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Let’s be honest. Everybody loves going on holiday, but no one relishes the prospect of a long-haul flight. Unfortunately, though, getting to some of the world’s best destinations means spending hours on a plane. There’s just no way around it. However, there are ways you can improve the experience and make the time go a little faster. Here are 10 of the best ways to kill time on a long-haul flight.

1. Watch a film or TV show

This is a tried-and-tested favourite. You can waste hours catching up on the latest movie releases or binge-watching a new TV series on a long-haul flight. Most airlines offer in-flight entertainment, so you’re likely to have a whole library to choose from. But if there’s something specific you fancy watching, download it onto your tablet or laptop before you leave home. There might be Wi-Fi onboard but it might not be reliable or fast enough to steam anything. Just make sure your device is fully charged and remember to pop your headphones in your hand luggage!

2. Read a book

Many of us love curling up with a good book, but it can sometimes be tricky to find the time to sit and read. A long-haul flight offers a great excuse to do just that. Whether it’s a classic novel, the latest thriller or a celebrity autobiography, nothing helps pass the time like an absorbing tale. If you’re travelling light and holidaying with just hand luggage, it’s worth investing in a Kindle. They take up far less room in your bag and weigh less too.

3. Listen to a podcast or audio book

We all love a good story but not everyone’s an avid reader. If you prefer listening to a narrator bring characters to life, opt for an audio book instead. Alternatively, why not listen to a podcast? Whether you’re a fan of comedy, true crime of political satire, there’s a podcast for just about everyone these days. Download some of your favourites onto your phone before getting on the plane.

4. Learn a language

It’s unlikely a long-haul flight will be long enough for you to become fluent in a new language. But you can use the time to practise a few phrases from the country you’re visiting. You’ll get more out of your holiday if you’re able to connect with the locals. So pack a phrase book in your hand luggage, or download a language app like Babbel or Duolingo.

5. Do some work

It seems a shame to begin your holiday thinking about work. But you might as well put all that time in the air to good use – especially if you’re on a business trip. Make the most of the distraction-free environment to get on top of any outstanding tasks. If you get them out the way on the flight, they won’t be playing on your mind while you’re away. If there’s Wi-Fi onboard on the way back, connect to your emails and sort through your inbox – it’ll give you one less thing to do once you’re back in the office.

6. Plan your holiday

Organised folk will probably have their full trip itinerary locked down months in advance. But if you’re a last-minute kinda person, this is a good time to do some holiday planning. Make the most of those hours in the air and research the key sights that you absolutely shouldn’t miss, and figure out which restaurants serve the very best local cuisine. Either bring a guide book on the plane with you – you can probably buy one at the airport – or download some info on your phone or tablet that you can read offline.

7. Do some colouring in

Artsy folk might like to take a colouring book with them on a long-haul flight. Adult colouring books were all the rage a few years ago, so chances are you may have received one as a birthday or Christmas present. If you never got around to filling it in, why not use this free time to do just that? Multiple studies have found that colouring in can reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety, so this is a particularly good activity if you’re a nervous flyer.

8. Play a game

Playing a game’s a failsafe way to keep yourself, and your travel buddies, entertained on a long-haul flight. You can play hundreds of things with just a pack of cards, or a pen and paper – or you can get travel versions of many household favourites. Think travel scrabble, travel yahtzee, travel monopoly, etc. If you’re a video game fan travelling alone, bring along a handheld console. Or you could always opt for a good old-fashion puzzle book. And if you’re really pressed for space in your hand luggage, there’s always I spy!

9. Get some sleep

Let’s face it, we’re all sleep deprived these days. Between work, family and hectic social lives, who manages to fit in eight hours a night? If you’re going on a long-haul flight you may as well use the opportunity to catch some Zs. Some lucky people can sleep almost anywhere, but others find it harder to nod off on a plane. Give yourself the best shot at sleep with a bit of careful planning. Wear comfy clothes and pack a few hand luggage essentials, such as a blanket, travel pillow, eye mask and ear plugs. And, if needs be, you can always treat yourself to something strong from the drinks trolley.

10. Avoid the flight tracker

One thing you don’t want to be doing on a long-haul flight is clock-watching. While there’s something quite cool about being able to see exactly which part of the world you’re currently flying over – and to find out fun facts like the altitude, outside temperature, speed, etc – everyone knows a watched pot never boils. So, as tempting as it may be, try to avoid looking at the moving map in the in-flight entertainment system. It will only make the time pass more slowly.

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And if you have got a long-haul flight coming up, these are our tips for staying healthy.