Staying entertained during holiday travel

Going home for the holidays usually involves a lot of waiting around. Whether at the gate or on the plane, it's important to fend off boredom. Having tech with you during a flight means portable entertainment and productivity, giving you the chance to sit back and relax or get things done.

The 10,000-foot rule

As of September 2013, most airlines allow the use of smartphones and cell phones only during the boarding process or while passengers deplane. At altitudes of 10,000 feet or higher and with the permission of the flight crew, you may be permitted to use your laptop, camera, tablet device or media player. Some aircraft provide in-flight Wi-Fi access through special network connections that don't interfere with onboard avionics.

Plan ahead

Long flights can provide opportunities to catch up on work or enjoy an entertaining diversion. In some cases, however, you may need a fallback in addition to the work or fun you planned. As Warren Chang, vice president and general manager of Fly.com points out, "I sometimes can't even open my laptop all the way when the person in front of me has reclined his or her seat." He plans ahead to assure that he can enjoy what he listens to or watches. "For entertainment, having a good set of headphones is key," he says, "to block out the background noise and to clearly hear the music or dialog from the entertainment system."

Choosing activities

Some people pass flight time with greater ease when they keep themselves occupied. If you know that work keeps you engrossed more readily than amusements, plan accordingly. Bryan Batten, founder of eReatah, an e-book subscription service, tries to "tear through my never-ending 'to-do' list when in flight. On the flip side, sometimes it is time to turn off the productivity switch," in favor of his favorite entertainment.

Books & magazines

Batten welcomes the chance to catch up on his reading in the air. "Nothing is better than starting and finishing a book on a cross country flight," he says. Load your tablet device with e-books and digital magazines before you leave home, choosing holiday-themed reading material to really get you into the spirit.

Music & movies

Your laptop, tablet or media player can offer hours of entertainment. To keep from loading yourself down needlessly, avoid bringing DVDs and other media along. Instead, preload your movies, TV series episodes and albums onto your devices. Many flights include outlets so you can charge your entertainment technology and laptop computers, but an extra battery can make a useful addition to your carry-on bag.

Avoiding device loss

Both Chang and Batten know that entertainment devices can't help you pass the time if you leave one behind on the plane. Chang puts his gadgets in the seat pocket in front of him, especially his phone, "as I'm one of those people who check their phones immediately upon landing." After losing a few tablet devices, Batten keeps his on his lap when his flight goes below 10,000 feet so when he stands up to deplane, he feels it and puts it in his bag. That way he makes it home for the holidays in a jolly mood.

Photo Credits: Demand Media/studioD

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