Flying alone from London to New Zealand means that I have had my fair share of solo flights, so I should be an expert right?! Wrong. I must admit I am getting better with airport anxiety but I still don’t feel like I have conquered the ‘fear’ yet. On my first ever flight alone from London to Dubai, I was sat next to three friends who were traveling to Thailand for 3 weeks. Once we got talking and they asked what I was doing and I was saying how I was moving to New Zealand, and I didn’t know anyone, nor did I know the country and I was only 19 they were all so shocked and surprised. I couldn’t understand why everyone I spoke to was saying how brave I was? I had a dream of traveling and exploring more of the world.. so why wouldn’t I go and do it?
I know so many people who would love to travel, but the thought of flying alone scares them so they never follow their dreams. I still can’t get my head around that one. So I thought I would share with you my airport tips, so, if you’re like me and hate the whole airport thing, you can feel a little bit better heading into your new trip!
Before flying alone
- Make sure your passport is valid.
- Buy your ticket at least 3/4 months before your travel to ensure you get the lowest price; you can use websites like Skyscanner for this.
- Making a packing list, I find this so helpful because I use it before I leave to make sure I have everything, and then once I on my way home, I reuse the list to make sure I have packed everything to take home!
- If you can, try and only take carry on luggage. Honestly, this saves so many times and hassle at the airport. You can skip baggage claim and head straight through to security.
- Wear your bulky clothes on the plane. I always make sure I am wearing jeans, trainers and a jumper so that I have more room in my suitcase. Don’t forget once you’re on the plane you can always change into something a lighter or more conformable
- Check in online 24 hours before your flight- To prevent having to wait at the check-in desk, download the airline app, I find the Emirates app really easy to use, they give you constant updates on your flight e.g gate number along with the mobile boarding pass which you can use rather than waiting to get one printed off.
Getting to the gate
- Make sure you are at the airport at least 2 hours before your flight to ensure you can get to your gate on time.
- Use a pouch to keep all of your documents together; passport, boarding pass, visa, travel insurance. You will need these several times whilst going through security etc, so make sure they are easily accessible.
- Make sure you have access to your liquids and Laptop for easy access as these have to be taken out a security. Remember your liquids must be in a clear bag under 100ml.
- When you arrive at security, start preparing yourself before you get to the front of the queue. security can be very fast pace in some countries, so you want to make sure you have everything ready to pop into the box as soon as possible. Unzip your bag and ensure that you can have access to your liquids and laptop and if you have a watch or any jewelry on, remove them too.
- Once you are through security, I would check the departures board and see if your gate has been announced yet, or if there are any changes to your flights, for example, a delay. I used the Auckland airport app when I left for Brisbane over Christmas and it was so good for telling me the status of my flight and what gate to go to.
- If you have lots of time I would 100% recommend trying to find somewhere to grab something to eat and a bottle of water. Depending on the length and time of your flight, you will get free food, but if your only going on a short distance, I would grab some snacks before you leave the airport as food on the airplane can be rather expensive.
Boarding the plane
- Once you are at your gate, find somewhere to sit until your zone is called. On bigger planes, they call you up in zones which are printed on your boarding pass. Pushing or Shoving in the queue won’t mean that the plane will leave any earlier and you are normally already allocated with seats at this point so there is no worry that you won’t get on the plane!
- Keep your boarding pass out as you will need this to show the flight attendant so that they can show you where your seat is.
- Take everything you need out of your bag before you fly so that you can put your bag in the overhead compartment at the start and not have to worry about it until you have landed.
- If you are taking your phone/laptop, remember to put it in airplane mode before you depart.
- If your flying for a long duration of time, I would recommend that you get up and go for a walk to ensure that you keep your circulation going.
- If you’re going on an overnight flight, try to maintain your usual routine as much as possible. I understand that the in-flight entertainment might have all of your favorite movies on, but trust me, after you have been served dinner and you head off to the bathroom to put on something comfy and you try and sleep as much as possible, your future self will thank you for it.
- If you have to complete a customs card, try and complete it on the plane as this way you can save yourself time and queues once you have landed.
- If you can, try and head straight to customs. If you are a large plane, everybody on the plane has to go through customs and passport control, so I’d try and be the first one through so you can just walk in and out. The last few times that I have flown have been really quick and easy because I don’t have to wait for my bag as I just take carry on luggage.
- Pre-arrange a way of getting from the hotel to your destination so that you don’t have the stress of finding transport as soon as you have landed.
Airports can be daunting at times, but try to give your self-plenty of time and just breathe. The world is your oyster, so follow your dreams and don’t let anything stop you.