So I was terrified because I’d never flown alone, and I certainly hadn’t navigated an airport or switched planes alone before.
BUT I DID THOSE! And they went super well. Granted it was New Year’s Day and all of the airports were pretty dead as a result (much to my surprise and joy). So while I was killing time during my three hour layover in Atlanta, I thought about a few things I’ve learned about flying solo (literally).
- You will forget things. I forgot to pack headphones, a pen, and socks outside of my checked luggage. Headphones don’t really need an explanation, but it’s not the end of the world if you forget them. They’re just really nice to have. The pen, however, is crucial–especially if you’re flying internationally. You’ll have to fill out a few customs forms on the flight which must be completed in black or blue ink. The flight attendants almost certainly won’t have extra pens and you’ll therefore have to borrow your seat buddy’s pen. Just hope it wasn’t green ink like my seat buddy’s, otherwise you’ll have to fill it out again later (lesson learned). Newsflash: airport tile floors probably aren’t the cleanest, and having to go barefoot through security wasn’t the most fun in the world. Not to mention that I didn’t see anyone else without socks. Don’t be like me and have to rock the only socks you can find in the airport shops: Not my best look by any means (but also probably not my worst, sadly). On the same note, try not to be like this chick and commit the dreaded socks and sandals sin:
- Pack your chargers in a carry on. This one is essential especially if you’ll have a layover or two. My iPhone was losing battery (mostly due to all of my photos and snapchats–woops) and when I arrived at the Atlanta airport, I was able to charge it while I ate. I couldn’t go without it since I had to call my ride once I arrived in Haiti!
- When filling out those customs cards I mentioned above, read them first. It wasn’t my first time filling them out, but I screwed up by writing my birthdate in the incorrect format. So I was kinda glad I had to fill out another one instead, because this mess was terrible.
- This is probably my favorite one: ask for help. But at the same time, don’t rely on asking for help–experiment a little bit on your own. If you’re lost, ask someone. But don’t ask for help at every chance you get. You’ll figure it out eventually, and then you’ll be like, “okay, yep, I can do this!”
- Make friends. My last trip to Haiti, I wasn’t seated by anyone in my group on any of our flights. The ladies pointed out later that they were shocked at how conversational I was being with these people I had never met before. Talk it up! I met fascinating people back then, and I continued to meet amazing people yesterday just by being friendly. (Although it is easier to strike up conversation when you tell them you’re doing something crazy, like going to Haiti for a year…)
- ENJOY THE EXPERIENCE! People watch. Grab some food. Heck, have a beer! Check out the shops. Take photos (but don’t be living behind a screen–live in the moment, too).