So, I’ve done a fair amount of long-haul travel in my days and I’ve got a trip coming up next week. Thus I thought it would be a good idea to share what I’ve learned and to write this to remind myself of what I have actually learned so that I don’t repeat past mistakes.
If you have a long flight ahead of you, and by long I mean 6h+, then it’s a bad idea to rely on the in-flight entertainment system. It’s BYO.
Why is it a bad idea to rely on the plane’s system? Several reasons.
1. The headphones suck. I once tried watching Guardians of the Galaxy on a flight, got past the prison breakout scene and realised I hadn’t learned any character’s name (except for Groot) or knew why this band of misfits had ended up together. If it’s a loud flight, there’s a chance you won’t be able to hear anything.
2. Limited selection. Ok, they tend to be quite big these days, but they also don’t change their library very often. So if you have multiple flights, and will be travelling back within a week or two, you don’t want to end up feeling like you’ve seen all the interesting things. The last few flights tend to be the worst, and the ones where you get bored most easily.
3. Mass appeal. Not only is the selection somewhat limited, but you’re also not going to see things that are tailored towards your own personal taste. Thousands of people will be using the same system as you, so whoever is responsible for selecting the contents of that library will have to cater to pretty much every single taste there is.
What do I bring? iPod, iPad, notebook, book.
Using two different devices for entertainment means that there’s less of a risk of you running out of battery. They’re both relatively lightweight, have long battery life, and are made to be carried around. I use my iPad for watching movies, playing games, using practical apps, and occasionally for writing if I don’t bring a notebook. The iPod is used for music and audiobooks. With some sound isolating headphones and an audio book, falling asleep is a lot easier than it is with just earplugs.
Notebook – on the plane is usually where I realise I’ve forgotten something. If that’s the case, I prefer being able to write it down on paper. It’s also good for making lists to hype you up about your destination, writing a travel diary, or just for doodling. Doodling is an underestimated pastime when you’re stuck in an enclosed space for half a day.
Book – Buy a pocket book to read. If it’s a short flight, a magazine will do. Your eyes might get tired from looking at a screen for 12 hours, so it’s nice to be able to change to looking at something else. If you’re like me, you might seldom feel like you have the time to read during your everyday life. Now, however, you have plenty of time to kill.
Use a laptop – unless you have to do work on your laptop, there’s a chance using one will be a massive inconvenience to you and the people around you since the tables aren’t designed to fit a laptop on them comfortably. It’s also surprisingly uncomfortable to keep one on your lap for long periods of time when you can’t move properly.
Be the jerk who uses their phone when you’re not supposed to – you’re not special, sunshine. It’s not a rule that applied to Everyone But You. No, your phone can’t take control of the plane, but there is a minor chance that it can interfere with the communications systems. Ever tried having an important conversation with poor reception or really loud background noise? That’s the sort of thing we’re talking about. And you’re also a complete jerk if you make phone calls when people are waiting to leave the plane. The conversation can wait 10 minutes.
Use headphones that leak – I don’t want to hear your fucking latino hip hop, and you don’t want to hear my goddamn power metal. It’s really rude to pester other people with noise, especially if there are people trying to sleep. If I can hear the lyrics to what you’re listening to, it’s too loud. In fact, I might start lip-synching very aggressively right next to your face if you do that to me. This also applies to using any form of video games (on ANY device) with sound, without headphones. Your four year old might appreciate the repetitive sounds of Oh Yeah from Candy Crush, but the rest of the plane will not.