The best places to fly long haul
Thinking of winter sun but can't bear the idea of long haul? Think again lady - get ready to have your preconceptions dispelled with your expert tips on where, how and why
The flights are too long to contemplate long haul
If your heart is set on a 2 hour European flight, long haul will never compete. But long-haul can mean a 8 hour flight to Kenya, or a 14 hour flight to South Africa – it doesn’t have to be a round-the-world trip. Night-time flights can be an ideal way to reduce the pain – you wake up in the morning and you’re at your destination. BA and Virgin are particularly good options for overnight flight times.
The price of a long haul holiday is too high
Flights are a large part of the cost for obvious reasons but, truly, there are ways to make it less painful. Many travel agents can book your seats wel in advance at a guaranteed price, and you can then book whenever you’re ready. Check the aeroplane you’re set to fly on – it might be an Airbus 380 (very quiet for kids) or a plane with improved air filtration, which is a massive advantage on long flights.
Other tricks of the trade worth knowing – fly out in economy and home in business class (you’ll be taxed on the outbound flight price); look at Premium Economy for improved seating at a minimal price increase; and book Qatar and Emirates airlines for the best connections through the Middle East.
Best flights for down under
For flights right around the world, don’t forget going via LA takes 40 less minutes than the other direction (every little helps!). Air New Zealand’s Business class is as good as many other airline’s First Class but if that’s not where your budget lies, Air NZ have also introduced the Skycouch ‘Cuddle Class’ – the closest thing to a lie-flat bed available to economy-class passengers that converts three economy class seats into a “couch” by retracting the armrests and raising the footrests. Two adults can purchase a third seat at half-price, creating a space they can lie down. Bliss right there.
Travel agents make my holiday more expensive
The opposite is true. Independent travel companies have to compete directly with online and DIY travel bookers, so the reality is the ones still in business post-Covid can’t survive without brilliant prices and service. The flight searches and accommodation deals these guys can offer would take us customers forever to research.
Safari is for older kids so I’ll wait
It used to be that only children 6+ could go on safari, but now children of any age are able to come along. Depending on what you’re seeing, under 6s might not be allowed in the vehicle (tantrums next to the lions not being a great idea!) but they can be part of the safari process – there are now rangers trained specifically with children in mind.
For smaller children or families who want a very comfortable, luxurious safari experience, South Africa is a great starting point. It’s malaria free, there’s no jetlag, and you don’t compromise on comfort with large suites, private decks, swimming pools, good food and wine.
Game reserves like the 54,000 acre Kwandwe Private Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape (above) offer up the Big Five (elephant, lion, buffalo, leopard and black and white rhino) but importantly for children you’re not forced to see the game very early in the morning. When you want to go out on a game drive, you call your driver. So it’s a very relaxed way to safari as a family.
Safari is out of my budget
Safari prices can scare on first look but think of them as all-inclusive because that’s what they are – your food and drink, accommodation, day trips and cultural experiences are in one price. Also, you can save money by playing it smart. Sometimes the lure of the big name areas like Kruger or Sabi Sands or mean you’ll be sharing the plain with dozens of other vehicles – it might not feel very authentic. It can be 20-30% cheaper to opt for a private concession area such as the Naboisho Conservancy (bordering the Masai Mara reserve, pictured above) – without a well known destination name tag such as Kruger – but still teaming with animals. You’ll probably be ‘safaried-out’ after 3-4 days so factor in a beach break into your trip at the beginning so you can unwind before heading off to see the wildlife.
Long haul means 24 hours of pain
‘Long haul’ doesn’t have to be painful. 6 hrs 55 will you to Dubai, then it’s 7 hours to New York, 8 hours to Barbados, 10.5 hours to Sri Lanka, 13 hours to Thailand. If you fly overnight you’ll barely know you traveled at all!
Long haul destinations you might not have considered…
Cambodia and Laos are both beautiful, culturally rich destinations that are increasingly popular. Try Mozambique, where you can sail the lost islands in a dan, catch fish, sleep on the deck of the boat and have an authentically ‘local’ experience before enjoying some luxury in a lodge. Or even more remote, the British Virgin Islands – another sail and stay option. Borneo, Sri Lanka and Thailand are also incredible destinations that are well worth discovery as a family whether you feel like being adventurous, prefer to fly and flop on the beach, or do a bit of both!