Helpful Tips on Flying Solo
by Taylor Deer
Happy March Everyone! I just got back from an amazing trip visiting Alexie of Travels with Lexy in Cape Town, South Africa! Since I literally just walked in the door from a 15-and-a half hour journey, I am going to save my first South Africa blog post for next week.
Even though I visited my cousin and her boyfriend Mikey and did excursions with them while I was in Cape Town, I still had to travel all the way to South Africa by myself. Even though I travel once a month, I still get nervous when I fly somewhere far on my own because (in reality) anything could happen.
To help you prepare for your next solo journey, I am more than happy to share with you some great tips and suggestions I have gathered through my own independent adventures around the world to help ease your travel anxiety!
- Pack mindfully! When you are traveling alone, it is important to consider what you need versus what you want to bring. Last spring, I created a helpful checklist for any girl to use before she travels. I ALWAYS reference this blog post to make sure I never forget anything important. Remember, what you could find easily in a drug store in the United States can be a scavenger hunt in a pharmacy abroad. It is also important to not over pack when you are traveling alone. There is nothing worse than scurrying through an airport that is unknown to you, with heavy bags, to catch a quick layover.
- Always manage and check your booking AT LEAST two weeks in advance to your departure to ensure all of your documentation is correct in your prospective airline’s system. It is also important to check what travel documents you need when you enter the country you are visiting. The last thing you want to have to deal with is an issue with documentation at the airport.
- Make sure all of your bags and belongings are in your sight. Backpacks make it easy for “pickpocketers” to snatch something from you. Call me crazy, but I use locks on my backpack when I am walking around a busy airport or even wandering through a city. Even though some luggage already come with TSA locks built in, you could still easily purchase portable ones at your local Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Bed Bath and Beyond or Amazon. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
- Always keep your passport, wallet and phone in a safe and secure spot for you to easily find. You may think you’re checked in and through TSA, but before you know it, another person of authority or flight attendant needs to see your passport right away. I always bring an over-the-shoulder bag or satchel to easily store my passport, phone, wallet, boarding pass and phone charger.
- Wear comfortable shoes. Whenever I fly, I always like to wear shoes that are already broken into and easy to take off and put on when going through airport security. You also want to be able to run or speed walk in order to catch a time-pressing layover.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Landing in a major airport that is unfamiliar to you could be nerve wracking and a bit overwhelming. There may be signs in different languages, arrows pointing everywhere and everyone running in a hurry, but what is great to know is that almost everyone that works in an international airport knows English and is always willing to help you out.
- Learn how to say no when needed! It is easy for people to pinpoint that you are lost based on your facial expressions, so there may be individuals that approach you by offering to help carry your baggage or drive you somewhere. Not everyone offering to help you is considered a threat, but to maintain your own safety, it is always best to say “no thank you”. People like to take advantage of tourists by personally adding unnecessary tips, additional costs and raised prices and rates. Make sure you do not fall into a tourist trap.
- Don’t ever wander off by yourself in isolated areas. Dark alleyways and abandoned hallways are notorious locations to get kidnapped; it is always best to stay where people are to keep safe.
- Always make sure you get the currency of the country(s) you are visiting beforehand. Even though it costs more to get the currency here in the United States, you will feel more secure having cash right on you the moment you step off the plane. Although every airport has currency exchange counters and ATMs, you always want to make sure no one sees you take out a lot of cash. It is easier to become a target for robbery, especially when you are alone.
- Ensure you phone your credit card company(s) and inform them of your travel plans before you jet set. If you use a credit card abroad without notifying your bank, they could easily shut your card down for fraud.
- Get a phone plan! Most cell phone companies offer international plans at affordable rates. You could even pick up a SIM card when you land at your destination’s airport. You always want to make sure you are in constant communication with your family and friends back home as well as with the people you are meeting up with at your destination.
- Always arrange a car or taxi to pick you up from the airport to take you to your hotel, Airbnb or family/friend’s house. Luckily, most major airport hubs and cities have Ubers, but just in case they are scarce, it is important to have a backup plan.
- Never leave your belongings unattended, even if you ask a stranger to watch over it for you! No matter how much stuff you have, when you are traveling by yourself, you have to bring it all with you to the bathroom, bookstore or café/restaurant. Not only is it considered a threat to leave baggage unattended in an airport, but it is also an easy way to get everything stolen in a blink of an eye.
- Eat a full meal before you go on a plane. I have to admit (and I’m sure most of you could agree with me) that airplane food is definitely not the best. Not eating is bad for you and a sure way to get a headache or feel lightheaded, which is definitely NOT how you want to feel when you are traveling. That is why I always fill my stomach up before I fly away.
- Always check what you bring on a plane. It is definitely helpful to check TSA’s website to understand what is and isn’t allowed on airplanes. It is also important to check what you can and cannot bring into the country you are visiting. Certain medications (especially prescription medication) may be legal here in the United States, but could be banned and considered an illegal drug in other countries. Always bring your prescription papers with you, wherever you go to cover your back in case this happens.
- Make sure to be aware, stay friendly, open your heart and mind and most of all – have fun! Ps. don’t forget to take a ton of pictures!
Solo trips are a great way to get out of your comfort zone, tune into yourself, connect with different people and cultures and find your way. If you are looking to experience the perfect solo trip that you will never forget, email me at Taylor@sitinmyseats.com or call us today to book your next journey.
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