How to Stay Busy on a Long Flight to Study Abroad

All of your study abroad preparation has led up to this moment – you’re boarding your flight to your new home for the next few months. You settle in your seat and then…now what? You have hours to spare on an international flight and nothing to do to pass the time.

Never fear, the IES Abroad College Relations & Advising team is here with ways to keep yourself occupied while en route to your study abroad destination. From movies and crosswords to podcasts and more, we think you’ll find these tips make your flight time fly by (pun intended) and will help get you excited for your abroad adventures ahead.


Keep Yourself Entertained with Podcasts, Crosswords & Books

“Podcasts and books are my general go to. I keep crosswords as bookmarks, so that, too.”

 Bob Horan, Student Outreach Coordinator


Write Thank You Notes to Your Study Abroad Supporters

“Pull out your laptop and draft a note of thanks to folks at home – parents, friends, faculty, and others – who supported you in your desire to study or intern abroad. You can e-mail it, text it, or make a video recording that you can send them after you land.”

Gretchen Cook-Anderson, Director of Diversity Recruiting & Advising


Create a Stitch Map

“I love notebooks. A cute idea I use for trips is a ‘stitch map.’ Essentially, I print out a map and put it on the first page of the notebook, then I take a sewing needle and stitch my journey from city to city as I travel. It looks cool, keeps you busy, and isn’t too difficult (believe me, I’m terrible at sewing and can do it). Just double-check that you can bring sewing needles on your flight!”

Chelsea Kuchik, Program Advisor


Bring a Snack & Hydrate

“Bring a large water bottle on the plane and ask the staff to refill that instead of those tiny plastic cups. You’ll still feel exhausted when you arrive, but your body will thank you. Also, it gives you incentive to get up and walk around!”

Nicole Zeimis, Program Advising Manager


Chat with Your Seat Neighbors & Stretch Your Legs

“Get up and walk the aisle at least once. Listen to the people around you. You might be able to make friends who are going to the same city or on the same program. You may also meet someone who is from the city you’re traveling to, and they can give great insider advice.”

Maggie Leimkuehler, Program Advisor


Get Comfortable & Sleep

“Wear a pashmina or similar scarf – it helps if you’re cold, and you can wrap it around your head to keep out light, or scrunch it up and use it as a pillow! Also, bring an external battery, in case your phone dies during the flight.”

Rachel Rice, Regional College Relations Manager


Prepare for Your New Study Abroad Life

“When I go overseas, I usually bring a travel guide and a phrasebook if I’m not familiar with the language. I use time on the flight there to read through the travel guide for my destination, and try to memorize a few key vocabulary words and phrases I may need once I arrive. I always studied best when cramming at the last minute, so for me this practice is super useful and helps pass the time on a long flight.”

Robin Pipkin, Regional College Relations Manager

Thank you, IES Abroad staff!

Now that you know how to keep yourself busy on your international flight to study abroad, how about contacting an IES Abroad Ambassador? They’re recent IES Abroad alumni who can give you the inside scoop on what it’s like to study abroad in your host country.

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