful mood to easily fall asleep no matter what form of transportation you're using.


6. WRITE A LETTER OR CARDS. There's rarely enough time to write thank you notes, letters or cards to people we've been thinking about. A handwritten personal note is a wonderful way to brighten someone's day and let them know you care. You can pick up some cards in the airport or better yet, you can take the stationery and postcards from the hotel you just stayed at during your travels and use them. Be sure to take the pen as well - for some reason these little devils always disappear in your purse or backpack. Write a note, send a card, just to say hi. Mail it as soon as you get off the train, plane, bus, boat or whatnot.



7. GET ORGANIZED. Since you have some time to yourself, why not use it to write down your to-do list. This could be what you need to do when you get to your destination or what you need to do when you return.  If you have your laptop or tablet device use it for this as well.  Some people like to get actual work done when flying or riding on a train or bus. You'll have to decide if this is practical for you. If you're on a really long trip, you may be able to parse out your time so that you get some work done, watch a movie and get some sleep as well. Us multi-taskers are great at doing this so long as we are prepared for all the options.


Last but not least - don't forget to charge all of your travel gadgets before you leave. Nothing is more frustrating than realizing you have 3 more hours in a plane and your device is dead. Be prepared and have some old school reading material at your disposal so you'll always have something to keep you entertained. We hope that we've given you a few ideas here to make your travel experience more enjoyable, relaxing, and entertaining. If you have any other ideas to keep yourself entertained on your travels that have worked for you, please let us know!


If you're looking for other ideas on how to make your traveling a bit smoother check out 10 things to make your next trip easier.