Three days from now, I will be making my first trip to Asia, going on World Spree's 12-Day Amazing Vietnam tour, a trip that will take me through Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, Hoi An, and Hanoi, and includes an overnight cruise on Halong Bay. We've written about this travel package in the Real Deals section of BudgetTravel.com on several occasions because it's a great value vacation priced from $1,899 per person and includes 5-Star accommodations in four Vietnamese locales, an overnight cruise on Halong Bay, several guided tours, most meals, and international airfare from San Francisco (additional fees apply for airfares from L.A., New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, and Washington D.C.) There's a good mix of free time to explore on your own and an extensive guided tour-filled itinerary, as well as several affordable optional activities in case you're looking for special experiences like a 6-hour guided day-trip to the infamous Cu Chi Tunnels (from $40 per person) or a $50 half-day guided tour of Hanoi that ends with a traditional water puppet show.
I'm really excited about this trip, but at the same time I have to admit I'm not really looking forward to what will be the longest flight of my life so far. I have (thankfully) conquered my initial fear of flying and have gotten used to 3-hour hops between New York and Florida, and more recently, 6-to-9 hour flights back and forth from Europe. So far, my longest flights were between New York City and Hawaii (where I grew up) but we always had a layover in California at some point to help break it up a bit. This flight coming up on Thursday will be 14 hours straight from New York to Seoul, South Korea, then another 3.5 hours from Seoul down to Ho Chi Minh City. The flight home starts in Hanoi and takes me back through Seoul again before another 14-hour odyssey home to New York City.
This is where you guys come in. I've always had trouble sleeping on planes to begin with (I'm always too excited about wherever I'm going!) and would love to hear your tips for getting through a long flight. Are you supposed to sleep in one direction and not the other? What do you do to pass the time? Is there anything else I should know about before my first real long-haul international-date-line-crossing trip?
Also, I just wanted to say a special thank you to everyone who shared their favorite places to visit (and eat!) in London and Paris in the comments section of this story this time last year when I visited those cities. I loved reading through these and testing them out (they were delicious!), and if you're in the process of planning a trip to either city, I suggest you do the same! Your comments were also very helpful when I asked for suggestions for things to do in Lima & Cusco and in Amsterdam and Barcelona. Thank you so much for all your helpful tips and best of luck with all your future travels!