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Let me start by saying one thing: If I can do this, you can, too.
When I lived in China and travelled home three times a year, making a 14-hour trek from Beijing to the District of Columbia, people would say, "Oh, I could never do that kind of trip."
They're wrong. If I - a fidgety person who needs a body-space-buffer most of the time - can do it, you can do it. And the payoff is that if you can survive a long-haul flight, whether it's from Los Angeles to Sydney or Hong Kong to New York, you have just expanded your world.
This is not really intended for those who travel business or first class, those lucky ones who can pretend they're curling up in the comfort of their living rooms, where the only downside is a little boredom and the wrong kind of chardonnay on the menu. No, this is for the humble masses, those who figure a cheaper flight is worth the reward of waking up in a place where breakfast might be spicy Asian rice noodles or where the smells might be an Australian eucalyptus tree.
You just need to keep a few tips in mind: 1. Choose your seat wisely. Most of the time, an aisle seat is best, even if you think you might want to sleep. Sleep on planes is overrated. Even in comfortable seats, you won't be sleeping as much as you want. An aisle seat gives you the luxury of being able to pop up to stretch your legs. Of course, if this is an overnight and you want to be fresh when you land, a window seat and a good pillow might be better - if you promise yourself you'll still move around. Deep vein thrombosis is real.
2. If you do end up with a window or the dreaded middle seat, remember this: You have the right to move. This means you must be brave enough to ask the person in the aisle seat to get up whenever you want, even if he is asleep. I learned this once the hard way when a guy in the aisle seat announced that he hadn't slept in two days, popped an Ambien, and then became an unyielding wall between me and freedom.