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Entertainment Ideas for Long Days of Traveling

Shondaland logo Shondaland 1/27/2022 Nylah Burton

Being on a plane or a train for 18 hours is rarely an ideal situation we want to find ourselves in. It can be boring and make us antsy to sit still for so long, and if we’re bringing along children with us, it’s especially difficult for them (and you!). But with enough foresight, you can make sure that you come prepared with everything you might need to keep yourself entertained while traveling. We’ve gathered a list of crafts, podcasts, and kids’ stuff that will have you shaving hours — mentally at least — off your next big journey.

Tackle an arts and craft project

If you have travel anxiety, keeping your hands busy with a craft project like crocheting can be extremely calming. It’s easy to go to the craft store, grab some yarn and a needle, and make a rudimentary project. But if you’re looking for something more advanced, these crochet kits from Lion Brand are an excellent option, especially this Woven Stripes Throw and this Cowl Poncho. Embroidery kits can be a little harder, especially if there’s a lot of jostling. But they’re beautiful, and they also make lovely home decor and patches for jeans. This floral one from Etsy is a lovely option, as is this tote-bag embroidery kit from Heidi Boyd.

Amelia Crochet Kit © Lion Brand Amelia Crochet Kit

$27.98

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Adult coloring books are also relaxing and fun, the perfect thing to hunker down with for a couple hours while traveling. There are ones inspired by tattoos and the 1990s, and this quirky one features dinosaurs that have human jobs, like bank tellers.

Binge movies and TV

Watching movies is definitely a must during long journeys. You’ll have to download them for offline viewing before you go, but the process — whether you’re downloading from Apple TV/iTunes, Amazon Prime, or Netflix — is relatively easy. If you’re looking for ideas of what movies and TV series to download from Netflix, Shondaland has tons suggestions, from TV shows with impeccable costume design to movies about unique friendships to films based on true stories.

If you want to stop people from peering at your computer, privacy screens are an excellent option. Definitely don’t forget a pair of noise-canceling headphones, and bring your cable just in case something happens to your Bluetooth connection. If you’re traveling with someone or just want to account for the possibility of making friends on your trip, try this headphone splitter. It’s under $5, and it’s perfect for people who don’t have wireless headphones or a Bluetooth connection but still want to watch a movie together.

Talk to your neighbor

Not to be that person, but sometimes it really is true what they say: The best part about travel is the people you meet along the way. While this is a nice concept in theory and can play out in making strong connections, it’s still important to be aware of when your seatmate may be done talking. Or else you really will be that person.

Listen to a podcast

Downloading podcasts is also a fun way to pass the time. You’re Wrong About is a podcast that explores people and pop-culture moments that are misunderstood or unfairly judged, from Princess Diana to Stella Liebeck, the woman who sued McDonald’s for coffee that was too hot. Or consider Criminalia, an engrossing true-crime Shondaland Audio podcast hosted by Holly Frey and Maria Trimarchi. For book lovers, Literary Friction is engaging, and it comes with a book list! Spectacle: An Unscripted History of Reality TV is the perfect thing for anyone who’s obsessed with 90 Day Fiancé or The Real Housewives franchise.

Listen Here © Shondaland Listen Here

Write letters


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Everyone enjoys receiving a lovely, thoughtful letter. So take this opportunity to jot down some kind words for your loved ones. It’s a nice gesture that also helps you appreciate the journey you’re on, and it can be a good time for reflection. For stationery sets, Pepin’s vintage maps and floral still-life designs come with gorgeous envelopes and stickers. Pick up stamps when you get to your destination! And before you send your letter, a spritz of your favorite perfume, a wax seal, and a Polaroid picture make for cute extra touches.

Tune into some music

Music is crucial when it comes to traveling. Download your favorite playlists on Spotify, and check out the Insecure Official Playlist, which covers a wide range of music with over 400 songs. Also, think about downloading calming options for sleep or anxiety, like classical music.

Play games

If you have ample table space, games are also an excellent option to make the time fly by. Think games that spark connection and discussion like trivia games and this Hygge conversation game. What Do You Meme? is an amusing option — it’s similar to Cards Against Humanity but with memes. Playing cards are always a classic, and the modern-art touch to this deck is classy.

What Do You Meme? © Amazon What Do You Meme?

$29.99

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Read

There’s nothing better than losing yourself in a good book during a long trip. In a world that offers adults so little time to read, travel can be a precious time to immerse yourself in books that have been on your list forever. Check out this list of books that inspire the love of travel, some of the best books of 2021 (and most anticipated of 2022), or a cozy romance. If you want to bring lots of options without weighing down your bag, consider making this the year that you get a Kindle or another e-reader.

Make a travel journal

Travel notebooks are the perfect thing to work on while you’re en route to your destination or coming back because you have the time to actually get it all done. For travel journals, think something along the lines of a bullet journal. Pick up some colored pens and stencils to give it that sleek look. For the notebook itself, consider these slim and beautiful notebooks from Day Designer. Decorate them with washi tape and Polaroids from your travels.

Slim Notebook Set: Beautiful © Day Designer Slim Notebook Set: Beautiful

$12.00

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Keep kids busy

Long-haul flights are especially hard on squirmy kids, and finding things to entertain them is no small feat. Kindle Kids is a great option for kids who like to read. For your child who likes makeovers, temporary tattoos and press-on nails are little things you both can do together. A Nintendo Switch Lite will keep your little one busy for hours, and, to be honest, you might want to pick one up for yourself. Young kids will also love this Monster Mix & Match Art pack from Kiwi Co, where they can use pencil rubbing to draw their own monster creations.

Nylah Burton is a Chicago-based writer. Follow her on Twitter @yumcoconutmilk.

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