I love flying. However it’s fairly easy to see why not everyone is a huge fan of the idea. Whether you’re an international student, a uni student who’s already preparing for that Easter Break trip, or both – these tips are for you if you are flying on your own. Hopefully you’ll come to enjoy it as much as I do.
1. Make a checklist.
Since you may be bringing a lot with you, it might be overwhelming to make a checklist of every single thing. So, make a checklist of everything you would be devastated to have left behind. If this isn’t you, then go ahead and make the big list! It’s never really too early to start packing.
2. Make plans to show up on time…
This seems like a no brainer, but it never hurts. If you’re flying internationally you want to be in the process of checking in a few of hours before your flight takes off. Is traffic something you usually have to worry about? Or making a scene while crying goodbye to your family at the airport? Plan for everything.
3. …and arrange your coach/train ticket accordingly.
If you’re not landing in the city that you’ll be staying in, you’ll most likely be taking a coach or train to get there. Some may want to purchase their ticket once they’re there, but I don’t recommend this. And you don’t want to have just landed and realize you only have 15 minutes until your coach is gone.
4. You want easy to spot luggage.
If you’re in the process of buying luggage, make sure it’s brightly coloured or use a neon luggage belt on it. When you see it, you shouldn’t have to wonder whether or not it’s yours.
5. Pack your carry on smartly.
Each time you fly there is a chance that you could lose your luggage. This chance is dependent on the airline and whether or not you have connecting flights. Should this happen to you, wouldn’t it be awful to open your carry on and realize that it’s filled with candy, old notebooks, and a pillow you didn’t need to bring? Pack your carry on with everything you know you would need in a week without your luggage. A couple of changes in clothes, all necessary documents, and your TSA permitted toiletries seem a good place to start.
6. Check in ahead of time.
Most major airlines offer this as an option online, and it will give you peace of mind. You’ll still have to check your luggage, but it’s one less step for you to worry about.
7. Be TSA Prepared.
Outerwear, shoes, and belts? Off. Laptop and TSA approved liquids? In the screening bin. Knowing what’s to come might help you feel less frazzled once it’s your turn and it feels like it’s taking you 45 minutes to get your shoes off.
8. Get to your gate ASAP, then wander.
Speaking as someone who has made the mad dash to her gate 15 minutes to take off, it’s not really an experience anyone needs. If you’ve arrived on time, find your gate and relax, use the restroom, and get some food. You’ll have plenty of time to crack open that novel you promised yourself you would read during the flight.
9. Dress comfortably.
Skinny jeans and 8 hour flights simply don’t mesh. Wear clothing that breathes and keeps you warm. No matter the destination, it gets cold up there.
10. Seating is pretty crucial.
You won’t care how bright your luggage is or how comfortably you dressed while you’re seated in the back by the bathrooms, able to feel every gust of wind that the plane encounters. This is another solid reason to check in online. Even if you don’t, check in with time to spare and ask for some seating options before your boarding pass is printed.
If you’re someone who is or feels they would be affected by turbulence, be sure to get a seat by the wings of the plane. That section of the plane experiences less movement during turbulence. Still worried? Take a morning flight too. Thunder storms are less likely to occur in the early morning and wind speeds are usually slower. However, this is dependent on where you’re flying from and to. Is the idea of waking up before 5am to make sure you catch your 7am flight just as nauseating as turbulence? Try an overnight flight and see if you can sleep through it all.
12. Don’t forget flight etiquette.
It’s pretty basic. It’s a fairly cramped space and you’re literally flying in the sky. So, don’t invade other people’s personal space and don’t raise your voice unnecessarily. Just to be clear, the picture below is an example of what NOT to do.
13. Stay hydrated.
You need water, even at 39,000 feet in the air. If you get off the flight, and wonder why you feel like an empty husk of the person who boarded the flight, ask yourself: how much water did I drink? Or, just skip all of that and drink plenty of water during your flight.
14. Be patient.
You asked a flight attendant for juice and you haven’t gotten it yet? The baby 2 rows down is still crying? And the person behind you is actively trying to give you the flu? Let it go. You’ll get your juice, the baby hates flying more than you do and… Maybe ask if you can move seats? Because starting university with the flu – not recommended.
15. Bring a snack.
All these jokes about airline food and you’d think that I would’ve learned by now. But I remember having a great meal on a flight when I was about 7 and I keep hoping to recreate the moment. However, I do bring snacks in case of a disappointing meal. I always eat the snack. Certain foods are allowed on flights, just check ahead so it doesn’t end up being thrown away during your security check.
16. Antibacterial wipes.
Remember the person behind you with the flu? Well there are more of them on your flight. And sure, major airlines do their best to sanitise the cabin, but do you really think they got everything? Wiping down your seat, armrests and tray should give you some peace of mind.
17. Prepare for jet lag.
If you’re crossing more than two time zones, jet lag is coming for you. Travelling west? You gain time. Travelling east? You lose time. And yes, when you’re travelling east the jet lag hits harder. Just get rest while adjusting your sleep pattern to the time zone you’ve landed in.
18. You need a fully charged phone.
You’ve decided not to use any of the entertainment sources provided to you on your flight. Instead, you watch a movie that you’ve downloaded to your phone, or spend the next few hours playing Candy Crush. When you land, your battery is depleted, as is your power bank, and it takes you a while to charge your phone enough to alert your parents to the fact that you’ve landed safely. In this time, your family has organized a search party and offered a reward for information concerning your whereabouts. That one yearbook picture you’d like to pretend simply didn’t happen? It’s circulating on several news channels.
Is this scenario far fetched? Yes. Does it get my point across? I like to think so.
Your phone isn’t just a source of entertainment. Don’t treat it like it is.
19. Please, follow the rules.
They’re there for a reason. Turn off your phone and other electronic devices when asked to. Secure your seat belt when you’re supposed to. And don’t try to adjust your seat before the plane takes off.
20. Get excited!
You’re going away to learn about something that you’re (hopefully) passionate about! You are about to experience a new culture! You’re gonna make new friends! And it all really starts in the air.
Did any of this help? Do you have other tips when flying on your own that aren’t included above? Comments, questions, or opinions? Let me know!
I love airport style, The Office (US), and my large family. Pharmacy student at University of Nottingham.