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Just Booked Mekong Cruise - Advice For Surviving Flight?


ewizabeff
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We just put the deposit down for a Uniworld vacation to Cambodia and Vietnam over Christmas and New Years next year. Because we booked onboard our Danube cruise, we have 30 days to reconsider and cancel or alter our reservation without penalty. I'm committed to this trip, but my husband is a bit hesitant—mostly because of the long flight. It looks like we'll have to fly for close to 20 hours each way (with a connection in South Korea or Hong Kong).

 

I have no problem on planes, and will probably just read, sleep, watch movies, and listen to podcasts. He is almost never able to sleep on planes, and gets anxiety at the tiniest bit of turbulence.

 

I'm suggesting that he see a doctor and see what types of medications are available - but does anyone else have experience with nervous flyers successfully making it halfway around the world?

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We flew ChicagoJapan-Saigon and returned Bangkok-Saigon-Chicago. We did fly business class thru an online consolidator. If you are willing to send an email address I will forward the info. We also traveled on the river Saigon-Siem Reep. It is a fantastic trip--we did not sail with Uniworld, but the trip was really great. Cambodia was wonderful---a nation I knew little about outside of Pol Pot part of history.

If you can fit business class in the budget, go for it. Most of he lines have flat beds and you can really rest. Knee high compression socks are also a big help on such a long trip. Pat

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We flew ChicagoJapan-Saigon and returned Bangkok-Saigon-Chicago. We did fly business class thru an online consolidator. If you are willing to send an email address I will forward the info. We also traveled on the river Saigon-Siem Reep. It is a fantastic trip--we did not sail with Uniworld, but the trip was really great. Cambodia was wonderful---a nation I knew little about outside of Pol Pot part of history.

If you can fit business class in the budget, go for it. Most of he lines have flat beds and you can really rest. Knee high compression socks are also a big help on such a long trip. Pat

 

DH had the same problem with the length of the flights. Pat has the answer....business class....it's pricey but if you can swing it, it really makes a difference. And the flat beds allow you sleep even if only for a couple of hours. If that's impossible, my son said that when he was flying to and from Afghanistan all the soldiers took Nyquil just after boarding and by the time they finished eating they were sleepy. Of course, if your DH has high blood pressure be sure and run this by the Dr. first.

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We would love to fly business class, but adding that to the cost of this trip might be a bit much. Pat, I'd love if you could forward me any info about saving money on business class air. My emaill address is liz [at] lizgross [dot] net.

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I have been a nervous nelly flyer all my life until my doctor prescribed anti anxiety drugs.. it really helps.. I've flown to South east Asia every year for years and now I am just fine. I also wear ear plugs as i have found any turbulence is less noticeable.

And yes business class does help.. but honestly with the right meds its ok.. I also fine the longer flights are less turbulent as there are more options for flight routes.

WE have also broken up the flights with overnights..

We did the Mekong trip this March and it was awesome by the way.

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All of the advice is spot on. If you can swing business class it makes a huge difference. Our flights are generally 24-28 hours to either North America or Europe. If you can't have an overnight stop on the way at least the business class lounge is a nicer place to wait.

 

Enjoy planning your new trip.

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Certainly if one can afford it or has sufficient FF flights then business class is the way to go and will offer some degree of comfort and rest that is not there with economy. Having said that, I found on several business class trips to the Far East that despite these comforts, it took more than several days to recover from the jet lag especially on the return flight--I think this is unavoidable no matter how you travel. By comparison I usually fly economy to Europe and am not bothered much on these trips by jet lag in either direction.

 

That said, if you are flying economy on your trip for the Mekong cruise I would strongly recommend that you build in a stop en route to break up the trip. When I went to SE Asia for my cruise I had a two-day stopover in Hong Kong before proceeding to Bangkok to join the tour. It was a great help. I should have done the same thing on my return, but didn't and suffered from it.

