Travel Time for Long Distances

So I’m on a bit of international travel at the moment, which saw me taking an unusually tortuous route to cover the distance between Minneapolis and Penang, Malaysia. That’s 8,850 miles as the crow flies (tired, cranky, dehydrated crow), and rather longer by the route I took.

  • Minneapolis to LA – 1524 miles
  • LA to Tokyo – 5489 miles
  • Tokyo to Singapore – 3300 miles
  • Singapore to Penang – 375 miles

Total Distance Covered: 10,688 miles


Note that’s a 20% increase in distance covered. My total travel time for this trip, including layovers and highly stressful delays due to weather and booking, was . . . hmm. 

  • I left the house at 4:45am Minneapolis time on Friday.
  • I arrived at the hotel in Malaysia at about 10:30am Singapore time on Sunday, which is 9:30pm Minneapolis time on Saturday.

Total travel time: 29 hours, more or less


It seemed like longer than that. Average speed was thus roughly 300mph to cover the crow-flies distance over the real-world time elapsed. That’s roughly half what you’d calculate looking at a crow-flies distance divided by the typical quoted speed of a large jet, which varies from 550-650mph.

In short, it takes twice as long to get where you want to go than you’d think. That’s gameable information right there, obtained at the cost of no small amount of exhaustion and irritation. It turns out I wrote about this before,  so yay for consistency.

It would have been worse except for some excellent work by a travel agent and Japan Airlines, and if Delta had their way, I’d still be in LAX.

Jet Lag

One of the tougher bits of such long distance travel is jet lag. Being on the go for so long, with poor or zero sleep (in my case, I think I slept perhaps 4-5 hours). 

Upon arrival, you’re tired. A lot of that is oxygen deprivation, dehydration (not helped if you’re quaffing booze the entire trip), and sleep deprivation. 

All of these are fixable. If you drink water like the proverbial fish while you’re in the air – probably something like 1.5 ml of water per hour per kg of body weight. So for a 10-hour flight for someone of 80kg, you want to down 1.2L of water, minimum. Honestly, that doesn’t even sound like enough by a factor of 2.

Another big factor seems to be humidity level. The humidity of the outside air at 40,000 feet is something like 1%. Passengers are rather substantially more comfortable at 15-25%. New planes (A350, B787) will attempt to manage this better. 

But once you get there, well, you tend to be tired when you arrive, and often you find yourself doing email at 2-4am, because you just can’t fall asleep. Or you can fall asleep, but you can’t stay there. 

That means that you’re just off kilter. All day. And at some point, your body just gives up the ghost on focus.

HT Rolls are a Real Thing

At that point, the sensation is like having your head being stuffed with cotton. Or being drunk but without the pleasant sensations of getting that way in the first place. It’s hard to think, your coordination goes down, and your judgement and perception are impaired. Oh, perhaps your visual and sensory acuity is fine (but perhaps not), but your processing power is far lower.

For me, at least, it’s not a creeping thing. I find it the closest real-world analogy to the game-mechanical equivalent of failing a HT roll or a Saving Throw. One moment, I’m fine. The next, I’m at -5 to CON, DEX, INT, WIS, and maybe even CHA (or -2 to IQ, DX, and HT in GURPS). 

This is modeled best by an affliction or condition. You (or at least I) must eat right, force myself on to the right circadian rhythm, and also exercise. I’m not sure why exactly the exercise helps, but it does. 

But boy you can feel it when you fail a roll. It might also be well represented by Long-Term Fatigue from After the End 1 and 2.

Parting Shot

Things have been busy over here. Work has been long and constant, and my HT roll seems to be failed beween 5pm and 7pm each night – which is either right as work ends, or before. Which sucks. So I missed the Sunday Review and Reloading Press (though I will probably throw down a retroactive Reloading Press later today).

But travel? It can be hard, especially if you’re stressed out at the same time. It’s nearly always slower than you think it will be, especially over long distances, and the disruption to sleep cycles when you invert your day/night rhythm abruptly (over the course of a day or two) is a tangible thing. 

I’ll try and get back to some more regular posting, but they don’t send me over here for vacation, so I’m still pretty busy. Expect some level of disruption for the next two weeks, but I should be able to do more fun stuff on the weekend.

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