How to Survive a Long Plane Ride to Thailand


For over a decade, I’ve been flying backwards and forwards between Thailand and the US, or Thailand and Europe. I used to enjoy flying, but the trips I take to and from Thailand, in recent years, have become flights I hate. Why? Because the flights are too long and the boredom dreadful.

From Bangkok to America’s West Coast is around 17 hours (plus a three hour layover in Japan or Taiwan), and from the West Coast to Bangkok is 19 hours (the head winds make the flights almost two hours longer). But, there are ways to survive and even enjoy a long plane ride to Thailand, if you prepare in advance before leaving. Here are just a few.

Pack Books, Newspapers and Magazines – Packing a good selection of books and magazines is essential if you want to survive a plane ride to Thailand.

In 19 hours, I can read a book, a couple of magazines, and a newspaper so I make sure I have a good selection at hand. Most planes will also have newspapers and magazines available, but they may not always be to your taste, so it’s better to bring your own. Reading passes the time quickly and can even be calming during turbulence.

Use the Plane’s Entertainment System – Most flights to and from Thailand, on most airlines, now have personal entertainment systems. These are the mini TV screens that are mounted on the seat back in front of you, and they are amazing. They usually have a choice of at least 75 movies, 100 TV shows, games, language learning programs, music stations and loads of other things. On most of the long flights I take, I get to watch at least two movies plus a TV show here and there.

Get to Know Your Neighbor – If your neighbor speaks English (and they might not on a flight to Thailand), have a conversation with them. I try not to talk for too long as many people don’t want to be disturbed, but I have met some fascinating people on my travels.

On my last flight from LA to Tokyo, I met a man from Nepal who was going back to his village after more than ten years living in America. It was fascinating talking to him and learning about his life both in the US and Nepal. We talked for about two hours and that really helped to pass the time.

Write Something – I’m a writer, so I always have my laptop with me.  I write letters to family and friends, posts I transfer to Tasty Thailand later, or articles for the numerous magazines I write for.

Walk Around – Don’t forget, to survive a long plane ride healthily you also need to get some exercise. Sitting in a plane seat for 19 hours puts you at danger for blood clots, which do actually kill a few people every year.

So, every couple of hours, get up and walk around the plane for five or ten minutes. You can also do stationary exercises in your seat. These are displayed on a card in the seat pocket or in the in-flight magazine.

Meditate – On long plane flights to avoid getting stressed, I meditate for 30 minutes. With the constant droning of the plane engine it’s actually easy to meditate and especially easy during the times when everyone else is sleeping. Meditating calms you down and can refresh you without the need for sleep.

Sleep – For those of you who can sleep on planes (I can’t), sleeping is a great way to pass time. As long as you don’t sleep too much, sleeping refreshes you and also gets rid of flying or turbulence stress. Try to get a seat that has one or two empty seats next to it and you’ll even be able to lie down to sleep.

Follow these simple tips for surviving a long plane ride to Thailand and you’ll arrive at your destination feeling relaxed and refreshed and ready to explore.