Flying Solo: My Experience – Take Off
If you tuned into our previous blog, Flying Solo – My Experience: Before the flight, you’ll know I was fully prepared to embark on my first solo trip. I had my plans laid out, knew exactly what restaurants and shops I was going to visit while hanging about in the airport, and I even know the best route to get from one terminal to another, including my gate! But just like most things in life, no matter how prepared you are, and even how careful you are, things don’t always go as planned. While I still believe the preparations I made did play a huge part in helping me stay relaxed throughout the journey, I still ran into a few hiccups along the way…
The day had come for me to depart. I was up early and ready to make my way to London. I knew exactly where my passport and tickets were, what I needed to do when I arrived, and whereabouts I was going to hang around while waiting for my flight. I had booked a ticket with National Express, a coach service the would take me from the city of Norwich right up to Heathrow Airport. I knew I had plenty of time to spare as I had chosen a time slot that would allow me around 8 hours extra time at the airport. This was my first time to travel solo and I wasn’t going to take any risks. Things started off smoothly as I made my way to Norwich with my brother who was going to drop me off. About 15 minutes into the drive to Norwich we hit a major traffic jam, and let’s just say everything went downhill from there.
I started panicking as the time went by and the cars seemed to continuously pile up. I knew I had plenty of time once I reached the airport, but now I faced the problem of actually getting to the problem. If I missed the National Express, my next option would be to get my brother to drive me up to London. It wouldn’t have been the end of the world for me, but for someone who had only had a couple of hours sleep with working starting in another couple of hours, I was sure he wasn’t in the mood to do so. Luckily the traffic started to disappear and we slowly started to move. I made it to the bus terminal in time, but with literally only a few minutes to spare. I remember my brother practically throwing my suitcase into the bottom of the coach as I hurried to get on without even getting to say goodbye. I had planned to treat my brother to breakfast that morning, obviously, it didn’t happen, but I think he was happier that he didn’t have to make the drive to London that worrying about a breakfast treat.
The journey to London was as smooth as it could be. I remember sitting in excitement as I was finally taking the first step towards going home to the Philippines. We arrived at Heathrow in time which meant I was the first person in queue to get checked in for my flight. I still had plenty of time to wander around but I stuck to my plan and waited patiently to get my luggage and tickets sorted before enjoying the restaurants and shops within the main part of the airport. The check-in procedure went well, and I was finally able to enjoy the Duty-Free of Heathrow. With plenty of time to kill I started making my way through the list of shops, I had planned to visit. While I didn’t have shopping in mind, I was hoping to get a few things before my flight. My intentions were good right up until I saw the price tags of various products. Being a student at the time, shopping at the airport wasn’t the wisest idea. I continued to enjoy window shopping until a middle age lady approached me and point out I had a massive hole in my legging! Turning bright red I said thank you and hurried off the bathroom to see the state I was in.
After checking my leggings out I realized I had a major wardrobe malfunction I needed to get sorted and asap. Rummaging through my hand luggage, I later discovered I had missed one of the most important things you should bring on a flight, an extra pay of clothes! Panicking, and feeling pretty stupid, I had no option but to awkwardly walk around the shops in search of a new piece of clothing that would fit my price range. 5 shops later, stressed out and feeling rather grumpy, I finally came across a pair of leggings I decided to by. While I remember being appalled at the 30 price tag, I couldn’t complain seeing as my other options were either nearing the 100 mark or above.
With my ‘issue’ sorted I finally sat down at my planned restaurant, Pret A Manger for my now very late lunch. I ended up spending 3 hours sitting in the same spot before I was able to make it towards my gate. With only an hour or so left before takeoff, I remember having the butterflies in your stomach kind of feeling. I was still a bit nervous but definitely more relaxed as I had been. Actually boarding the plane and enjoying the ride wasn’t the scary part of flying solo, but rather having to get to the airport, check-in, and make your way towards the areas you need to be at where the things that had been worried.
After finally boarding my flight, and enjoying my front row window seat (I selected my seat online) I took a deep breath and was finally able to relax. With my new leggings feeling really comfy and smooth (I guess you do get what you pay for and my purchase was one I didn’t regret) I sat back, relaxed, and smiled as I looked around. I had got through the ‘hard’ part of the journey, I know I could enjoy the ride. Despite sitting next to a lovely man in his senior years who couldn’t stop snoring, I enjoyed chatting about his travels and listening to his stories. It was a great way to make an airplane buddy, and it made the flight that more interesting. My long-haul flight had begun and I was ready to face the adventures Malaysia would bring when I landed to connect to my next flight. Malaysia went smoothly and I was literally at the gate for check-in for my connecting flight just under 15 minutes from landing. Studying the airport beforehand had been a good idea as I knew exactly where I needed to go and what transfers I needed to make. With just a 2 hour stopover I was up in the air again before I knew it, and before long I was already circling above Cebu, Philippines.
Arriving in the Philippines was a piece of cake, I knew the airport by heart and knew exactly where to go and what to do. It was until the night after first arriving in the Philippines that I laid in bed at laughed at myself. Why? I found it hilarious how worked u flying solo had made me feel. All the preparations I made and still not everything went to plan. I do admit the planning did make a difference, and if it wasn’t for certain parts of my plans, the whole journey could have gone completely different. While flying solo for the first time can be a scary experience, once you’re actually past all the security checks and on the airplane you’ll start to relax and enjoy the independent journey. Since my first solo flight, I’ve flown silo a couple of time and have always enjoyed the experience. I’ve met a handful of lovely people that were also travelling solo and was able to enjoy hours chatting away sharing their experience and travel plans. Flying solo isn’t as much of a big deal as it may seem, yes it can be intimidating when it’s your first time, but it’s also a great experience that I believe everyone shoulto try out.