Travelling on Your Own for the First Time

Travelling without the direction of family or friends can be extremely daunting. Whether it’s a short domestic flight, or a long haul flight with a connection, there are so many things that can go wrong during the course of a journey. Here are some tips I’ve cobbled together from my own experience, in chronological order:

  1. Buy your tickets early, for obvious money saving reasons. As tempting as it is to put off taking the plunge, it’s not worth waiting to see whether you change your mind about the finer details. Just do it, and everything will fall into place around the journey date.
  2. Sort your travel insurance a week before. It’s so easy to buy online, and for not very much money, you’ll be able to enjoy your travels, safe in the knowledge that you’ll be looked after if anything bad happens.
  3. If you’re going somewhere far away or remote, it’s worth looking into portable WiFi. Yes, it’s an extra cost, but it means you can keep in touch, let people back home know you are safe,  and stops you from feeling so isolated. I felt so much more confident when I was able to use Google maps to find my way around.
  4. Check you have changed enough currency for your trip. This includes currency for any country you have a long connection in, just in case you want to get a drink or food.
  5. Try to learn a few words that may be useful in the country you’re going to. Showing that you’ve put some effort in can go a long way with the locals, and you never know when you might need their help. Even learning, ‘hello’, ‘thank you’, ‘sorry’, ‘goodbye’, and ‘I don’t speak [insert language]’, can make life a bit easier once you get there.
  6. Print all your travel documents and insurance papers at least the day before you travel. Factor in how you’re going to get to the airport, and whether that requires extra tickets. I suggest keeping all of these papers along with your passport, in a small plastic wallet. You’ll have to have these to hand many times throughout your journey, so you don’t want to be making fellow travellers wait whilst you root around in your bag.
  7. If possible, check in online before you get to the airport. This way, you only have to find the ‘bag drop’ counter, rather than queuing to answer a thousand questions.
  8. Check that your luggage adheres to the weight limit and regulations before you leave your house.
  9. Make sure you know where to find your flight number and flight details, as well as the address of where you will be staying. These are handy details to know anyway, but especially important if you are going to a country that requires you to fill in an immigration form. You’ll typically be asked for your personal details, your home address, your flight details, the address you’ll be staying at, and the number you can be contacted on during your stay.
  10. On the day of your journey, wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Bear in mind planes get quite chilly.
  11. Use a luggage belt, or something to prevent your luggage from being opened. Furthermore, putting a mark or ribbon on your luggage will make it more easy for you to identify when you pick it up at the other end, and prevent other people mistaking your bag for theirs, especially if the shape and colour is similar.
  12. Try to get to the airport around 2 hours before your flight.
  13. Stay hydrated throughout your journey, and try to avoid alcohol on flights.
  14. On long haul flights, I like to have a little pack containing mosturiser, a toothbrush and toothpaste, lip balm, deodorant, tissues and wet wipes. That way, I can freshen up, and not feel quite so disgusting when I arrive.
  15. Act with confidence, both when travelling, and when you arrive at your destination. It sounds silly, but if you look confident, you’ll feel confident.

Happy travelling!

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