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Taiwan, June 2, 2006

How I Survive 13 Hour Flights

There is a method to the madness, here I share it

Jets are better than baloons
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I love to travel
As I look out the window of this EVA Airlines flight from LAX to TPE (that's Los Angles and Taipei for those not down with FlyerTalk) and I notice that we are racing across the Pacific faster than the sun - the sun is slowly setting in the east as we get farther ahead of it - I feel compelled to share how I survive my globetrotting flights.

Flights like my twenty-six hours to Vero or the time KLM rocked and Lufthansa didn't.

First and foremost is acceptance of economy class travel. The flight is going to be long, it's going to be boring, the food will be bad, the smell worse, and you will be cramped in a tiny seat next to an armrest hog or incessant talker, and in front of a hyper seat-kicking kid.

You goal now is to escape, free yourself from this worldly pain, find one with a plane of existence that pleases you. Start with these basic steps:

  • Be rested but sleepy when you board the flight. Try to get a midnight departure and be sure to have a good night's sleep the day before. This way, you body will already be ready to sleep a portion of the flight but you will not be cranky from lack of sleep
  • Take good drugs. Tylenol PM is your friend, Ambian, your lover, Valium, a prince. Take half a normal dose, drugs are there to make sure you sleep through the fidgety kid or mid-flight turbulence, not to knock you out cold.
  • Sleep the first 6-8 hours. Take off your shoes, put on the eye mask, and my great love: don noise canceling earphones. I use Sony MDR-NC50 Noise Canceling Headphones, and while they are not cheap, they are amazing a removing the low frequency engine vibrations and high-pitch screams of little kids. Really, its church quiet, perfect for my endless Deep House tracks. Now sit back in your seat, all the way, and count sheep till you wake up for a good night's sleep.
  • Work on your laptop. I am not talking movies here, either. All us cool kids use the hours of uninterrupted and Internet-free time to crank out multi-chapter reports, winning proposal presentations, and of course, extended website entries. If your laptop has little battery life, buy and extra battery and then shut down as many non-essential programs as possible - check your Quick Start Menu for sneaky battery killers.
  • Read a good book You packed a good paperback, right? A thick book with stories tha make you laugh out loud often and giggle constantly. A steel tube zipping through the edges of space is no place for horror, history, or worse, self-help. You are already in economy class, adventure comedy is the best mental upgrade.
  • If you must, watch an in-flight movie. Never know for their quality , or the quality of your viewing experience, in-flight movies can be a good way to escape. Personally, I don't find movies all that worthy when I'm home with a giant flat screen, cranking stereo system, and endless cold beer, so the micro-screen and crap headphones are more annoying than satisfying.
  • Make out shamelessly The Mile High Club is selective. You have to be slick enough to pick up at 40,000 feet, smooth enough to pull your moves in front of her friends and/or family, and crass enough to kiss and grope in the company of annoyed strangers. Sadly, I do not have that level of sluttiness game, but you might.
  • Eat often, drink even more Airline cabins are proven to be drier than the Sahara, I know they're drier than the road to Tombouctou, and your body is dehydrating with every breath. Drink water, juice, and non-caffeine sodas (but NOT booze) as often as you can scam one from the stewardess. Eat each meal offered, even if is its poorly disguised cardboard. You don't need to be hungry in addition to cramped and bored.
  • Stretch every hour Deep vein thrombosis can strike anyone, anytime, sending a blood clot from inactive legs into the brain and really running your trip. While seated, stretch your legs, ankles, toes, tightening your thighs too, often to keep circulation strong. Walk the isles whenever you can, making your tips to the bathroom a circuit of the whole economy section.
  • Last but not least, be happy! You're either starting a great adventure or heading back to your own warm bed and close family after one. Either way, you should be proud that you're one of the relatively few in this world who can afford to fly and have the bravery to do it.

If you've read this far, and take trips this long, welcome to the globetrotters! The few, the proud, the fools who do thirteen hours flights willingly.

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Thanks for the tips Wayan. In a few weeks I'll be on my first trans-atlantic flight to London and was dreading it, but this might just make it bearable. Although I don't think I quite have the game to pull a certain something off either... well, not yet anyways.

nice tips on airtravel. i would add a para about makeup and perfume! as an exercise, you can go to the bathroom like every hour and use lots of makeup. and wash it out and put it on again. it's crazy fun. especially when a long line forms for the bathroom!

ok, the last part has never actually happenned, since i pick the right strategic time for my exercises, like middle of the flight when everyone is asleep.

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