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Up, up and away

Check that your documents and passport are where you think they are.

The day has arrived. All the organising, arranging, planning, research of the past months, it can feel like forever, has been leading up to this day and now you wonder; ‘what on earth am I doing?’

Relax, remember your ‘wishlist’ and the reasons why you are doing this. Think ahead to the excitement of new sights, sounds, smells, people, experiences, memories and smile. You’ve done the homework now it’s time to sit back and relax a little.

Check with the airport to see if your flight is still on time.

Say the last farewells. Not good byes, who knows, you may see each other again sooner than you think. Then it’s on to the airport, checking in, boarding the airplane, making yourself comfortably and enjoying the ride.

Long flights can be made more comfortable by following a few simple tips from seasoned travelers;

It’s a good idea to move around as much as possible when flying. Try to get up roughly every two hours and go for a little walk and stand for a while. Also try and do some in-flight leg exercises. This will improve the blood flow in your legs which, in turn, will not only help to reduce the chance of developing DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) but you will also feel a lot better at the end of the flight.

Avoid alcohol during the flight. Alcohol tends to have a dehydrating effect and reduces the oxygen carrying ability of your blood. As a result the negative effects far outweigh any imagined benefit an alcoholic beverage might offer. Also avoid caffeinated (including coffee and tea) and/or fizzy drinks. Stick to water, lots of it, and plain fruit juices. If possible buy a bottle of water before boarding and take regular sips. Do not wait until you feel thirsty before taking a drink, thirst is your body’s way of telling you it has already begun to dehydrate.

Commercial airlines have very low humidity in the cabin which will tend to dry your lips, throat, nose and eyes. Sipping water regularly will keep your throat from getting dry and lip balm will help for your lips. It is a good idea to avoid wearing contact lenses rather wear spectacles, take eye drops along and use them regularly. A saline nose spray, used whenever your nostrils begin to feel dry or prickly, will keep your nose and sinuses feeling comfortable.

Pack a toothbrush and a small amount of toothpaste in a tub to help you freshen up when you need a boost.

WetOnes or wet wipes are one of the best inventions ever. They are pre-moistened anti-bacterial towelettes which are absolutely amazing at freshening your face, the back of your neck and your hands.

Dress comfortably! Wear comfortable loose fitting, light clothes, layered in case you get too hot or too cold. Avoid extra buttons and zippers as they can become uncomfortable when you have been sitting on them for a couple of hours.

Comfortable shoes that are easy to take off and put on are a must as is a pair of socks. If you experiencing any swelling in your feet and ankles tight shoes will be very uncomfortable so sport your socks while you do your foot exercises or your short walks in the aisle.

Just a word of caution though DO NOT go to the toilet in your socks, put your shoes on. The cabin crew work very hard to maintain the toilets in a clean and sanitary state but accidents happen and you do not want those little splashes on the toilet floor to wet your feet and dampen your sense of comfort regardless of what they might be from.

Carry some healthy snacks with you and do not board the flight on an empty stomach. Again avoid too much sugar.

Pack your own neck pillow, inflatable ones fold up really small. If you are not using it to sleep place it between your lower back and the seat. This helps to ease back soreness and with an inflatable pillow you can easily adjust the amount of support.

Pack in breath mint or chewing gum. They freshen your mouth and breath and will help your ears adjust to changing air pressure during take-off and landing.

Bring your own headphones. The headphones available on the plane (whether for purchase or for free) are usually of poor quality. Noise-canceling headphones and in-ear headphones are a better choice and can help block out engine and passenger noise. If you want to use your headphones to plug into the inflight entertainment check with your airline that the plug will fit as some airlines use proprietary plugs.

Remember to confirm with your airline what liquids and/or gels, in what quantities and in what containers, are permitted in your hand luggage.

Shortly before landing in New Zealand, the cabin crew will hand Immigration Control forms to each passenger. One of the forms is a questionnaire for Customs and Biosecurity on which you will have to declare what foodstuffs you are carrying with you, whether you have been to a farm recently or some specific part of the world with a known health problem. You will also need to indicate how much cash money you are bringing into New Zealand. It is extremely important to answer these questions accurately and honestly. If you have food or foodstuffs in your luggage, say so on the form and do not be tempted to take any food from the plane when disembarking.

As with many aspects of life our attitude and frame of mind can make experiences pleasant or otherwise. See the flight as the true start of your new life as part of the adventure no matter how seasoned a traveler you are. Do not keep looking at the time, just sit back, relax and enjoy the sensations and if the flight is 10 minutes behind schedule so what? No amount of stressing will make it fly any faster so rather take the time to relax and read another chapter of your book.