Flying Solo – My Experience: Before the flight
For those that have never flown alone before, the adventure that awaits can be a rather exciting yet scary one. Travelling is always a big deal, even if you’re flying with family members or friends. With the journey ahead of you constantly on your mind, to checking in and ensuring you’re luggage meets the airline’s standards, flying from one country to another isn’t always a piece of cake, especially when you’re about to do it alone. While hundreds if not thousands of people fly from one destination to another on a daily basis, not everyone is as lucky to be an expert traveller. Despite the worries and doubts, you may have when it comes to flying solo, I’m here to ensure you it’s actually not that bad.
Since the age of 4, I had been travelling from one end of the world to another every few years. With family based in the Philippines, yet living in the UK, the long haul flight always seemed an adventure I was excited to take part in. However, when the time came for me to fly solo when I had just turned 18, I found myself not as excited as I had always been. Sure, searching for tickets and the best deals was something I considered fun, but it was until I had booked my first solo ticket that it really sank in. I had just paid to travel from the UK to the Philippines, a flight that was going to take up a good 20 hours of my time, and something I was going to have to do alone.
While I was beaming with excitement to finally have a date when I would visit the country I loved so much, I also found myself flooded with worry and doubt. Could I really travel halfway around the world all by myself? Did I know what I was doing? Would I get lost and miss my connecting flight? What if there’s a delay or an emergency landing and I’m stuck in the middle of nowhere? These questions played on my mind for months, and right up until the day I was booked to fly out. Yes, I was nervous, and yes I secretly wanted to curl up in a ball and forget about my flight. But was I prepared to let me fear win and leave me in a mess? No!
Before the day of my departure came I decided to rehearse the much awaited day. Now, that may sound silly for some, being 18 and of legal age, why was I so scared to do such a simply thing? Looking back, the idea to rehearse the exciting day was more down to helping me organize my arrival at the airport up until I landed in the Philippines. I remember sitting on my bed with my flight details laid out in front of me, my passport to one side, and the hand carry bag I was going to use. It was there and then, a week before I was to fly out, that I decided to plan every step of my solo journey.
I started of my plan by deciding where in my bag my passport and travel documents were going to be. With so much going on at the airport, the last thing you want to worry about is remembering where you left the most important papers to your trip. I decided to keep all my important documents in one small notebook type bag which I then place in my hand carry. Knowing exactly where everything was going to definitely give me some relief. Next, I planned out my arrival at the airport. My flight wasn’t till 6:00 pm yet I wanted to arrive with plenty of time to spare. I made sure I made travel arrangements in advance and had already booked a National Express ticket to get me to the airport with 8 hours to go before the actual flight. That may sound like a long time to wait, but with it being my first time to fly solo, I wanted to ensure I would make it to the airport with plenty of time to spare.
Knowing I had plenty of time between arriving at the airport and actually departing, I decided to note down what I could do and what areas I could roam around without wondering too far from my gate. I had a look at Heathrow’s website and noted what shops and restaurants were available in the terminal I was going to be. Not being a lover of airplane food, I decided to choose a restaurant where I could sit down and relax and enjoy a good British meal. With my late lunch planned at Pret A Manger, and a few shops such as Burberry and Cath Kidston on my to visit list, I was starting to look forward to the trip.
Now that I had sorted my departure, I then had to consider my arrival at my stopover. I had booked a flight with Malaysia Airlines, meaning Kuala Lumpur was my stopover. I also choose a ticket that only had a 2 hour and a half layover time. This meant I needed to be quick on my feet and know where I needed to go to transfer planes. After arranging my travel documents in my bag, and checking my transportation to the airport was confirmed, I then sat back down and studied Kuala Lumpur International Airports layout. I knew where I would be arriving at, and also knew where I needed to go to transfer, now all I had to do was actually find my way around the airport.
With the help of KLIA’s website, I was easily able to answer my questions. It only took me a few minutes to jot down the route I’d need to take to get from A to B. While I knew the airport staff and signs would be easy enough to understand, seeing as this was my first solo flight I wanted to be more than prepared. 30 minutes after surfing the internet, I knew exactly what terminal I’d arrive at and roughly what gate, plus how I’d need to transfer to check in to my connecting flight. Arriving in the Philippines wasn’t going to be a problem for me as my family and I had used Cebu as our point of arrival several times. However, I still decided to refresh my memory and looked up Mactan Cebu International Airport’s website just to give me peace of mind.
With a plan that I’d consider A+ worthy, I actually felt more calm and confident with my adventure ahead. I knew where my belongings were going to be, roughly how much time I would have before taking off, a list of shops I planned on visiting to kill the time, and a transfer plan in Kuala Lumpur which was pretty impressive. Was I still nervous? Yes! But I was prepared. I knew exactly what I had to do, where I needed to go, and what areas I could waste away the time before my flight without wandering off too far. My plan was as close to perfect, but just like many things in life, not everything goes to plan…
The day of my departure came, and let’s just say, next week’s blog will definitely take you on a ride!