Taking a flight alone can be daunting. Here’s how to cope.
The first time you take a flight alone is always special and exciting. You want to make sure you’ve done everything in your power to have a smooth experience and you’re prepared for worst-case scenarios. Travelling alone doesn’t have to be a scary situation though. The chances are you’ll find it rewarding and fulfilling.
Top tips and tricks for your flight alone
1. Pick the destination that’s best for you
The first step is obviously choosing your destination. You’ll probably have a great time wherever, but you want a destination that suits you and excites you more than any other. Consider factors like language and whether you’d be comfortable going somewhere where English is rarely spoken. Think about cultural or religious differences and whether you should be covering up your legs and shoulders when you land.
2. Look at entry requirements before you go
Some countries require that your passport is valid for six months after the day you leave the country, or that you have sufficient blank pages in your passport for visas. Similarly for visas, see if you need one before travel. Many countries, especially in Southeast Asia, will provide a visa on arrival. Others require you to apply online beforehand for an electronic travel authorisation. Make sure that the visa covers you for the length of time you’re staying in that country.
3. Consider if you need any vaccines
Check what vaccines you need for a certain country. If you’re travelling to Europe or North America, there are usually no requirements, but other locations may recommend that you get vaccinated. Go to a travel clinic to get that information and make sure you’re covered.
4. Get travel insurance
This one should go without saying, but travel insurance is critical when travelling abroad. If you get sick, or your flight is cancelled, your passport stolen, or any other possibility, it’ll give you peace of mind that you’re covered and you won’t have to spend hundreds or thousands to get out of a jam.
5. Find a cheap flight
Now it’s time to actually book your flight. Flights will most likely be your biggest expense on any trip, so to do your research to find the best one. Use an online flight aggregator to find the cheapest combination of flights, and check back a few times a week to see if the costs have changed.
6. Getting to the airport
It can be intimidating the first time flying alone, but the process is quite smooth and easy once you get used to it. Try to get to the airport two hours before a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight. When you get to the airport, check the monitors to find the right check-in counter if you haven’t checked in online or have luggage to drop. If there is an option for online check in that’s always easier.
7. Going through security
Make sure you’ve packed in the right way to go through security. If you’re not checking a bag, make sure your liquids are the appropriate size and in a clear bag, and you don’t have any of the prohibited objects in your suitcase. Wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off and avoid wearing many accessories that you have to take off and on again.
8. During your flight
Make sure you have water and snacks for the flight, as you want to stay well hydrated. You should also have some form of entertainment like a book or some movies on your phone, as more and more planes don’t have seatback televisions anymore. Walk around and stretch regularly by walking the aisle.
9. Arriving at your destination
Once you arrive, you’ll have to go through customs and immigration and retrieve your baggage if you had any checked luggage. This process can take a while but is the same in most countries. Don’t take any pictures of this area as this is a sure way to get in trouble.
10. Getting to your hotel
Research beforehand how to get from the airport to your hotel to make sure you know what to do. Sometimes there is a public transportation option for a fraction of the taxi cost but it may take much longer. Be ready with the right currency to pay for this transportation.