How to survive a long haul flight – runawaykiwi’s top ten tips

The one downside of living in New Zealand, is that it is so damn far away. To get to London, we are talking about 24hours of flying. So by the time you add stopovers and airports you are looking at 30+ hours of travel. Not fun.

These are my top tips for flying that sort of distance. Of course everyone will have their own methods, but have a read and use the ones that make sense to you.


1. No matter how tempting it is (and since they are free, it is very tempting) stay away from alcohol. If you think a hangover is bad when your feet are on the ground, imaging how much worse it is in a pressurised tin can with no space to move.

2. Drink loads of water. Your body clock on this type of travel gets all screwed, so you might not drink as much as you normally do. This can lead to you feeling really crummy, not fun at 27,000feet. My suggestion is to take water every single time the flight attendant offers it, regardless of if you feel like it or not.

3. Take your own earphones – even though the airline will give you some, you never realise how uncomfortable earbuds/headphones are until you have to wear them for 24 hours straight.

4. Take at least one non-electronic form of entertainment for take off and landings. Most airlines make you turn off anything electronic (and generally they don’t start the movies till after takeoff) from when you board until you are in the air. On one occasion in New York this took two hours, well worth buying a magazine or a crossword.

5. Sleeping pills. These have saved my life on long haul flights, travelling by yourself is stressful enough when you are well rested. No sleep for 30+ hours will turn you into a screaming toddler. Find some that work for you, not enough to knock you out just enough to make you drowsy so you can sleep above the clouds.

6. Plan out your time, if you know you have a 13hour flight followed by a 10hour flight you might decide to watch two movies on the first leg and save one for the second. Likewise, if you have a book that you want to read take breaks or the rest of the flight will drag. I also like saving something to look forward to in the second flight, most of the time this is a magazine that I don’t normally buy.

7. Go with the schedule set by the airline. For example when you take the night flight from Auckland to London, the first thing they do is serve you dinner and then two hours later they dim the lights for sleep time. Go with it, eat when they tell you and try and sleep when they tell you.

8. Take an eye mask and neck pillow (the squishy ones are my favourite).

9. Ask if your airline has a snack menu, sometimes they do and they have things like simple sandwiches and fruit (and chocolate bars!).

10. Walk around on your stop over. Even if you just have an hour in between flight, amble round the airport and window shop. You will be tempted to just curl up in a corner and go to sleep, but if you just get moving it will make the second leg a lot easier.

Do you have anything to add to this list? – Email me at or tweet me @runawaykiwi

Author: runawaykiwi

2 thoughts on “How to survive a long haul flight – runawaykiwi’s top ten tips

  1. Great suggestions… I fly to .au from time to time so have built up an internal checklist which is very similar. I especially agree on avoiding alcohol. If you have to drink, just limit it to one with the meal and drink plenty of rehydrating fluids too. I only tried sleeping pills once and it didn’t work for me. It was like a massive hangover times three. And I didn’t get any sleep. My advice instead of drugs is to meditate – It can make a massive difference to your arrival state.

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