Itinerary: Madison -> Chicago -> LAX -> Auckland -> Christchurch -> Blenheim
I would provide an exact number of hours but between planes, trains, automobiles, lack of sleep, and time changes, I just lost track.
Phase 1: 2 hours. Driving. Madison –> Chicago O’Hare
Phase 2: 6 hours. Flight #1 from Chicago –> LAX [+ checking bags, security, and waiting time]
Phase 3: 6 hours. Long ass layover in LAX
Phase 4: 13 hours. Flight #2 from LAX –> Auckland
Phase 5: 3 hours. Flight #3 from Auckland –> Christchurch [+ passport control, customs, etc…]
Final Destination = Blenheim, but there’s only one train a day from Christchurch to Blenheim, so we decided to spend a couple days recovering in Christchurch.
Top Tips for Survival
- Buy a first class ticket. Just kidding. There’s much more sense of community in coach.
- Pick your seat as soon as possible – I like the aisle.
- Sleep as much as you can.
- Bring a pillow. Airplane pillows freak me out.
- Wear comfy clothes – layers are key, as are good shoes. [take your shoes off on the plane and get comfy]
- Pack a change of clothes – something even more comfy to change into before the longest flight.
- Get ready for bed – think: brush teeth, wash face, take out contacts, etc… before you board.
- Don’t forget a deck of cards.
- Kindle/iPad – download a couple books. Don’t worry about getting a bunch of movies, as most international flights are equipped with individual screens and PLENTY of TV shows, movies, and games.
- Don’t forget headphones, unless you’re fine with the ones the airline provides.
- Snacks. Long flight + airline food, need I say more?
- Water. And Wine. I know, I know, it will just dehydrate you and everybody tells you not to. But, if it helps put you to sleep, wine not?
- Walk around.
- At the very least, stretch your legs while seated.
- (Bonus: Don’t forget to fill out a customs form before you land, and have your passport & other documents handy)
What to wear?
- Leggings (preferably Spendid)
- Light shirt/sweater
- Jacket (like this)
- Good shoes that are easy to take on and off (I like ankle boots or converse)
I brought an extra pair of leggings and a sweatshirt to change into before the longest flight – that way you’re not wearing the same thing the entire time.
Carry on Essentials
- toothbrush and toothpaste
- contact case and solution
- face wipes
- hand sanitizer
- and like I said before…change of clothes, snacks, and all electronics
Pack your bag so the liquids are easily accessible when you go through security, especially for international flights since you’ll have to go through security more than once. Make sure you can get to your computer, too.
Ideally you can fit everything you will want during the flight into a smaller bag [personal item] that fits easily underneath the seat in front of you. That way you can put your larger carry on bag in the overhead bin and not have to get stuff out of it during the flight.
If you have a long layover, kill time by sitting down to eat at a restaurant. Tell the waiters to take their time bringing the food out. Play cards – cribbage takes a while. And finally, don’t sit too much before a long flight. Walk around, explore the shops, or just stand and stare out a window.
Bon voyage! I survived, you will too.