Surviving Longhaul Flights

The Active Guide To Surviving And Thriving On A Long Flight

OK, 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…

long haul flight

Photo by wetravel.com

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

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    Joy Project; New Zealand's North Island

    The Tongariro Crossing was the highlight of my visit of the Northern Island. I felt as though we were trekking on another planet.

    Andrew and Claire shared their extensive knowledge of New Zealand’s culture, land, flora and fauna while offering great music on Dick, the bus and fabulous meals!

    I was asked about traveling to New Zealand alone. I explained I was not alone but traveling with twelve friends I had not met yet. This turned out to be factual.
    Lynn Marie
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    – Michigan, United States
    Kauri, August 2016
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    Kiwi & Active Adventures - Perfect!

    With great anticipation, and admittedly high expectations, Ann and I left New Orleans on Christmas Day to begin our trip to the North Island of New Zealand. We each had long wanted to see this special place! From the moment that Phil and Vanessa picked us up, until the time that Phil and Elder dropped us at the airport for our return flight, we could not have been happier, or more satisfied, with our trip. Phil, Vanessa, and Elder were perfect guides... and hosts. The history and information that Phil shared along the way helped us understand, and therefore appreciate even more, the places we visited and the people we met. We fell in love with the North Island, and its people and history! With Active Adventures having arranged practically everything, and Phil, Vanessa, and Elder taking great care of us along the way (even preparing our last 2 wonderful evening meals), we had nothing to do but rise each morning and enjoy our day! Perfect!
    Thad Minaldi Review Image
    – Louisiana, United States
    Kauri, January 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16212 reviews)

    Whatever the dream, if its New Zealand, find a way!!

    Where do I even start?!?!? NZ has been #1 on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. It wasn't until I realized I couldn't wait forever for that perfect time, to have X amount of money saved, to have a companion to go with me...that I decided to JUST GO ALREADY! And I suggest you do the same! Don't wait another moment. I went alone but found the most wonderful companions I could have ever hoped for! Even got a great roommate. The guides, Claire and Jess were PHENOMENAL! I started crying off and on a few days before the end of the trip because I became that attached to them and knew I would never see them again. Leaving at the airport, I couldn't even speak I was so upset and saying goodbye. So wonderful and beyond knowledgeable! I miss Jess' cooking and Claire's coffee already and I just got back yesterday!!! But seriously folks, the Manuka was beyond what expectations I could have ever dreamed. Yes it was indeed physical, so be ready for that; but there were some flatter, easier options for those that chose to not exert so much energy. There were a couple of times I wanted to just quit, but Claire and/or Jess kept me going saying it would be worth it (for the view AND the accomplishment) and MAN WERE THEY RIGHT!!!

    The food, the company, the knowledge, the laughs, the comradery, the views, the EXPERIENCES....all of it was TOP NOTCH! I have my memories that will last a lifetime; best money I have EVER spent.

    Don't wait! GO! I plan to go back in a couple of years to do the entire Milford Track. That's my only regret is that I didn't spend the extra to do that. But that's on me, not AA!
    June Vidrine Review Image
    – Texas, United States
    Manuka, March 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16212 reviews)

    2017 Manuka Trip with Claire and Jess

    Awesome trip.....
    New Zealand is a beautiful country with plenty of great hikes and sights to see. Jess and Claire were fantastic guides. Would go again in a heartbeat!
    Paul Scopa Review Image
    – Massachusetts, United States
    Manuka, March 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16212 reviews)

    Experience of a Lifetime!

    Active Adventures was an incredible trip. We had two excellent and knowledgeable guides that were a real team and complemented themselves very well--plus the meals they prepared were awesome. They REALLY made our trip special! There were so many new activities for me that I had never done before that I can't even pick a favorite--I loved them all. New Zealand is a beautiful country, and your well thought out itinerary certainly allowed us to see and experience it in unique ways--hiking, cycling, kayaking, wine tasting, etc. Celebrating my 66th birthday with champagne and fresh strawberries after hiking up Searly Tarn trail was a birthday I will truly never forget! Thank you Active Adventures!
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    – Michigan, United States
    Rimu, November 2016

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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.

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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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