Traveling by airplane to any destination is a stressful process for most individuals. Hectic lines, confusing signs, and constant announcements are enough to distract even the “regular” flyers. When traveling alone, many individuals have a hard time navigating the confusing world that is an airport. I have been flying to visit family and friends since I was a youngster, so I have learned a few tricks and strategies I now utilize as I find myself flying alone with greater consistency. The major things I have learned, which all individuals flying need to pay attention to are punctuality, organization, security.
Plan ahead and arrive early
“Hurry up to wait, don’t wait to hurry up” is a motto that fits well with the airport environment. Ideally, there is never an exact correct time for when to get to the airport. This is because of the differences in international and local airports. Knowing which type of airport you are going to and what time of day can help you determine when you should arrive. Typically arriving one hour ahead of boarding time will allow for plenty of time to check bags in and get through security. Special tip: typically, security gets backed up during earlier flights and this is an area where people will find themselves cutting it close to their flight. In the airport early is on time and on time is late — you don’t want to be late.
Be consistent with where you store travel docs
Keeping track of your belongings in any situation is a given; however, in an airport different precautions must be taken. Years of flying has taught me to always complete these two steps involving organization. The first is to designate a specific spot to consistently keep my passport when it is not in use, like a zippered pocket in a purse or carry-on bag. The reason for this is there are multiple moments throughout international travel where passports need to be presented. By creating a consistent area to keep your passport you significantly decrease the chances of misplacing it in the airport, as well as allowing yourself to move more efficiently through the airport.
The second step goes hand-in-hand with step one; as soon as you’re done with the checkpoint that required your passport, immediately put it away. Do this directly after the authorities finish doing what they needed with it, specifically before walking away. Both steps could be applied to all types of items (forms of ID; boarding passes, etc); I chose to specifically highlight the passport because it is vital for your international travel.
Keep your valuables secured
Precautions are always important when taking on the new experience of flying alone. In terms of international travels there are always a few tricks that can help save possible troubles in the future. Traveling to a foreign country that is less developed than the US requires a bit more thought when packing. One additional measure I recommend is using locks on checked bags. If you don’t own luggage locks, you’ll need to keep any expensive jewelry and electronics or shoes in your carry-on and place everything else in your checked bag. You may not need to buy locks for every piece of luggage, but it’s important to strategize what you’ll place in each piece of luggage you take.
Imagine being in a building with 250,000 other travelers and 2,500 different flights. This is on average how many people and flights are circulating through an airport each day. For a first timer everything is new and can be petrifying. I now know the ins and outs of airports to the point that I feel more than confident traveling alone. Keeping the key ideas of timeliness, management, and security of belongings in mind is all a person needs to focus on when traveling.
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