Katie Gough, Jun 5th 2015, 14:50
Flying on your own I would say is one of the first hurdles you will come across, but like many of the challenges on a year abroad once you've conquered it once, it will become almost normal the next time!
Firstly when sorting out your flights, make sure that you are flying at a good time and make sure that if you have to do any interconnecting flights you make sure that you have at least a couple of hours in between just to give yourself some peace of mind that you will be able to get where you have to go next and have sometime to relax for a while too! The same goes for arriving at the airport in good time too for checking in etc, I personally got to the airport the night before and stayed at a hotel close by so that I could relax a little more, as I was incredibly concerned about timing.
If its possible to get a direct flight to wherever you are going, I would definitely say that is a good option for when you are flying alone for the first time, interconnecting flights can be challenging and often mean you are travelling for longer, so if you can avoid them then it might be worth even paying a little more, rather than having something else to worry about.
The main thing that kept me so calm I think was having everything as organised as possible, whether that be before leaving, in the airport or upon landing in your host country. Make sure you have all your flight times, numbers, gates etc all wrote down somewhere, and also leave them on a note back home with family so that they can track online and know where you will be and when. In terms of organisation you might also like to see if it's possible for someone to meet you when you land. With my host university there was a scheme with the international office and the erasmus group, which meant that someone was waiting for me and took me to my new place as soon as I got there, which was incredibly reassuring.
In terms of airport navigation etc, UK airports should be no problem as there are always people who can help you out, and should you need assistance in airports abroad, people will always speak English to you if you are struggling to find the right vocab, so don't worry about that at all!
So you make it finally onto the plane, and I admit it might be a bit scary, but that's natural! The best thing to do is book yourself a good seat, turn on your favourite music, admire the views and think about how proud you will be after you've made this step! Have a bit of a cry if you need to and even try and get chatting to someone sitting next to you as that can be a good distraction. Other than that maybe take a pen and paper and document how it's going, look around you and write about your fellow travellers and wonder where their journey will take them today.
It's a big step, but I promise it only gets easier!
Good luck with everything!
Hannah Roberts, Jun 28th 2015, 21:16
I'd say everything that Katie's said! If you're a bit scared of flying, something that really helped me was booking an aisle seat (or just booking a seat somewhere you feel the most comfortable) because I didn't have to see out the window, and also at the front of the plane because there's a little less movement there than at the back. Some airlines will charge you for this however, I think Ryanair is about a fiver (or even a tenner depending on where you are on the plane), which is a bit of a pain but I thought it was worth it. If you really need to and can afford to, try using priority boarding/speedy boarding (whatever your airline calls it) because it means you can get on the plane before everyone else, get settled and get your suitcase space (one of the most annoying things by far this year has been the lack of cabin space so it's good to get in early!) As far as distraction goes, Katie was right about your favourite music. I listen to mind during take off/landing to take my mind off what's going on! If you've got a tablet or a phone you can watch movies on, try putting some movies on there too as they're a good distraction. By the end of this year you'll be an expert flyer! Good luck! x