One Week Till Australia

In (roughly) one week, I’m going to get on a series of planes and time travel to Brisbane for GenreCon. (The schedule is at that link if you’re actually going to be there. And, in fact, if you’re going to be there, you should make sure you come say hi! Don’t be afraid! I do not bite unless I’m really drunk or unless I’ve contracted some kind of koala chlamydia.)

One of my plane flights is a 16-hour flight from Dallas to Brisbane.

Sixteen holy-shit hours.

I don’t know that I’ve ever done anything for 16 hours. Longest car trip was maybe 14? Jeez, I dunno. Point is, I’m going to be in an economy-sized seat (thankfully on an international flight, where the planes are bigger and with them, the seats) for a very long time.

And then, the inevitable jet lag.

Anyway, as I like to do, this seems a good time to crowdsource tips. Where I exploit you, my fabulous readership, by drilling a blog post into your brain and tapping your sweet, honey-like knowledge. The questions then, that I’d like to ask are:

a) Survival tips for a very long flight?

b) This very long flight seems like a good opportunity to digest great gulping mouthfuls of delectable pop culture medicine. As such, I am soliciting your opinions for interesting movies, TV shows, comic books, novels, and games to shove into my brain holes. In particular: noodling wolfing down entire seasons of television, as that seems to be an option.

c) How to deal with jet lag?

d) BRISBANE. My trip to Australia is 10 days, though due to the Time Travel Laws, I will actually only be Down Under for seven. As such, I’ve chosen to remain in and around the Brisbane area, so I’m narrowing down my “What To Do In Australia?” question to, “What To Do In Brisbane?” Essential sights, experiences, foods, what-not.

And there you have it.

Thank you, humans.

Screw you, robots.

That is all.

(Oh wait, that’s not all. While gone, by the way, terribleminds will remain in operation, its forges burning bright with the kindling of wonderful guest posts.)


  • Jet Lag: It’s been my experience that jet lag can be quickly dispelled by doing your damndest to get with the local sun cycle as soon as possible. If you arrive at 14:00 local time, but to you, it’s 3:00 yesterday, do everything possible to stay awake until dusk. After dusk, sleep or stay in bed until the sun comes up. Your brain will figure it out faster.

    • This is true. I would only add the caveat that, if you are anything like me, do not make any big decisions the next day. Get someone to vet your decisions, so you won’t decide, as I did, that riding a bicycle in downtown traffic at peak hour on the wrong side of the road is a good idea!

  • a) Drink loads of water. I tend to completely dry up on long flights, so staying hydrated is immensely important for me. Have stuff to do. I remember when I was 13 and I was on a flight from Richmond to Florida, I left Divergent in my carry-on bag, which was in the overhead compartment. Let me tell you, reading the provided magazine sucks on a major level. Be sure to have different kinds of entertainment on hand, in case you get bored of one type. Load up your e-reader, which I think is fantastic device since you can have an infinite amount of books in a small gadget.

    b) Movies: Inception. TV Shows: Merlin, Sherlock. Novels: Bring books you know you will like. For example, I bring a bunch of Young Adult Contemporary novels, since I know I’ll enjoy them.

    c) I sleep when I want to on the plane, but immediately force myself to sleep at the correct time when I land. It works pretty well for me.

    • Definitely the drinking water. Also, if you can’t get up to move around as much as you’d like, clench your muscles in turn from your toes to your backside and back down again every so often. It will reduce the swelling from sitting so long. Also gives you something to concentrate on!

  • I’d worry less about the jet lag and much more about the 16 species of spiders that can kill you within a few minutes. My friends from OZ say they hide in your shoes. Have a great trip!

  • A friend of mine just flew over last week on the same route you’re scheduled on (Dallas to Brisbane). Due to headwinds, they had to reroute to Auckland to refuel. The detour added a couple of hours to an already long flight. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the winds blow in your favor. 🙂

  • On the trip, get up every hour or so and stretch your legs, bend, move around…The more you sit, the more you’re opening yourself up to blood clots in the legs. (You can also buy travel socks to help circulation). Drink lots of water, as others have said. If you get a stiff neck easily, take a neck pillow, b/c the ones they give you on the plane aren’t comfy.Taking melatonin at the time you want to sleep is a good way to help you adjust to the time more quickly and get over the jetlag. Other than that the big thing once you get there is NOT TO SLEEP NO MATTER WHAT until it’s night time. You’ll fail, but keep trying anyway. (Voice of experience: more back and forth trips to China than I can count and getting ready for the next one in November).

