My wife and I are fully vaccinated (YAY!), so last week, we flew to California to visit our family. We spent countless hours on airplanes and, as it happened, none of our flights had wi-fi, which got me thinking about some of the things I do when I’m going to be “off the grid” for a while.

I used to listen to music or watch movies or TV shows on long flights (spoiler alert: these days I prefer to pass the time catching up on my reading), and one thing I learned is that you have to make sure any song, album, podcast, video, audiobook, ebook, or other media files are stored locally on your device.

For example, if you’re an Apple Music (or Spotify or other subscription music service) subscriber, you may have playlists you’d like to enjoy in the sky… but unless your plane has GOOD wi-fi (free or paid), you won’t be able to play them. And even if your plane DOES have wi-fi, some airlines frown on streaming audio over their in-flight wi-fi, and most (if not all) prohibit streaming video and voice/video chatting.

After my most recent trip, I’m sad to report that some (or many) planes still lack functional wi-fi at any price.

Make Sure It’s Stored Locally

The trick is to plan by downloading all songs, movies, tv shows, podcasts, or other media to your iPhone (or another device) before you leave home.

Most Apple apps display a cloud or circle icon with a down-pointing arrow to download media to your device. So, before you leave for the airport, click the appropriate icon to download the media to your device.

Click the appropriate icon to download the song (top), podcast (bottom), or other media to your iDevice.

Now Test It

Now, enable Airplane mode and play one or more of the files. If they work without an internet connection, you’re good to go. If they don’t work, try downloading them again. If you skip this step, don’t blame me when, fifteen minutes into an eight-hour flight, you are left with nothing good to listen to, watch, or read.

Moving right along, I used to save up magazines and books for weeks before a trip so I’d have plenty to read on planes, in waiting lounges, and during other inevitable “down” times.

Free Books and Audiobooks with Libby

These days I read most books on my iPad. And, while I still buy ebooks and audiobooks, I read and listen to more of both with the indescribably delicious Libby app.

Libby lets you “check out” ebooks and audiobooks for 14-21 days from your local library. It’s got all the wonderfulness of a trip to the library, without the trip, physical books, or late charges.

With 110,000+ books and 50,000+ audiobooks, Austin Public Library offers myriad tasty treats to take on the road!

I’ve read hundreds of books in Libby and recommend it without reservation. Plus, if you have both an iPad and an iPhone, you’ll love how it synchronizes reading positions. For example, if I read the first 80 pages of an ebook on my iPad and then launch Libby on my iPhone, it launches right to page 81, so I can pick up reading where I left off on the iPad. Sweet!

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