Adventure / Book / Travel

The Airport Express

All packed up and ready to go – that’s where I find myself now. As a (now) frequent flyer, the airport experience is usually predictable now, but it’s not without its surprises. The following is for anyone who doesn’t travel alone, internationally, a lot.

While flying’s relatively easy to do now, it can be daunting for some first-time flyers or for anyone who doesn’t fly alone a lot. Some people may say that if you fly alone, you’re more likely to be lost, miss your flight, or do something else that’s dire to your situation. However, I don’t think any of that is true. As someone who’s flown alone (internationally) 5+ times alone this year alone (and is about to do so again tomorrow), I can say that it’s not the heavy task it’s made out to be.

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If you’re anything like me, you don’t mind a little independence, and may even thrive on it. Being alone as a traveler is, in my opinion, a great way to learn about a lot of things – how to navigate in an unfamiliar area, how to pick out the right people to ask in the event of needing assistance, and the general procedures that go along with flying. If you’ve never flown alone, you may find that always having someone with you (especially if they’re older than you) might result in being overly-dependent on someone else. Getting out there on your own can make you rather travel-suave.

For example, while I’ve always been an efficient packer, I now know exactly what I need any time I travel. The necessities for packing do vary in terms of region, but when you have to consistently make those decisions on your own, you develop a sense of knowing exactly what to take with you and what doesn’t need to be brought along. If you usually over-pack, you may eventually find that you pack well below the maximum amount allowed and get by adequately.

Moreover, flying alone means you’ll know where to go and what to do when flying out. Domestic travel is easy regardless of who’s with you, but flying international usually equates to dealing with more paperwork, and is generally more of a hassle. As generally all of my travels this year so far have been to the United States, I know which forms to fill out, where to go when I get to a connecting airport, and what to do at the security checkout. Speaking of which, security lines can seem long and tedious at the beginning stages, but are quick-to-pass as you learn how to efficiently unpack and pack your travel bags and materials.

Despite all these advantages, none of these are my favourite benefit to flying alone; that would be the need to rely on yourself. While airports are usually helpful in finding where to go or what to do in any case, when you fly alone, a part of you has to be completely open to anyone at any time. You no longer have the comfort of a family member or friend to get you by, to answer your questions, or even keep you company. You develop a sense of independence (if you don’t already have that), and eventually learn the airport-lingo. In recent times, I’ve had to deal with damaging delays, missed connections (due to… delays), re-bookings, not-as-helpful airport staff, and unsatisfactory service. I’ve had to learn that running from one end of an airport to another with two suitcases is completely acceptable. I’ve also had to learn that, sometimes, no matter how well-spoken you are, some airport staff won’t understand your accent. Regardless, flying alone is actually a great experience, and is something every person should do at least once.

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