  • Lots of good advice already.

    Jet lag – kill yourself to sync with the local time. If you don’t arrive at local bedtime, stay up. Your brains may be dripping out your nostrils, but stay up anyway.

    Get up and walk periodically on the plane, even if you don’t have to use the bathroom.

    Drink a lot of water. Drink alcohol, if at all, only in moderation.

    I sleep as much as possible on an international flight. Not everyone can. A guy I know flies to China twice a month but can’t sleep on planes. Poor schmuck.

    As you’re flying economy, they likely won’t provide you with ear plugs and a sleep mask. Those aren’t bad things to pick up, and they’re cheap. A favorite (small) pillow and/or blanket can be a comfort.

    Book-wise, you might take some weightier or more daunting works that really require isolation to tackle. I finally read Ulysses on a plane ride to France.

    If you’re planning to do serious writing or video-viewing, make sure you’re aware of the power situation. Depending on airline, economy may or may not offer outlets at the seats. If not, consider bringing an extra battery or combining powered with non-powered entertainment (namely, a paper book).

    No advice for Oz herself, as I’ve not yet been, Have a blast, though. Safe travels.

  • My mom and I went to Australia three years ago – it was awesome.

    1) Be friendly w/ the airline attendants. My mom makes friends and was gifted w/ champagne. But she’s 80 years old and very cute.
    2) Get up for five minutes every hour and move around, minimum. I did yoga.
    3) Noise cancelling headphones
    4) sleep on the plane if you can.
    5) build in an afternoon on the second or third day where you’re not doing much. It’ll catch up with you.
    6) Enjoy yourself!

  • On a transoceanic plane, there is a little space in the back near the restrooms and galley where you can just get up and STAND for a while. Maybe even stretch out some. Do this.

    Super-hydrate before you go and pick up a giant bottle of water in the airport once you’re past security. Bring hand lotion and chapstick with you on the flight. Consider using melatonin on the plane, at what would be bedtime in the time zone you’re heading toward, and indeed try sleeping at what would be bedtime in your destination right away. Most planes these days will have some sort of wing or hinge on the sides of the head rest so you can nod off without putting a crick in your neck.

    Be very aware of battery life if you’re planning to do a lot of watching your own media on the plane; do not waste your sweet, sweet juice in the airport. You can’t count on being able to charge anything on the plane (unless you’re first class or some such, in which case damn you, you lucky pigeon.) Consider bringing one paper book for takeoffs and landings (but not much more, paper is heavy bang-for-your-buck and not worth hauling around in any significant quantity.)

    Screw impressing people, travel in sweatpants and not jeans (which will give you the crotch-sweat like whoa). For the long-haul flight bring a change of undies and a couple of pairs of socks onto the plane with you. Dress in layers, planes can be crazy hot or crazy freezing and you can never be sure which it will be this time.

    Set your watch to your destination time zone as soon as you’re in the air. It makes the compulsive checking how much flight time you have left easier to calculate. …Or is that just me?

  • I think your entertainment could be as follows:
    (Anime) Fairy Tail
    (Netflix) Bones
    (Movie) ok I have no idea
    (Comics) *shameless self-promotion* Mandy and Murder Bear, though it won’t take up much of your time:

    I don’t know about jet lag, but I have traveled by box truck from Austin, TX to Camdenton, MO. PEE AS OFTEN AS NEEDED. I held it in and felt sick upon arrival for about three days. Not fun. A huge water bottle (as stated above) is a wonderful idea. Don’t carry sharp objects longer than your middle finger. They tend to get upset about those.

    Above all, have FUN, otherwise all this other crap is all for naught…

  • Extra emphasis on the getting up and moving around. Not only will it help you be more comfortable but it also will get the circulation moving. Long car or plane trips can cause the blood to pool in your legs and lead to clots. Pulmonary embolism (read blood clots in the lungs) can develop from there. My husband has had this happen twice and each time he spent more than a week in the hospital.

