Flying to your chosen destination is the first exciting stage of any big trip, but it can also be a bit daunting- especially when you’re flying by yourself.
After all, you’ve got to navigate around a maze-like airport, get to your gate on time, and then, when you’ve finally boarded, find novel ways to entertain yourself for hours on end in a confined space, thousands of feet in the air with total strangers for company!
You soon learn that flying solo’s far easier (and more enjoyable) than it sounds. Nevertheless, having a few top tips for flying alone should help the time pass faster, improve your state of mind throughout the journey, and ensure a smoother trip from start to finish. Keep reading for 7 of my top suggestions for making solo flights safer, simpler, and more pleasurable all-around.
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Why Fly Alone?
First, though, let’s talk about a few of the many benefits of flying alone. In reality, as daunting, difficult, and dull as spending long haul flights by yourself might seem, they can actually prove advantageous.
For example, travelers who fly alone can choose where and when to travel, without having to change their plans to satisfy friends, family, or any other travel companions. Everything (both at the airport and on the plane) is in their control! The result?
Total freedom and independence en route to the destination. You can eat and drink when and what you want, watch as many awful films as you like, and so on.
Ironically, traveling alone on a plane can also be a good way to meet new people and make new friends! Sooner or later, you’ll engage in conversation with your seat neighbor. In doing so, you’ll learn about their life, discover more about their travel plans (not to mention your chosen destination), and might even find somebody to split a taxi with when you land or spend more time within the country.
It’s also worth mentioning that flying alone can be a good psychological endeavor. Spending hours at a time by yourself, making decisions with nobody to help you, and navigating the transit challenges that may arise along the way is a great way to learn more about yourself. That can be a good taste of things to come whenever you’re embarking on a long-term solo trip.
7 Tips for Flying Alone
1. Prepare for the Flight
The first thing someone should do when flying alone is to prepare well in advance. After all, from booking the flight to finding out about baggage rules and regulations, preparing documents, and packing their bags, there’s a lot to consider.
Likewise, when booking the flight itself, it’s always a good idea to do it well before the intended departure date. This will help you buy flights at lower prices and with easier connections. If you can’t avoid connections between flights, then try to allow plenty of time between flights in case of delays.
It’s also wise to check for passport expiration dates and VISA requirements. When it comes to preparing your luggage, start by checking the company regulations for checked and/or carry-on bags, finding the right backpack/suitcase (like these backpacks for back pain), and making a list of the things you’ll need.
2. Stay Safe at the Airport
Upon arrival at the airport, there are several things to keep in mind in terms of staying safe.
The most important is to never leave your luggage unattended! Keep your bags close to hand at all times. That should stop them from getting stolen and prevent any public concern arising about unattended luggage.
Another key piece of advice is to arrive well before your flight. Give yourself plenty of time in order to avoid the stress of waiting in long queues when you’re in a hurry to catch the plane. Follow the advice of your airline in terms of when to arrive. Check-in times vary, but many flights will begin checking in passengers a couple of hours before departure.
3. Listen to the pre-flight safety instructions!
Before each take-off, flight attendants (and/or pre-recorded in-flight entertainment videos) will deliver a short presentation detailing airplane safety instructions. It’s all-too tempting to switch off and pay no attention whatsoever!
However, they’re definitely important- especially for people who are flying alone for the first time. Accidents and malfunctions are extremely rare, but making sure you know what to do in an emergency could, in theory, make a life-saving difference.
That safety presentation will also outline the rules you need to follow throughout the flight. Things like keeping the seatbelt fastened for take-off, landing, and throughout turbulence should be followed at all times. Most of it is simple common sense! It’s still worth following along with though. It’ll ensure you’re doing what you’re meant to during the journey.
4. Bring some in-flight entertainment
The longer the flight, the harder it can be to stay entertained, avoid boredom, and maintain your sanity! Trust me, flying alone can get supremely dull when you’ve got nothing to do (or limited options at your disposal).
Of course, there’s often actual in-flight entertainment to help. With countless films, TV series, music videos, and games available, it’s actually quite easy to kill a few hours at a time.
However, you may soon realize that there’s only so much time you can spend staring at a tiny screen before boredom starts to seep in again. Packing a magazine or book, downloading your favorite music and films onto a laptop or tablet, and bringing a puzzle-book or sketchbook to draw in are a few additional options that could help.
One thing that’s worth remembering is that mobile phones and other electronics usually have to be switched off or put on airplane mode throughout the journey. That means no internet (unless there’s Wi-Fi on board) to keep you entertained!
5. Make friends if possible
For many people, one of the greatest disadvantages of flying alone is not having anybody to speak to. With no friends or family on board, you can end up spending hours at a time just sitting in silence, staring out the window, or watching movies.
Now, for some people, that might be total heaven, but others will find it lonely and a key contributor to rapidly rising levels of boredom.
The good news is that it can easily be overturned by making friends on the flight. As I said above, there might be any number of people around you who are willing to talk and exchange stories. Making new friends helps the time pass much faster.
Strike a balance though. Once you get some people talking, they never stop! You might want to chill out for a while but feel compelled to keep talking. It’s exhausting. The same goes for others, too though. Try to respect the needs of your flight neighbors, who might just want to rest in silence.
6. Try to chill
Feel yourself getting agitated or fearful on the plane? Do your best to stay calm! Comfort yourself with the knowledge that major problems are very rare. You might get low levels of turbulence during the flight, but it doesn’t mean you’re in any danger.
Learning a few breathing exercises or meditation techniques before your flight could help. So too will having enough entertainment to keep you distracted. For people with serious phobias of flying, it could be worth going to the doctor to access certain medications to help with the nerves (and possibly support your sleep). However, that should always be used as a last resort and only with proper medical advice.
7. Know what to do after you’ve landed
The flight itself is by no means the end of the journey! You’ve got to wait for the plane to pull into its bay, disembark, work your way through passport control, collect your luggage, and then navigate through the arrivals hall to figure out your onward journey.
All that can take time and cause a fair degree of stress when you’re by yourself with nobody to call on for advice. You’ll be tired after the long flight and, perhaps, desperate to get into bed. The whole thing can feel a bit overwhelming.
My advice? Don’t rush (unless you’re in a hurry to catch a connecting flight, in which case you should definitely rush!). Upon landing at the destination, take a breath and accept that there’s more waiting to do. If you can, get off the plane in good time in order to skip the queues at border control- but don’t worry if it isn’t possible. Do whatever you can to make life easy for yourself! Freshen yourself up in an airport bathroom, grab something to eat, ask for help from airport employees (or speak to your fellow passengers) if you’re unsure where to go. Take your time, trust that you’ll figure it out, and look forward to the adventures that await.
Remember These Tips for Flying Alone!
While it might feel like a stressful and daunting task, most first-time solo travelers will be pleasantly surprised at how easy (and enjoyable) flying alone is in reality!
Nevertheless, there are definitely a few things to consider in order to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Proper research and preparation, understanding the process involved, trying to stay entertained, and maintaining a good attitude can all make a difference towards having a successful experience flying alone. Hopefully, these tips for flying alone will help in that regard.
Guest Author: Danny Newman is currently writing and traveling his way around the world in a bid to figure out exactly what he’s doing with his life. He’d love you to follow along with his journey over at What’s Danny Doing.