Facing Fears: Flying Alone

8 Top Tips for an Anxious Flyer

A few days ago I arrived home, tanned (for once) and refreshed, after 3 incredible weeks exploring the dynamic and fascinating wonders of Spain. I’d received a last minute call from my lovely grandparents, inviting me to catch a flight to join them on their camper van adventures from Valencia to Madrid. Of course I jumped at the opportunity! It was so out of the blue and I couldn’t wait to explore a country that had always been on my bucket list!!!

But despite feeling so excited and lucky to be spontaneously jet setting off in a few days time, anxiety inevitably showed it’s ugly face. The problem was that I’d never flown on my own before. I’d flown many times with family and friends in the past, but this was different.  And I’ll be honest, the thought of being by myself in a crowded airport terrified me. What if I lose my passport? What if my luggage goes missing? What if I lock myself in the public loos and miss my flight? Or worse still, what if I somehow get on the wrong plane by mistake and find myself landing in the wrong country and then lose my phone charger and have to spend the rest of my years homeless on a beach somewhere? Stressful stuff.

I’ve learnt over the years that my initial instinctive reaction to new and challenging situations is often fear. No matter how rational and logical I try to be, this feeling is sometimes unavoidable. This is a trait which I like least about  myself because it means that my thoughts are often conflicted. And it sucks. At heart, I’m an adventurous and extroverted person; keen to see and do new things. But that voice in my head yelling  ‘You can’t do it!’ is often hard to mute.  If I’ve learnt anything through my teenage years, it’s that the best way to deal with fear is to throw yourself into it head on. You gotta push past the doubt and insecurity if you want to truly have fun and make memories.

So I packed my things and headed through those airport doors alone. And what I found surprised me. The process was so straightforward and fool-proof that I felt kind of embarrassed for worrying about it in the first place… I made it onto the plane in no time ( and I didn’t even lose my passport once! Shocker.)

I thought this week I would compile a list of some tips that I found made my airport/flight experience as stress free as possible. Perhaps this can help reassure any first time or nervous flyers out there:

1) Check and double check. Check your airline’s website so that you know what you are allowed to pack in your main case and in your hand luggage. You don’t want to start your holiday heartbroken when your poshest perfume gets confiscated at customs.   I had keep all  liquid toiletries in my hand luggage in containers no larger than 100ml, and these had to  be sealed in a clear plastic bag and  declared at security.

2) Keep the essentials together. I found a small plastic folder and kept my passport, boarding pass, ehic card and insurance details inside this.  I felt calm and prepared knowing that I didn’t have to root around in my bag to find the important stuff.

3) Be organised. To prevent a manic panic the morning of your flight, organisation and preparation are key. I made sure that I was fully  packed the night before, that my airport outfit was laid out and that everything was ready to go. This meant I was able to leave the house in no time at all the next morning, rather than rushing around like a crazy person trying to grab whatever I needed. Which made a nice change.

4) Keep your carry on bag light. I have always been a professional over- packer. Although I crammed half my wardrobe into my main suitcase, I proudly managed to restrict my hand luggage to just essential items. However, this was  easier said than done.  I find lugging around a heavy bag at the airport makes the whole experience feel way more chaotic. Minimizing heavy luggage= less stress and straining shoulders 🙂 *I have a blog post coming very soon showing what I pack in my hand luggage, so be sure to give that a read if it’s up your street*

5) Get a good nights’ sleep before your flight. To make sure I felt wide awake and focused at the airport in the early hours of Monday morning, I aimed to get a good 8 hours of shut eye the night before.  Try to have your luggage packed well in advance, allowing yourself the headspace to wind down into a great nights’ sleep without worrying about if you have everything ready. Time keeping is essential at the airport so it helps to feel well rested and alert beforehand. ( A strong coffee the morning of a flight never hurt anyone either…)

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6) Stand out in the crowd. When you are waiting at the luggage collection belt, the best way to save time is to make sure your luggage stands out amongst a sea of similar looking bags. You could invest in a brightly patterned suitcase, or tie something noticeable onto your luggage. My suit case is black, so I tied a red spotty bandana to the handle. This helped me to spot my case quickly and I stepped out of Valencia airport in no time at all!

7) Energise. Even in busy situations, it’s important to make sure you feed up your body with enough energy to face the day. So scout out the nicest looking coffee shop and pick out your favourites. I made sure I had time to grab some breakfast and a coffee from Pret before my flight. (It was soooo good).

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8) Just Relax.  If you’re a nervous traveller, I would suggest bringing items onto your flight that you know will help you relax. This may be listening to your favourite music, a podcast, engrossing yourself in a good book or picking up your favourite snacks from duty free! Bring what you know will make you feel as comfy and happy as possible, and you’ll be good to go!

I hope these tips help you on your travels! My solo flying experience was so simple and has made me so excited for future trips and adventures. Happy travelling!

 

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