  • I have a sure-fire way to enusre that whatever happens on the flight, you will be comfortable and grateful: Every year we take our two kids NYC to Sydney (24 hours in the air). We’ve been doing it since they were one year old and three months (my husband is Aussie) When I look back on how we did it, before they could watch movies and play ipads, I have no idea, but if I were going on a long haul flight without two kids, I’d think it were a snap. So, perspective is my advice. You won’t have your son with you?….total breeze. 🙂

    And you’ll love Australia, Brisbane, the people, the weather, the beaches, the funny accents, the meat pies, I never get tired of going. Have fun!

  • Come north to the Sunshine Coast. It’s about an hour away from Bris, you can get here by train (although probably easier to hire a car). Brisbane doesn’t have any beaches (except the manmade wave beach at Southbank, which EW DON’T SWIM IN THE URINE), so if you want to take advantage of our best natural resource (and if you can spare the time) you will need to get out of there for a day or two. Caloundra is closest to Brisbane and has beautiful beaches (try Moffat and Kings) and a nice esplanade (and if you need restaurant recommendations, let me know – it’s a bit hit and miss but there are some really great places if you know where to go), and Mooloolaba is also fab. Mooloolaba Beach and Alexandra Headlands are awesome — pretty popular but never crowded.

    In Brisbane itself — Southbank is nice for aimless wandering and pubs and restaurants and museums and theatres and whatnot, Fortitude Valley has good restaurants and clubs, New Farm’s pretty schmick and Kangaroo Point has great views.

    On your flight, take chewing gum (for when your ears pop on descent) and a huge bottle of water.

    Are you stopping over somewhere or is it 16 shitty hours straight through? If you have a stop and you will have to go back through a security gate for the second leg, don’t forget to empty your bottle of water and take it through the gate with you, because obvs you won’t be able to take it through with water in it, and 99% of the time transit gates won’t have anywhere you can buy another bottle after security, so if you want to stay hydrated on the next leg of your flight you’ll be stuck asking the flight attendant for tiny shitty cup after tiny shitty cup of water. Whereas if you have an empty bottle, you can just fill it up at a water fountain or something. I know that sounds like a really stupid tip, but I fly between London and Brisbane a lot and I ALWAYS forget to do this and so on the second leg I’m usually torn between harassing my flight attendant the whole way or dying of thirst.

    I hope you have an awesome time here! Enjoy trying to curb your American urge to tip.

  • *peeks head out from usual lurking spot to offer up local knowledge*

    Definitely hit up West End for food, booze and live music. If you’re in the city, you can walk there – just cross Victoria Bridge and keep going down Melbourne St until you reach Boundary St. (That will take you past the Arts Centre Precinct, State Library and Museum, which is a nicely green area to detour into. If you detour further you will find Southbank, which is also nicely green.) Otherwise (as previously suggested) take the CityCat. Stand out the front. Say hi to my uncle John if he’s selling the tickets.

    You can’t beat The Three Monkeys (corner of Melbourne St and Boundary Rd) for atmosphere, and The Gunshop (opposite corner) used to do the best breakfast in the city (this may have changed since I moved). If you’re in need of some serious caffeine, wander down Boundary St to the giant shiny-arse lizard outside Ouzeri and turn up the side street – there’s a cafe called Cup in a garage about three doors down which will brew you an espresso that may inspire spontaneous dancing. A lot of the coffee in Bris is good but not great, but a cup from Cup is a cup of AWESOME.

    (Also worth noting – if you drink filter or percolated coffee as most Americans seem to do, you may find Australian coffee stronger than expected. Drinking more than three shots within a 12-hour period may cause unusual side effects. Proceed with caution. And for the love of pie, do NOT drink McCafe, The Coffee Club or 7-Eleven coffee. It will make you hate life.)

    Most of the food options around there are good (especially the Greek, Italian and Turkish places) and there’s an awesome indie bookstore called Avid Reader, as well as a cool 2nd hand bookstore call Bent Books, further up Boundary St. It’s a really laid-back area, perfect for a wander on a sunny afternoon.

