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Surviving Longhaul Flights

The Active Guide To Surviving And Thriving On A Long Flight

Sleeping is key to surviving long-haul flightsOK, so you've got a ticket, and you're all set to start your journey down to New Zealand. We run trips in New Zealand, South America, Europe and the Himalayas, and we often attend events in the USA - and even occasionally make it to Europe as well - so we reckon we’ve learned a thing or two along the way about making flights as pleasant as possible. Here’s our advice…

1. A key to making your flight as painless as possible is to do everything you can to sleep on the flight. If you can (and as certified caffeine junkies, we know it's not always possible), completely avoid tea, coffee, and any caffeinated drinks on the day of your flight. Also, drink lots of water throughout the day, so that you're well hydrated. We DON'T recommend drinking too much water on the flight itself - it's a fine balance between being reasonably hydrated - and asleep! - and being up down to the bathroom all night. No fun.

2. On the subject of sleeping, CONTACT THE AIRLINE ONCE YOU'VE BOOKED YOUR TICKET and make a seating request. The ideal, of course, is an empty four-row block, but you probably won't be able to confirm that very easily these days, especially not before the day of the flight. Many people find a window seat makes it easier to sleep, because it gives you something to lean on. It’s definitely worth knowing where you’re going to sit though, and worth the extra few bucks for the peace of mind you’re not going to end up in the dreaded middle of a three row if you’re on your own.

3. As soon as you board, ask the cabin crew for a spare pillow and blanket. This extra "soft stuff" makes it easier to make yourself a cozy wee nest.

4. DO make the effort to procure a few little things that can help you sleep - a sleeping mask, a set of ear plugs, and possibly a neck pillow. Those things WORK! You can buy all this stuff at the airport before you leave, or you can obtain them at your local chemist for a fraction of the cost. Also, opinions vary on this, but we DO recommend taking a sleeping pill if you are comfortable with that. No-one wants to become dependent on sleeping pills - definitely not a good idea - but next time you're at your doctor's, ask him or her for a very small supply of sleeping pills - say 10. Then, when you're on the flight, take one just before dinner is served. Avoid caffeinated drinks at dinner, eat a moderate dinner with a small amount of water, or wine if you wish - and you'll stand a really good chance of getting 9 hours sleep that night.

5. If you’re not too starving, we encourage you to skip breakfast in the morning, and try to sleep through the breakfast service. Often, if you ask nicely, the cabin crew will let you sleep, and bring you a cup of tea or coffee in a paper cup, just as the aircraft is at "TOD" (Top Of Descent). For HUGE cred points, just casually ask for a "cuppa at TOD please". Works like a charm. The airline wakes everyone up at least two hours before landing, to get through the breakfast service, and that makes sense for the airline. But not for you!

6. On that note, we recommend that you bring some "backup" to the airline's service, just in case. You can generally bring water on board, if you take an empty bottle through airline security, and fill it on the "gate side". You can certainly bring some fruit, maybe a muffin or something - and that way, even if you totally skip breakfast, you'll still have something to tide yourself over - AND you'll get to sleep in (just remember not to carry that food through customs when you land).

7. And further, now we're getting serious - just in case, you might want to bring a laptop, iPad etc. with a couple of movies to watch. This gives you total control over your own entertainment on board, and if the airline has one of these rare - but not non-existent - "technical glitches with the entertainment system", you'll be rocking along to The Muppet Movie while the rest of the passengers are wailing and gnashing their teeth. Kermit singing sounds a lot better than passengers whining :). Of course, if you're flying Air New Zealand, there's no risk of a technical glitch - they've got hands down the best entertainment systems on board! 


Trip Reviews

  •   4.44 out of 5 (from 908 reviews)

    South Island Sampling

    Despite starting the trip with a little rattle and shake (earthquake) the trip was a wonderful experience. We saw so much of the South Island and were able to enjoy the beauty of a sunny day as well as a cloudy one. Greg and Clara were amazing guides and took great care of us.
    Beth Wilson Review Image
    – Georgia, United States
    Manuka, December 2016
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 4983 reviews)

    Amazing Adventure!

    Absolutely the BEST way to experience all the amazing things that New Zealand has to offer! This trip lived up to it's name and truly was an Active Adventure - we hiked, biked and kayaked across the gorgeous South Island.
    Skip the massive tour buses and join Active Adventures to go beyond the major tourist routes!
    Erika Honerkamp Review Image
    – California, United States
    Rimu, December 2017
  •   4.48 out of 5 (from 297 reviews)

    Memorable South Island NZ

    This is one active trip with never a dull moment. We experienced real rain forest rain and snow capped mountains from afar and close up and personal. The contagious energy of the guides created a fun and physically challenging adventure.

    Leslie Horwitz-Beare Review Image
    – Ontario, Canada
    Weka 13-day, February 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 4983 reviews)

    A Fantastic trip

    This is the best way to tour South Island of New Zealand. Enjoy the spectacular views, experience the first hand of back country and meet the physical challenges. With small group of people and two dedicated guides, what else one ask for?
    Sha Ma Review Image
    – Kansas, United States
    Rimu, January 2017
  •   4.60 out of 5 (from 1887 reviews)

    Amazing Trip

    This trip was amazing - the hikes took us to beautiful vistas, the guides were knowledgeable and fun, and the food was never in short supply ("Food is Fuel!" as one of our guides kept restating).

    Koru and Kim were great guides throughout and everyone had so much fun! I was traveling solo but 2 of the other 4 on my trip were as well, so nobody was ever left out! Having such a small group made the activities much easier to enjoy.

    The hikes, like I mentioned, were truly unbelievable, though somewhat more difficult than I expected. Everything was talked as 'full-on' or by time, but know that NZ hikes are up mountains then back down, so work on hills more than distance before you go! Even some of the small walks we did (Blue Pools, only 5 minutes from the road & the Chasm, 10 minutes from the road) were breathtaking. Kayaking the Milford Sound was another once in a lifetime experience we got to have on this trip.

    The only thing I would have liked (and got jokingly by the end of the trip) were straight communication prior to the hikes about how long they were updates mid-hike about how much longer/further. There was one day with miscommunications leading me to think the hike would be another 3+ hours uphill (nearly inducing panic) but was really only 30 more minutes.

    Overall, I really loved this trip!
    Taylor Ceithaml Review Image
    – California, United States
    Tui, November 2016



Why travel with Active Adventures?

Above all, we aim to be amazing hosts. We're proud of our kiwi roots, and our professional, warm and relaxed style of running trips around the world is unforgettable.

We're VERY picky about who we select to work in our team, and we have people from all over the world lining up to guide our trips. So we get to hire the absolute BEST in the business.

As soon as you get off the plane, we've got all the details of your vacation covered – top notch meals, comfortable transport & accommodation, amazing guides and INCREDIBLE service.

Whether you’re new to adventure travel, or you’ve never travelled in a group before, you’ll find yourself arriving home positively different from when you left.

With our small groups (no more than 14), you'll get to know our team, your fellow travellers, and have the flexibility and freedom to do as much (or as little!) as you like.

It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.

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