7 Gifts for Long Flights

July 17, 2013    |    By +
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gifts for overseas flightsAirplanes are not even close to being comfortable for 2 hours, let alone for 5 or more. As a frequent flier myself, I have taken many trips that extend beyond the battery life of my phone to far off places like China, Europe and California. When someone is trapped in a tin can for that long they need some back up support to keep from going crazy. If you, or anyone you know, are planning an epic summer holiday or a coast to coast business trip, then I have some tips and gadgets that will make their flight feel more like vacation than torture.

The first rule to remember is that on the plane, the rules on the ground don’t apply. Why? Because some things just don’t work out the same way for 10 hours at 35,000 feet. I’m talking about your tech devices, your fashion sense and your cures for boredom. Read on for the gifts that will make your jet-setter’s next trip a breeze.

Be A Dork!

This is no time to put style ahead of comfort. Here are a few lifesaving dorky ideas.

Inflatable pillow & Sleeping Mask (earplugs too if you dare)

Sleeping is the ultimate way to waste time on a long flight if you can make it happen. Sure, you lose major cool points by blowing up a pillow and using it on the airplane but you won’t care when you’re the only one who arrives refreshed. Inflatable travel pillows fold up flat when deflated so you can save face until the last possible moment. Then, slip the black-out sleeping mask on before you catch any judge-y looks.


As uncool as compression socks are, they make your legs feel great on an airplane when your legs are cramped up for extended periods of time. They also help keep your tootsies nice and warm when they really crank up the air mid-flight. Nike dri-fit compression socks come in fun colors but there are more traditional looking types that could potentially match your outfit, too. Post-flight, these are great for running or hiking in cooler weather.

Airplane Exercises

Talk about dorky! But, airplane exercises will make you feel so much better when you get to your destination. Even if you only fit in one exercise every couple of hours it will help. I found this great article on CNN Travel for 18 yoga poses you can do on an airplane.

Electric Entertainment

We would all have minor heart attacks if our mobile devices were taken away from us, but on the plane battery power is seriously limited. To make the most of your flight with tech, try out one of these options.

Tablet and Battery extender

A handy touch screen can be a best friend on any flight. Pre-load it with movies, TV shows, books and magazines to fill up time in the air. But, battery power will undoubtedly run out well before touchdown. Bummer. I found these colorful travel gadget chargers that act as a complete charge for any device when you’re away from an outlet. So, they basically double the battery life of any device. Say “hello” to TV marathon pt2. Don’t forget to charge this up the night before leaving and put it in the carry-on! The classic Kindle  will also last much, much longer if you know you’ll just be doing a lot of reading.

Comfortable headphones

Even the best headphones can start to hurt after a few hours of wear, so it’s worth it to splurge here. While you’re at it, get some that are noise-cancelling so that neighbors can enjoy their own flight experience. I’ve heard that the Bose Quiet Comfort Headphones are the ultimate travel headphones because they’re soft on the ears, have great sound, and are extremely respectful of neighbors.

Analog Entertainment

Although the screen is calling, there comes a time when the battery is really, really dead and the in-flight entertainment is no longer entertaining. Enter some analog entertainment.

Trivia Game

Whether alone or with a travel buddy passengers on a long flight need something to help pass the time that isn’t screen related. Good old fashioned trivia will get the job done! The Kwizniac deck $20 serves up 10 clues that help the quizee determine the answer. They’re trickier than you might think, but by clue #10, the answer will be pretty obvious or a fun surprise.

Playing cards & card game book

When trivia starts to feel like work, change the pace and try a new card game. Playing cards pack easily in a carry-on and with Hoyle’s Modern Encyclopedia of Card Games $11 there are endless options to play alone or with multiple players. All of the rules are right there so it’s super easy to try out hundreds of games without having to bring more than these 2 things. I actually never go on vacation with packing a deck of cards because they provide so many options without taking up space.

Print Magazines

While waiting for take-off on the tarmac, no passenger wants to use up their battery so they opt to flip through a good old fashioned magazine or two. These can be picked up at the airport and left in the seat pocket for the next traveler, which makes them the easiest to pack accessory around. My personal favorites are something like Life & Style  or US Weekly. See our celebrity gossip magazine review to help pick your gossip mag of choice.

And just for fun, I found this article 10 Urban Legends About Flying That Aren’t True on Huffington Post that should entertain you and make you feel better about flying.

See my complete list of long-flight travel essentials and all of our favorite travel gift picks  for more inspiration.

Long Flight Gifts

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Meet the Gurus

Kathryn D.W.
Kathryn Drury Wagner is the senior manager of content at Gifts.com. She was formerly the executive editor at Honolulu Magazine, and is the author of The Ultimate Guide to Shopping on Oahu. Her career has included staff positions at Country Living Gardener and Power & Motoryacht. Her latest book is "Hawaii's Strangest, Ickiest, Wildest Book Ever!"

Gwen P.
Gwen is the Editorial Curator at Gifts.com. In addition to writing blogs, she creates gift guides, curates the site, and produces content for our social media channels. As a freelance writer, she created blogs on fashion, art, travel, health and lifestyle. A talented jewelry designer, she's also a yogi and a hospital volunteer with her therapy dog, Lilo, a Pomeranian.