 

Depending on the airline, there are several places you might make a stop as well as Hong Kong--Japan, Shanghai (where you can visit without a Chinese Visa for 48 hours if you have a confirmed ticket for onward travel), and Seoul.

 

Whatever you do, a Mekong Cruise is a wonderful trip and the long flight is a small price to pay for doing it.

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We are doing this trip in November with Vantage and are flying on Cathy Pacific in premium economy. It is a much better product that United premium economy and when we purchased the up grade from Vantage it was about $850 pp round trip. We fly Ft Myers to JFK to Hong Kong to Saigon. The return is from Hanoi to Hong Kong, JFK, Ft Myers. Go to the Cathy Pacific web site and view the video. Premium economy is a lot better that economy and not as good as business. The trip from Ft Myers to JFK is on Jet Blue.

 

Hope this helps

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Thanks for all the replies, everyone. The more I think about this trip, the more I think we might not be ready for it, both for the long-haul flight and the cost. I added up the cost with everything (flights, visas, cruise, gratuities, optional excursions, non-included meals, airport parking/transportation, etc.) and it's much more than I had imagined—I could take 3 DIY trips to Europe for the same price.

 

I still really want to visit the area, and hopefully we will ... but I think it will be later in life, after I've increased my/our earning power a bit. And THEN we will definitely fly business class :)

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Thanks for all the replies, everyone. The more I think about this trip, the more I think we might not be ready for it, both for the long-haul flight and the cost. I added up the cost with everything (flights, visas, cruise, gratuities, optional excursions, non-included meals, airport parking/transportation, etc.) and it's much more than I had imagined—I could take 3 DIY trips to Europe for the same price.

 

I still really want to visit the area, and hopefully we will ... but I think it will be later in life, after I've increased my/our earning power a bit. And THEN we will definitely fly business class :)

 

Sounds like a plan....only thought I have is do your most strenuous trips first while your legs and knees are still healthy.....you can do the Louvre in a wheelchair but there's no elevator to the Parthenon and you need to walk to see the pyramids!

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Thanks for all the replies, everyone. The more I think about this trip, the more I think we might not be ready for it, both for the long-haul flight and the cost. I added up the cost with everything (flights, visas, cruise, gratuities, optional excursions, non-included meals, airport parking/transportation, etc.) and it's much more than I had imagined—I could take 3 DIY trips to Europe for the same price.

 

I still really want to visit the area, and hopefully we will ... but I think it will be later in life, after I've increased my/our earning power a bit. And THEN we will definitely fly business class :)

 

Aw, too bad... The paradox of whether you should travel when you're young and can tolerate it (but can't afford it), or whether you should wait until you can afford it (but are too old to tolerate it)! Hope you get to go sooner than you think. :)

 

Haven't been to SE Asia yet, but have flown to South Africa and Australia in Business, and there's no way we'd fly to SE Asia without going Business Class as well. Since you're dreading the flights so much, you may be wiser to wait until you feel comfortable spending that much money to go in comfort. For us, flying Business makes for a much more restful experience, and an easier time tolerating the jet lag. It's worth it for us, so we don't feel horrible for the first few days of our vacation.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm glad we had 30 days to think about this. I reworked our budget, and started seriously accumulating some frequent flier miles through credit card promotions, etc. so we will be able to fly business class. We are confirmed to spend the holidays in Cambodia and Vietnam next year. Let the planning begin!

 

:D

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I'm glad we had 30 days to think about this. I reworked our budget, and started seriously accumulating some frequent flier miles through credit card promotions, etc. so we will be able to fly business class. We are confirmed to spend the holidays in Cambodia and Vietnam next year. Let the planning begin!

 

:D

 

You won't be sorry!! :D

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Sounds like a plan....only thought I have is do your most strenuous trips first while your legs and knees are still healthy.....you can do the Louvre in a wheelchair but there's no elevator to the Parthenon and you need to walk to see the pyramids!

