Long distance travel tips

We’re a long way from anywhere in New Zealand, exception for Australia or Fiji. There’s a lot more conferences outside of our region. Travelling 12 hours or more is hard.

When I started travelling long distances I wasn’t very good at it, so I thought I’d share what I learned the hard way.

Before you plan a trip

  • Pick an airline. For me that’s Air New Zealand. Join the loyalty program. Now.

  • Get an airline credit card. As you spend and travel, you’ll start to accrue airline status. There’re two benefits of airline status that matter to me: boarding priority and lounges.

  • Acquire drugs (legally). I can’t sleep naturally in economy seats. So I get prescribed sleeping pills for occasional use while travelling. My doctor confirmed that they do the same thing. Your doctor will also print you a letter stating that they’ve prescribed them. Do check that the drugs aren’t prohibited in your destination country.

  • Check your visa needs. It’s worth looking into this well before you travel.

  • Choose a good seat. I like aisle seats, because I can get up any time I like.

  • Book on $AIRLINE, direct, with your Airline credit card. That way you can control your environment. For example, Air New Zealand premium seats cost a little more, and come with preferred boarding. Book your seat immediately.

Before you go

  • Check in online. I’ve had check-in agents reassign my seat without saying a word. Check in online as soon as you can, to stop someone else getting your coveted seat.

  • Pack carry on if you can. It’s amazing what you can do without.

On the day of departure

  • Go early to the airport. It reduces stress, especially if you live in an area with shitty transport.

  • Go hang out in the lounge. Airline lounges give you Wi-Fi and a place to sit in peace while you wait to board your plane. I’ll go as early as I can, so I can sit in the Koru Lounge, drink a coffee and catch up on work; then I’m not thinking about work stuff on the plane.

  • relax. I’ll have one cup of coffee, so I’m not jittery, and a couple of beers. The goal is not to get drunk on the flight, the goal is to arrive feeling OK. You may not drink coffee or alcohol, and that’s fine.

On the plane

  • Don’t work too much. I like to watch a movie while boarding finishes and takeoff happens, because I often don’t have a great view in aisle seats. Also, laptops aren’t all that feasible in economy.

  • Take drugs. My flights tend to have dinner served around 90 minutes in, so I’ll finish watching the movie with dinner, have a glass of wine and take a sleeping pill. Then choose a random movie.

  • Cocoon up. I’ll put earplugs and eye mask on and rug up under blankets and a hoodie, and sleep for 6-8 hours.

  • Refresh. I’ll drink water and juice with breakfast to rehydrate, and get to the bathroom before landing commences. Airline coffee and tea isn’t great, and I’d rather get espresso based coffee outside the airport.

On arrival

  • Go directly to Immigration. Be polite. If you’re travelling with carry on luggage, then you can stride off to your conference without a backwards glance.


  • Take it easy the first night. Don’t drink too much if that’s your thing. You can take another sleeping pill to crash your body into the timezone that you’re in if you need to.