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This post was last updated on April 15th, 2020 at 11:45 am
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Whether you’re a seasoned traveller or flying for the first time, a free-living backpacker headed to your next hostel or a luxury-seeker jetting off on an exclusive holiday, there is no denying that while travelling itself is amazing, airports are incredibly dull.
All that time waiting for your flight, cooped up in a busy and soulless waiting area, where your only distractions are the changing flights time and incredibly expensive shops… It’s not anyone’s idea of fun. So how do you keep yourself from dying of boredom during this weird limbo time?
In this post, we’ll cover five different ways that you can stimulate your mind while you’re waiting for your next flight; read on for inspiration.
1. Play card or board games
One of the best ways to keep your mind occupied and stimulated for hours on end is card or board games.
Whether it’s games like Poker, Rummy, or Crazy Eights, you’d be surprised at how quickly time passes when you’re playing cards. You can play any way you like as well — download an app or head online to play opponents, bring a deck of cards and play your travel buddy, or go solo with Solitaire; the choice is yours.
Playing card games is fantastic for your brain too — after all, you’re constantly having to concentrate, think strategically and make tactical decisions throughout a game to beat your opponent.
And not only will card games keep your mind sharp, but they’ll also prove to be worthwhile if you’re backpacking; someone will often bring out a pack of cards at a hostel, and if you can join in, it’s an easy and fun way to make new friends while you’re travelling.
If you’re travelling with kids then board games might suit you better. There are some brilliant travel board games for kids on the market these days that will be sure to keep the family entertained.
2. Challenge yourself with mental puzzles
If you want to stimulate your brain and stay sharp while you’re waiting for a flight, then challenging yourself with mental puzzles is the perfect activity.
There are all sorts that you can choose from (crosswords, sudokus, brain teasers and word searches, just to name a few) that come in varying difficulty levels, so you can easily find puzzles that suit you. The right puzzle will push you mentally — you’ll have to use your memory, reason and analytical skills to succeed — which is perfect for keeping you busy in a boring airport and exercising your brain.
You can find millions of puzzles online, or pick up a puzzle book from any bookshop (including airport ones).
3. Read (or listen to) a good book
There’s nothing like getting lost in a good book to really stimulate your mind. If it’s written well and has a gripping plot, then you can be transported away from the boring airport you’re sat in and whirled into an exciting new world.
When you’re picking a book (or books) for your trip, aim for one that you’ll find interesting and easy to read, and you’ll find that the time whizzes by much quicker.
And if you’re not really into reading? Why not listen to an audiobook instead? There are tons available, and some are read by incredible actors or the authors themselves.
If you prefer short-form, then give podcasts a listen — there’s something for everyone, from comedy to science to food to feminism, and you can quickly get a feel for the podcast in one episode.
4. Do some planning
If you’re going somewhere completely new, then why not spend your time in the airport researching your destination?
Learning all about the region you’re heading to and planning what you’re going to do while you’re there is a great way to keep your mind stimulated while waiting for a flight. Plus it means that you don’t have to take up valuable time planning while you’re actually there, and you can get out exploring instead!
Planning fun activities, finding amazing restaurants, booking hostels and learning all about your destination of choice is ridiculously easy with the internet at your fingertips, and you can get tons of useful advice and top tips from travel blogs, apps and experts.
And of course, if you fancy a break from your phone, you can always go analogue and read a guidebook to find out more about a country. There’s something very satisfying about rifling through a guide and bookmarking exciting pages. Lonely Planet and The Rough Guide both offer a comprehensive series of travel guides to help with any planning.
5. Learn a language
Really looking for a way to stimulate your brain and challenge yourself when you’re sat waiting for your flight? Try learning a language.
This is the perfect activity if you’re heading to a country that doesn’t speak your language; you can keep yourself occupied while at the airport and learn some useful words and phrases for your trip. Even if you know a bit of the language already, you can always improve and brush up on your listening skills too.
Learning a language isn’t easy — not only are you learning lots of completely new words (and often their genders), but you’re also constructing sentences in a totally different way, and trying to retain this information. Plus, you have to be able to listen to what others are saying in response to you — concentrating hard and interpreting, which is no mean feat. All of this is challenging, but incredibly rewarding if you stick at it.
There are all sorts of ways you can learn a language, but some of the most popular at the moment are language apps where you can follow a course to learn vocab and grammar as well as practise listening and speaking. Of course, Duolingo is one of the most well-known and easiest to use, but there are many awesome (and free) language apps out there that you can download straight to your phone.
Waiting for your flight can often feel tedious, but it doesn’t have to be. Try out some of the ideas above to stimulate your brain and pass the time in boring airports — and you’ll soon find that you’re boarding that plane in no time!