    The Valley is also good for coffee, nightlife (The Bowery and Chilliwow are favourites) and Asian food. Almost every restaurant does some kind of yum cha, and they’ll usually have a lunch special. It’s also a good people watching area what with all of the smut shops nearby. The City itself is nothing special, but as someone else said, there are bars and cafes everywhere and if you’re in need of a laugh it’s worth comparing the City Library (batshit-insane, but colourful) with the State Library (gothic-grey-concrete-hideousness) directly across the river. Should a particularly Gotham-esque tower catch your eye, it may tickle your funnybone to know that it is in fact the home of the State Government Justice Department…

    As mentioned by others, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is a good option if you feel the need to get cuddly with the local fauna. Don’t piss off the Cassowary (yes, that’s a real thing, and it will kick your arse given half a chance).

    There’s probably more, but that looks like a lot already. Enjoy the trip and the con – hugely disappointed that I won’t be in Bris to fan-stalk you. I am in awe of your beard. Also your wisdom. Shutting up now.

    *resumes lurking*

  • Checked with a Brisbanite friend who offers these options:
    1.West End is a grungy bohemian area with great live music in pubs – Lock and Load is the recommended venue. You can eat lots of native animals at the Tukka restaurant (
    2. Fortitude Valley – good for clubs and pubs …and Chinese food. Also some great cafes for breakfast – Try Cirque, at 618 Brunswick Street. Another great venue for breakfast is the The Corner Store Cafe, 113 Sylvan Road, Toowong. Their menu is amazing and always changing.
    3. For outdoor activities, definitely surfing at Noosa or Byron (north facing, protected beaches, lively street vibe), lots of bushwalking around Mt Cootha, Mt Tamborine, or rock climbing at Kangaroo Point. There are lots of tour options too to make the most of your time (and money, no doubt!), for example:
    4. Power house (live music, great venue on the river for a Sunday arvo sesh), at
    5. GOMA(Gallery of modern art) at
    6. South Bank (pool like a beach, markets etc etc), at
    7. – giant ferris wheel, only go if the weather is brilliant for best views.

  • For jetlag, as above, PLUS go to a homeopath and source some cocculus 30c – you take a couple of pillules as you take off, then a couple each night for the first 2-3 nights after you land. If you do this, avoid overdoing alcohol (which is NOT GOOD for jetlag anyway). Stay up until at least 10pm local time, no naps etc.

  • October 1, 2013 at 3:23 AM // Reply

    You’ve already had some excellent advice on the long-haul plane ride. I’ve done Oz-North America and Oz-Britain several times and can attest particularly to grabbing an aisle seat if you can (as well as not having to climb over people to get out, it’s handy to be able to stretch a leg out along the aisle when things are quiet), and using the little open area at the back of the plane to go stand, wander about and do some stretches.

    In Brisbane itself, add another vote for the River Cat, especially if you’re feeling a bit conventioned-out and want to just mellow down and watch the waterfront go by for a little while.

    The West End is excellent, and a highlight of my last visit to Brisbane was an all-day pub/cafe/bookshop crawl up Boundary Street, starting with breakfast at the Gun Shop Cafe and zigzagging up the hill stopping for coffees, beers, ciders, burgers, books, and whatever else. There’s so much on Boundary that we filled a whole day with that even skipping plenty of places. Then hop over the hill from the top of the street and you pass a place named, as I recall, Swamp Dog, which I am told is “the most hipster fish’n’chip shop in the Southern Hemisphere”. Then down to a highbrow chocolate place by the convention centre and back around to the bottom of Boundary to finish up with late-night coffees at the Three Monkeys, just across the road from where we started something like eleven hours previously.

    The best part is that my companion on that adventure was the excellent Peter Ball, one of the GenreCon team, who I’m certain will be happy to supply advice and directions if you decide this seems like a good way to spend a day.

    I’ve heard excellent things about the Boggo Road Gaol tours, although I haven’t been on them. There are ghost tours (a friend of mine used to help run those, not sure if he still does), and also ones where the guides are ex-inmates and ex-guards from when the place was in business.

