How to....Survive Long Haul Flights

With my parents traveling to New Zealand this week for the first time I thought I would post a blog with some advice on long haul travel.

Between getting on the plane in New York and landing in Kaitaia, New Zealand they will be travelling for about 24 hours (this includes three flights and two change of planes in San Francisco and Auckland).

For New Zealanders this sort of long haul flight is regarded as just what you do when you live at the bottom of the world and you want to explore the rest of the world. However, for my parents who have never traveled to the Southern Hemisphere,  it is really a new concept to be traveling for so long.

So the advice is really designed for people like my parents who are not familiar with traveling for such a long period of time. I am sure some of you will have your own tips for enjoying long haul travel, so feel free to share them at

Before you Go:

-Drink plenty of water to get well hydrated.

-Eat light meals (don’t want to sit for a long time with a heavy meal digesting).

-Get some exercise the day before (Take a walk).

-Get ear plugs and an eye mask (helps to block out the noise and light and try to get some sleep)

-Pack your toothbrush, small toothpaste (3.4 ounce/100ml or less) and lotion (3.4 ounce/100ml or less) in your carry on (in zip lock bag for security checks).

-Pack a small empty water bottle. Fill it up once you pass security from a water fountain.   

While you are Traveling:

-Feel free to drink some alcohol if it is offered, to help you relax. Alcohol dehydrates you so you need to drink enough water but a little alcohol in moderation can help you relax into your trip.

-Get up and walk around every 4 hours. They let you up on long haul flights to stretch your legs because there is a danger of blood clots if you don’t get up.

 -Move your legs and arms while sitting to help with the circulation.

-Drink lots of water.

-If you feel dehydrated, go to the restroom and cup your hands with some water and breath in the water into your nose. It’s not very comfortable but helps moisturize your nose and throat.

-Don’t overeat.

-Use the bathroom just after the meal has been served and before the trays are collected. If you wait too long, there will be a long line. This means you have to get up and set your tray back down but it’s worth getting in early.

-They dim the cabin lights for ‘night’ after you take off from California. They serve dinner just prior. Try to sleep when they have the lights dim and be awake when they turn the cabin lights back on. They will serve you breakfast before landing in Auckland.

-I find taking Tylenol PM or melatonin just before I want to sleep, does help a bit. But it’s up to how your body processes those things. Most likely, if you’re lucky, you’ll get a few hours of broken and interrupted sleep.

-Take a good book and watch the movies or TV offered on the long-haul flights. Each seat has its own screen so you can choose what you like. Headphones will be free.

-You should have your own pillow and blanket provided by the airplane.  

-Brush your teeth and wash your face often. It does refresh you. You can use the airplane bathroom and/or the bathroom in the airports.

-You may or may not be hungry and find it hard to judge the time you should have been eating based on your old time zone.

-Try to get an idea of the new time zone as you fly.


Now, sit back and relax! 



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