 

I totally agree with this advice. ;) We were in our late 40's when we did most of our trips to Europe and I cannot tell you how many times I thought, "OMG, there is NO way we'd be able to do this in another 10-20 yrs.! How are these old people managing?"! Most elderly we saw looked downright exhausted. Do Europe now while you can, then do Asia when you can go with (at least) Premium Economy flights.

Edited by DrivesLikeMario
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One thing I do is look for flights that fly either have a 2-3-2 or 2-4-2 configuration and book emergency exit or bulkhead on the 2 side. There is a lot of 747 and 777 traffic between the US and Asia but look for an A330 or A340. It will save you thousands of dollars (or points).

 

If you plan on using miles to upgrade an economy or executive economy ticket the fare class required to use is such that you are basically going to get a slightly discounted business class fare and be out a couple of hundred thousand points.

 

Look into poor mans biz class and go bulkhead. Also get a script for Ambien and pop a couple after takeoff and dinner service. My wife and I took the longest commercial flight in the world (since discontinued). It was Newark to Singapore on Singapore Airlines. It was 19 hours and 45 minutes non stop. That was long one but we had bulkead on the 2 side and bottle of Ambien.

Edited by Los_Pepes
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Business Class was worth every penny to us in August-September from London and back to RDU. Only trouble is that now I am ready to go again with no fear of discomfort or boredom. We were on American/British Airways. Enjoy your trip!

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I'm glad we had 30 days to think about this. I reworked our budget, and started seriously accumulating some frequent flier miles through credit card promotions, etc. so we will be able to fly business class. We are confirmed to spend the holidays in Cambodia and Vietnam next year. Let the planning begin!

 

:D

 

Glad to hear it!

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I would suggest you try ambien or nyquil before your trip if you think you might need it to fly. I am greatly affected by these and take half doses. Even so I am not fully clear headed until about 24 hours after taking nyquil.

Edited by LostAgain
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For others who are musing about this type of trip, I will second the notion of Premium Economy. Not all of us have gazillions of FF miles, or the bucks for Business Class.

 

We have flown PE to Europe several times, and flew to Bangkok and returned from Singapore last winter on Cathay Pacific, through HK. It was quite comfortable and the service was very pleasant. We lucked out and got bulkhead seats on top of that, which meant we had about 3 feet of space in front of us--highly recommended.

 

PE isn't perfect, you still have to deal with trying to sleep on these flights, and keeping your body going, but this was way better than Coach, believe me, and a decent price as well.

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Business Class was worth every penny to us in August-September from London and back to RDU. Only trouble is that now I am ready to go again with no fear of discomfort or boredom. We were on American/British Airways. Enjoy your trip!

Absolutely!!! We used miles and a companion ticket for our trips to Russia and Buenos Aires. The ability to sleep on one's side is fantastic!

The other benefit is use of the Business Class lounges. We arrived early at LAX and had a light dinner in the lounge and boarded the plane.

The last time we were in Heathrow, they took us and another couple by jitney UNDER all the runways and popped us out at our gate!

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At age 67, I took my wife on a nice mediterranean cruise on Holland America, leaving out of Venice and returning from Barcelona to GSP.

 

Hadn't been to Europe since long before the euro and knew the overnight flight would be a killer cause I have never slept well on a plane.

 

So, I bought a blowup neck pillow, earplugs, blackout sleep mask and disposable booties like painters wear so I wouldn't have to put my shoes on to move around.

 

Went to my doc, said I wanted something to help me sleep and adapt to the time change. He gave me a prescription for 1/2 Milligram Zanax.

 

I took half of one of those for .25 milligrams, and for the first time ever slept on the plane. Going and coming. :)

 

I used to dread the flights to Europe, now with these things I'm far more comfortable and the flight is better.

 

As far as I'm concerned, this is the way to travel.

 

By the way, I am not at all nervous about flying, It's just hard for me to sleep when I am uncomfortable.

 

The pillow helped a surprising amount. The whole setup was more comfortable.

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