When I was 13 years old, my family moved from Virginia Beach, VA to Atlanta, GA. The 757 was my whole childhood and all I ever knew. I went from living at the beach with the people I grew up with to attending a high school in the middle of a cow pastor. I adapted well and it was nice to live by family for once since being a military family stationed us away from them my whole life. But I left something in VB that I had to go back for, the beach and my best friend Kaylie–who is still my best friend.
The summer after 8th grade I flew back to my hometown alone… navigating my way through the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Incase you don’t know, it’s the busiest airport in the U.S. so I can only imagine how my mom felt letting me go… but I managed to find my gate after a ride on The Plane Train to my terminal. I remember being so excited to board the plane and fly 600+ miles away for a reunion after a year of long distance friendship. That was it. That was the moment where my travel career started. 36,000 feet up in the air. 14 years old.
I landed at the Norfolk International Airport and you know that feeling you get when it feels like home? I had that feeling. I’ve known my way around this airport since I was a little girl traveling with my family and I was much more comfortable finding my way around than I was stumbling around Atlanta’s airport. I finally met up with my friend and we had the best time that week catching up and sharing how our last year of middle school went.
Since then, I’ve been on countless flights and road trips to familiar and foreign places. But you always remember the first time. Your first time flying alone. Your first time driving on a road trip. Your first time at a new place. The first time makes such an unforgettable impression as you’re more aware of the surroundings, taking everything in, & catching the details. It’s so eye-opening when we try something new because the first time only happens once!
If you’re flying for your first time solo, I have some advice/tips to help you. Hopefully this helps give you the best experience traveling alone for the first time:
- First and foremost, just remember you can travel alone and that’s perfectly fine. I was never going to go if I waited for someone to come with me.
- Pack Snacks! If you’re like me you are constantly eating and airport food is expensive. Keep it wrapped until after security and avoid liquids–they’re weird about those. But remember to grab a 3 oz. hand sanitizer for convenience.
- Plan to arrive at your gate 30-40 minutes before departure time. Boarding starts 20 minutes before take off and this gives you time to download any music/movies for the flight, figure out your snack situation, use the restroom, and avoid becoming stressed about missing your flight if the security line is long.
- Make sure you have headphones. This is also why being early is important incase you need to buy a pair. You will only forget headphones once before realizing how different your flight experience is without them.
- Just in case your luggage gets lost, pack a couple essentials/extra outfit in your carry on so you can survive a night without your suit case if need be.
- Wear shoes that are easy to take off, I prefer to wear socks as well since everyone walks barefoot on the same floor through security (this is the only part I hate about traveling).
- Keep your ticket and ID easily accessible. No one wants to be that person holding the line up digging through their bag…rookie mistake.
- Pack a jacket for the plane (I’m always freezing) and dress/pack for your destination! Check the weather where you’re going to make sure you’re covered.
- Less is more. Check your bag. Lugging around 5 different bags is a hassle and unfashionable. As long as you listen to bullet number 5 you’ll be okay.
- Don’t forget to put a name tag on your luggage with your info incase it gets put on the wrong flight. Having unique/easily distinguishable baggage makes picking it out at baggage claim easier too.
- If possible, have someone drop you off and pick you up from the airport. Paying for parking is expensive and it’s nice to have someone to talk to after traveling alone.
“You’ll never know until you go.”