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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

  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 4983 reviews)

    Wow! What a trip!

    We had an absolute blast exploring the South Island with two legendary guides, Ken and Elder. Amazing hiking and other activities, great food, and awesome company!
    Jordan Altaras Review Image
    – Washington, United States
    Rimu, April 2017
  •   4.70 out of 5 (from 266 reviews)

    Most awesome!

    What a great adventure with Koru and Jess. This trip met and exceeded my expectations. Plenty of hiking, beautiful views and delicious meals. It ended all too soon. Would recommend this to anyone wanting adventure into the great outdoors of New Zealand.
    Liz Nino Review Image
    – Oregon, United States
    Kiwi, March 2017
  •   4.38 out of 5 (from 1211 reviews)

    North Island - Kauri

    From the first day to the last, I have enjoyed travelling through the North Island with our fantastic guides Jo and Andy. Rain or shine there was always an interesting hike to go to, or a point of view worth stopping at and they know them all. The landscaping of NZ is fabulous in many areas and I liked the fact that we went out of the major tourist attraction points. Andy, excellent driver, is also an encyclopedia of information and such a good narrator he makes the long road trips fill shorter and very pleasant. Jo the mermaid is an excellent cook who enjoyed preparing meals for kings even in restrictive facilities. I enjoyed the fact that we could participate in a good variety of activities as we were hoping to. We felt secure at all times, we learned a lot about the Maori nation and their influence on the actual NZ.
    A very informative and pleasant trip overall, with excellent guides who adapt easily to any group of people or situations they have to deal with. Two tums up, I will definitely recommend this adventure to anyone who enjoys nature and culture out of their comfort zone.
    Claude Remy Review Image
    – Ontario, Canada
    Kauri, December 2017
  •   4.38 out of 5 (from 1211 reviews)


    What an amazing introduction to the North Island. Every day was unique - starting with the hiking and boogie boarding on the sand dunes to seeing a kiwi released was exceptional. Walking through the rain forest and seeing the phenomenal kauri trees are memories we will treasure forever!
    Ben Thorlakson Review Image
    – Alberta, Canada
    Kauri, January 2017
  •   4.64 out of 5 (from 565 reviews)

    I wasn't ready for the trip to end!

    I don't even know where to let's start at the beginning. I spent the last year dreaming about going to New Zealand, trying to talk just one friend into going with me, and finally, with some encouragement from family, booking this trip as a first time solo traveler. And let me be clear- that was the best decision I could have made! I enjoyed every single minute of my trip and wouldn't change the experience of traveling solo for anything. From the moment I met Gary and Mel, I knew that I had made the right decision. They were welcoming, to all, from the moment they met us. Right away I knew I had nothing to worry about, and worry I did prior to the start of the trip. I could not have asked for a better group of travel mates; it was as if you had hand-picked who should be on the trip together. They were amazing! The experiences on the trip would not have been nearly as amazing if it wasn't for these awesome people with whom I had the good fortune to travel.
    Gary and Mel were kind, patient, and so easy to be around. They answered every question a novice like myself asked, without ever making me feel like an idiot. Gary was witty, kept us going, and a super safe driver! ( I am not a big fan of mountain roads with cliffs on the edge that lead to instant death and not once did I fear for my life.) Mel's cooking...holy smokes was it good; so much so that the pounds I was so sure I would lose on the trip didn't happen. She has even inspired me to try to cook a couple of her dishes this winter. She made it look so easy, even with the varied diets of the group. I thoroughly enjoyed the time I had chatting with both Gary and Mel wherever we were: on the bus, hiking, eating or playing cards. They brought us all together.
    Now, for the adventures! Every day was different from the day prior. I saw and experienced so many new things that I can't stop talking about it. I loved the really challenging hikes (Sealy Tarns and Alex Knob) and the slower paced treks through the rain forest and valleys. The night sky at Mt. Aspiring Hut is indescribable! While we were unable to go on the second overnight hike due to weather, Gary and Mel didn't miss a beat. We were so busy and had so much fun, even in the rain, that you would never have known that we were doing almost 3 days of alternate activities. Major kudos to them for this! I could keep going on how much I enjoyed every aspect of my trip. This was the first vacation I have been on where I didn't want it to end and it truly was the trip of a lifetime. I can't wait to book my next trip with Active Adventures!
    Melissa Munno Review Image
    – California, United States
    Winter Rimu, August 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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