By the time you board your long-haul flight, you’ve probably already been waiting around for a couple of hours. With your stash of books and magazines starting to look depleted and the batteries of your tech wearing down before you even take off, the prospect of that 24-hour flight to New Zealand may be beginning to resemble a prison sentence.
Fear not, help is at hand!
The first thing to do is check out the in-flight entertainment. Depending on the quality of your airline and the class of seat you're in, this can vary from fuzzy re-runs of ‘The Big Bang Theory' to a wide selection of the latest movie releases, including, hopefully, a few you’ve been dying to see.
These days, most major long-haul operators have personal TV screens installed for their passengers that let you choose what to watch and when - you can even pause the action when you need to stretch your legs.
As well as films, the in-flight entertainment may offer games and music. Take your time to explore what’s on offer; there’s no rush.
Try and sleep
Once you've cherry-picked a film or two, see if you can sleep. Dozing can trim hours off your flight and help you arrive at your destination less frazzled and jet-lagged than if you’ve spent all your time sampling the free booze or chasing arcade glory.
Don't switch off your screen straight away, though: you may find a soothing album or playlist that gets you in the right frame of mind.
To help you nod off, the airline may provide you with an eye mask, but bring one with you if you want to be sure. Another useful sleeping aid is an inflatable neck rest, which will be particularly useful for those not lucky enough to be fully reclined in a first or business class seat.
Move your body
Another thing to do is to get up and have a stroll up and down the aisle. Not only will this break the time up into more manageable sections, but it could help prevent you getting deep vein thrombosis (DVT) from sitting still for too long.
There are also some simple exercises you can do while you’re in your seat to prevent DVT and to make yourself feel more comfortable. These range from pointing and curling your toes to lifting your arms in the air. Most airlines will provide details in their in-flight magazine or other in-flight information.
Travelling with children
If you're having a bad time trying to keep yourself occupied, spare a thought for those travelling with small children. Children usually struggle to sit still for more than five minutes, so a long flight can seem like an eternity for little ones.
True, you may not be in the most charitable mood if your sleep is interrupted by a crying child, but remember to take a deep breath. Even better, see if there's anything you can do to help a put-upon parent, and make things easier on yourself, too. Mum or dad may not need much more than a spare pair of hands to retrieve something from the overhead locker, or somebody to give them the nod when the toilet queue has gone down.
If you're the one travelling with kids, here are a few suggestions that may help.
Check with your airline about hand-luggage for children. If they're allowed to have their own bag, let them choose their favourite toys or books to put in it. Don’t rely on these to keep them entertained for too long, however - make sure your bring some reinforcements. Don’t give them everything at once, but save things up for the moments when their patience is running particularly thin and then introduce a new toy or colouring book.
If your child sleeps better with a particular teddy, make sure you bring it. The ultimate achievement for any parent will be to get your children to sleep at some point on the flight, which will give you a chance, finally, to relax yourself.