I have flown on my own quite a few times in recent years, both long haul and short haul.
A few people have called me ‘brave’ for doing this, but I honestly find it less stressful than traveling as a group of mates (mostly, there is always one who shows up late, always).
Doing something as big as getting on a flight alone and traveling to another country is something that I think everyone should try out at least once; maybe you’re thinking of backpacking around Asia by yourself or you might be a day or two behind to meet family and friends in NYC, who knows!
With that in mind here are some of my tips for how to cope with flying solo.
1. Print out all your documents, and keep them all together.
It sounds silly, but even things like an ESTA which don’t need to be printed might just come in handy.
I keep all of mine (plus passport and boarding cards) in this:
I’m not sure this lime green colour is available any more, but they do it in loads of different prints and shades. The front pocket is A5 so you can fit all your docs, passport etc in there. (I actually use the front for my inflight make up. This comes out of my hand luggage during the flight as it holds makeup AND my documentation needed for landing cards.
2. Carry a pen!
Even if you’re not that kind of person usually. Just throw one in your hand luggage, you might be bold enough to ask the stranger sitting next to you if they have one, but you should be the smug one that has the pen, because you know it feels good when someone needs it.
If you don’t want to pack the usual biro, think about the Moleskine Pen, as it clips onto your journal, and is super flat. Pick it up online or in Selfridges.
3. Don’t panic about connecting flights by yourself
- If you’re connecting in the US, chances are you’re probably flying to a hub where 97% of your flight will also be connecting, it’s a ‘hub’ so it’s an airport used mostly for connecting flights
- You don’t have to check in from the beginning, you already did that.
- You may need to go through a security gate again
- Look out for your connecting flight on monitors
- Only got a short connection time? Don’t panic, they know you’re coming, and chances are, there are passengers on your first plane who will be going your way too
- The company you are flying with may have announcements about your connecting flight, so make sure you listen real carefully!
4. Choose your seat wisely!
You don’t have to sit with your mates, so when booking your flight you might get to pick where you sit.
If you think you’re going to get up and down a lot to visit the bathroom, pick the aisle.
Sleeper? Book a seat in the middle near the back, if your flight is quiet, you will probably get a row to yourself to stretch out. These are the least popular seats usually, but if you’re in no rush, why waste your time trying to scramble to get off at the end? An extra 3-4 minutes won’t make huge amounts of difference!
5. You don’t have to make friends.
Just because you are traveling alone doesn’t mean that you have to chat to the person sitting next to you. It’s nice to make polite conversation and all that, but if you want to have a snooze, do so. Don’t feel totally obliged to spill your guts to your 7 hour seat buddy.
Relax and have fun with it! You’re traveling, not performing rocket science, it’s an easy and fun experience, so always remember that. Traveling alone can be so rewarding, I mean, who else would be okay with letting you stare at duty free for a whole hour, besides you?
(When I went to Australia on my own in March, I ate an entire PIE in the airport, pretty sure it was big enough for 2 people. Didn’t care).