The main problem flying to the other side of the world is the time difference. It is 11 to 19 hours different depending on the time zones in Asia Pacific you end up in (for example Eastern Standard Time to New Zealand time is up to 19 hours difference). This difference is what causes that good old "Jet Lag" for most people. Top this off with being cooped up in an airplane for 12 hours or more and this can really wreck havoc physically and mentally for the first few days or up to a week on us average humans.
So here are my personal strategies for surviving long flights. Flights from most of U.S. cities will take any where from 10 to 16 hours depending on were you are departing from and then arriving to. To Sleep or not to Sleep, this is the question. To answer this question I first determine what time of day will I be arriving to my destination. If I am arriving in the afternoon or evening then I will try not to sleep at all on the flight over so I can basically force myself into the normal day-night sleep patterns there. For example most flights to Japan arrive in the afternoon/evening, so by the time I get to the hotel, get settled in and get something to eat I am then ready to sleep, really ready. The hard part is depriving yourself of sleep on the plane and then all the way to the hotel. One thing I do is watch a few foriegn movies with subtitles; if the movie is good then reading the subtitles keeps me engaged and awake.
The opposite is true for my sleep strategy if I am arriving in the morning (for example to destinations like Hong Kong, Singapore or Australia) I will try to get all the sleep I can on the flight over so that I will basically wake up around the time of descending and it is like waking up at the normal morning hours of the destination, Get it? These techniques help me to adjust much quicker to the time difference and get (some what) normal sleep sooner. In my next posting I'll cover part 2 of surviving long flights where I'll cover tips for sleeping on airplanes and tips for avoiding stiffness/soreness and other health risk common with long flights.