    If the city itself catches your interest at all, there’s a good book called “Pig City” that gives a potted history of its last few decades:

    It’s music journalism, really, because it uses a series of notable Brisbane bands to talk about the music and underground culture from the seventies onward, but that leads into said culture’s deeply adversarial relationship with the savagely conservative state government of the time so there are all sorts of interesting digressions about broader events.

  • a, do not ask for a window seat. Easier to get up – walk around if you sit on the aisle side.

    b, bring a paper book. Yes, you have your ebook-reader and notebook and whatever, but during takeoff and landing, you will need a book.

    c, skip the sleep before your flight. After you arrive, go out in the sun. (you could pack your running shoes, and go out for running.)

  • October 1, 2013 at 5:42 AM // Reply

    My best tip for the flight: drink water, move lots and limit the booze. Deep vein thrombosis hurts, trust me on this!

    I’ve done North America to Australia a couple of times (I live in Canberra) and the only way I’ve found to deal with the jet lag is to force myself into the new time zone. If it’s breakfast time, have breakfast, if it’s time for beer (that is any time after breakfast) the do that. It takes a couple of days but you soon adapt.

  • Ok, I’ve been living in South Korea for over a decade now and have done a lot of long haul flights back to Toronto (followed by another 6 hours of road travel to get to my home town). I don’t want to bum you out but in my mind the first thing you need to do is accept that it is impossible to be on a 16 hour flight and call the experience “good” or “enjoyable” in a absolute sense. There is “this flight was better than last time” relative good, but come on, flying that long largely sucks. So, accept that and remember it WILL be over and then you’ll have your great trip to enjoy.

    I’ve seen lots of great advice here so far, but I’ll add my own repeats for emphasis. This is what works for me:

    1. Drink lots of water.
    1b. Bring an empty, reusable water bottle. You can fill it after you’ve been through all the crazy security stuff (probably) to have a good supply on the plane. The flight attendants should be willing to refill it for you when you want.
    2. Avoid the booze.
    3. Take off your shoes.
    4. Walk around – I’d say take a walk every hour, unless you’re sleeping.
    4b. It’s easier to walk around a lot if you’re in an aisle seat.
    5. Personally I find it hard to enjoy any one bit of entertainment for the whole trip when I’m stuck on an airplane that long, so have a variety of options. Have music, movies, tv shows, an e-reader full of options you might want to dive into, a paper book and maybe a preferred magazine or two.
    6. Re: jet-lag. Do your absolute best to stay awake when you get there until a normal bedtime and your best to go to bed and sleep at your normal bedtime. If you’re lucky you land in the mid-morning and force yourself to stay awake until 9 or 10pm at least and then crash. You’ll wake up having kicked jet-lags ass.

    As for a suggestion of TV to bring I’d say get yourself the first season of “Orphan Black”, if you haven’t watched it before. It’s entertaining as hell and just the kind of thing to keep you engrossed and is awesome at the cliffhanger ending for each episode so you’ll want to watch more. And don’t just take my word for it. It was Tobias Buckell’s talking it up as awesome on Twitter that first got me to look at it.

    Another show that I think is perfect for an airplane ride is “Person of Interest”. I’m only about 3/4 through the first season of right now, but I’m loving it. I thought it’d be boring episodic network TV but it’s actually got a lot of ongoing plot happening, interesting characters and plenty of ass-kicking and shoot-em-ups to keep things interesting.

  • Hopefully you’ll have flights with in-seat screens. If so, they usually show a lot of fairly up to date movies. Plus you can listen to music but may have to pay for headphones> bring your own.
    If you think you can work on the plane, bring something. There’s free wifi at most airports, but you might want to bring a laptop if you have a wip on it. Remember to back up like crazy.
    Lastly, long plane rides are very boring. You can only spy on … er observe human interaction as research for characters just so long. So be sure to bring along a few paperbacks to while away the hours, and get up and walk around every hour or so to keep your blood from pooling.
    Good luck, and have a great trip!

  • O my-favourite-writer-alongside-Neil-Gaiman-and-Jonathan-Carrol, I vehemently second the melatonin tip: I usually travel across and/or between continents at least once a year, and it has never let me get jetlagged, not even once. Melatonin is the way.

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