Please return your seatbacks and tray tables to their upright positions…

My recent trip to China has changed my impressions of intercontinental travel. My first journey to China a few years ago was a maddening battle with time. For those without the experience, 13-16 hours of plane travel is truly stifling. Trying to sleep in the confines of a coach seat is fruitless as you constantly adjust your blanket to compensate for the dramatic sinusoidal temperature shifts. During that first trip I checked my watch with neurotic frequency and watched with baited breath as the plane icon on the screen moved pixel by pixel across the virtual globe.

Jump ahead to my recent return flight, which despite being packed with every toddler in China*, really wasn’t so bad. I think much of the stresses associated with travel are related to tackling the unknown foreign soil. While customs, language barriers, and local transportation are intimidating, if you can set aside all your concerns with the unknown the travel gets a heck of a lot easier. In fact, I dare say it was enjoyable to have 13 hours to myself for reading and resting.

Ear plugs are a must though. An absolute must.

*How many toddlers are in china? How loud would it be if you could fit all of them on a plane?
Read more in today’s feature.

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