When I say travelling, I mean catching a bus and two flights by myself in a foreign country. I didn’t spend four weeks or heck, even a night away, on my own in another country but I did something different and new to me, off the back of a very difficult decision which flipped my summer plans around.
I started my day of travelling home at 7.30 when I left my camp to head to the nearest city, Morganstown, to a catch a bus to Pittsburgh airport. At 8.30, I was on said bus on the hour and a half journey to Pittsburgh airport. From there I managed to check-in with only the flight number as my camp agency booked the flights for me and found myself with a good six or seven hours until my flight to JFK.
By 16.4o I was en route to JFK from Pittsburgh and found myself with another few hours to kill at this airport. All I wanted was to a) start crying b) curl up on the floor as due to a combination of tiredness and feeling icky c) get the hell home. My flight from JFK didn’t leave till 22.15 and I was so exhausted by this point, so ready to see Edinburgh in the morning.
I’d flown home on my own once before but then I was in smaller airports, heading home after two weeks in the sunshine with a friend and I wasn’t moping or feeling down. I was kind of worried that I would want to turn around and go back to camp at any moment but this didn’t happen. Travelling alone is weird. It gives you a chance to think, up there in the sky, with no wifi or communication with the outside world. It gave me a chance to clear my head and start thinking about home and the summer.
As I wanted to kick start my blog this summer, it got me thinking about the posts I wanted to write. This one felt perfect. It felt like it had to be written. The reason I put travelling in the title instead of flying home is these lessons/tips can be used when travelling anywhere/anytime/any mode of transport. Be that a return flight from Australia or a bus journey of 20 miles from your local town to the next one. Happy travelling!
It Is Perfectly Normal And Okay To Ask Questions
I often feel that we, as a society, shy away from asking questions. Don’t know where to go? You stand awkwardly on your phone checking Google maps. Not sure where the bathroom is? Amble around looking for some sort of sign. Really bloody confused? Just fake it and move on. Whilst this is all well and good, I’m a question asker and have no qualms about it. Especially in airports. If you are confused about where to check in/what will happen when you get to your destination/where you need to go for seat assignments/how to transfer your bag once you’ve cleared customs/where the freaking bathroom is, then just ask.
I promise the first time it will be scary and you’ll feel like an idiot but no question is a stupid question and it is much better (and safer) for you if you know what you are doing and feel confident in yourself. Once you’ve asked everything you want to know, just smile, say thank you and head into Duty Free like a girl who knows what she is doing. Oh and I usually ask the check-in person as they are usually the first person you’ll have contact with at an airport.
Keep Your People Updated
I feel the need to WhatsApp my mum constantly when I’m at the airport, just to let her know every single I’m doing. It goes along the lines of “Just eating a McDonalds” “Boarding the plane now, will message when I land” “Might have just blown half of bank balance on NYC merch”. Keeping in contact with people can help you feel less like a small fish in a bloody gigantic pond and it is safer for you if people know where you and what you are doing.
Make Sure You Know Where Everything Is
“Is” umbrellas everything from your passport and money to your gate to where the loo is. Again, questions are your pal here on the external fronts but keeping all your important documents together is up to you when travelling on your own. You no longer have your mum to keep your passport in her special folder with the rest of the family’s, that’s on you now girl. I used a Alphabet Bags Bon Voyage bag which I’ve been using since 2015 and I keep all important things in here so I’m not rummaging in my bag for a boarding pass or cash.
Keeping track of your gate is also important as they often change and you are the only one looking out for it so remember to keep checking regularly and if you are confused, just ask! A final note, don’t leave your bags unattended if you need the loo. Airport reminders telling you not do so will be frequent and you don’t want to be the one that shuts down the airport. I mostly take mine with me but it’s late, the toilet is opposite my gate and I can’t be bothered lugging them, I just ask the person next to me if they will watch them for a couple of minutes whilst I nip to the loo and vice versa, I often then end up doing it for them if they are solo too.
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