I recently wrote a blog post on how to enjoy traveling alone, following some eager research to fill the nervous gap between being here in the UK and flying out to the USA alone for the very first time. I thought I would let you know how it went in reality – as giving tips prior to doing something is all well and good…
This is the real stuff, the nitty gritty (not too gritty I hasten to add)!
It was my very first time on a long haul flight, I’ve never been to the USA (even though it’s been a dream destination for many many years) and I’ve most certainly never flown alone before.
Not only was I flying alone on my outbound journey, but also coming home too – eek, scary for somebody who finds “doing London” a bit of a challenge
sometimes all the time – I’m a bit of a country bumpkin!
So, I kept a journal (thank you SO MUCH to Cat at The Teatime Treatery for my fab birthday gift!) throughout my journey and I cannot believe just how much I LOVED every minute of my trip, the scariness soon disappeared and the excitement came over me as soon as I left my front door.
I can’t quite believe just how much travel was involved over the 3 weeks I had planned, including many modes of transport I hadn’t even considered would be taken on… in fact, here’s a run down of the modes of transport I encountered whilst on my epic road trip – it went something a little like this:
▽ Airplane (Heathrow to Toronto)
▽ Airplane (Toronto to Orlando)
▽ Private Car
▽ Stretch Hummer
▽ Private Coach
▽ Mini Bus
▽ Polo Trailer
▽ Back of a truck
▽ Horse & Carriage
▽ Hearse (yup, really!)
▽ Airplane (Orlando to Toronto)
▽ Airplane (Toronto to Heathrow)
Wow, there was a lot of travel involved, ok, not all solo (I met my bearded friend and his lovely family & friends out there for my adventures), but the flying was alone both ways and I’m so stupidly proud of myself for taking this step. It wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be, in fact, it was peaceful and the time flew by as I gave myself the time to unwind, watch films, read a book and blog as I soared through the air and wandered restfully around the terminals. I loved every minute.
I was lucky, no delays either way, no issues, plain sailing – whoop!
So, were my tips in my previous blog useful when it came to traveling alone? Let’s have a quick recap and I’ll let you know!
▽ Pack less than you think you need – I took a big suitcase weighing 19kg and a carry on case weighing 9kg, along with my handbag full of stuff I *thought* might be needed for my journey… half of it I never used, as the insight entertainment was so good! I bought my shampoo & general toiletries out there so I didn’t have any leaking issues and this saved on space not bringing them home too.
▽ Glow with confidence – There wasn’t one delay or issue encountered, I sauntered through each and every airport gate with my head held high, making it look like I had every confidence in what I was doing. The last leg of my journey was the scariest, as I forgot where my baggage reclaim area was on landing in Orlando, but I am a VERY professional “people watcher” and I spotted the guy from the row behind me on my plane, so I followed him confidently and found my bags… and my AWESOME bearded friend with a hand-made “Miss Sue Flay” welcome sign at the arrivals gates *swoon*.
▽ Keep hydrated & freshen up where you can – I drank water everywhere I could – the great thing about airports? Water fountains everywhere and in the US, huge water bottles to take on the flight. If you ask your flight attendant, they will also bring you cups of water, so there’s no excuse. I also made sure I didn’t indulge in the dodgy plane dinners (one was rather suspect, so I ate the salad and kept to my pre-packed nuts & dried fruit to keep me going until landing) and I applied face and hand cream every few hours to keep me refreshed. I couldn’t sleep on the plane though – far too excited en route and past exhausted on way home (in fact, from leaving the US to arriving back in the UK, I didn’t sleep for more than 50 hours – eek!)
▽ Treat yourself – I blogged, I read books, I ate what I fancied, I watched so many films I lost count – I was in my own little bubble and I loved every minute of it. I urge everyone to try flying alone just once and tell me they didn’t enjoy the “me time”. I even enjoyed breakfast at The Perfectionists’ Cafe at Heathrow (This is inspired by Heston Blumenthal’s “In Search of Perfection” TV series) for a delicious poached eggs & bacon with muffins and a huge pot of tea – mmm.
▽ Offer a friendly face and people will want to chat to you. It’s so true, I chatted to all of my travel companions on my flights and had some fascinating conversations with them all. One gentleman had been flying from India to Toronto and had some great tea chat in store for me and one old man on my return journey had just had the holiday of his life with his grandchildren – he had even been micro lighting in Florida and swimming with sharks – I loved hearing everyones travel stories and I would urge everyone who finds themselves sitting next to a stranger to strike up a conversation. One of my fellow travellers even kept an eye on me at one airport after our flight to make sure that I kept safe – she was very sweet.
▽ Don’t take chances, I didn’t leave my baggage unattended, even when popping to the loo or stretching my legs on the plane, I always had my bags with me. When visiting the loo in an airport, take all cases, even if it might feel a little awkward to be ramming a wheeled case into the stall with you – better to be safe than sorry. I had some very special items in my carry on that I just couldn’t afford to lose if I left my case for a couple of minutes, I’m trustworthy to a point, but I was alone and half way around the world – I wasn’t going to ask a stranger to hold my valuables… Would anybody honestly?!
▽ Wear lots of layers – on my way out, I was frozen – it was windy and wet in London and the flight was a chilly one. I took off my shoes, popped some comfortable jersey socks on, had my cardigan on over my shirt and jeans, wrapped up in my complimentary blanket and I was cosy. On the way home, I was baked, so hot on the plane I just couldn’t sleep, so layers are one life saver when it comes to flying, don’t chance it!
▽ Social media is a great tool for keeping you company at the airport. I managed to connect to free wifi in most places and it kept me entertained and was a great way to tease my followers with my journey. I shared sunsets and sunrises, airport geekery and kept updated with what was going on as I went – hurrah for technology!
In fact, I’m ready to fly again – where are we headed?
Shout out your suggestions, I’m all ears…
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Please Note – I paid my own way on this occasion and I am in no means obliged to blog or write about my experience, but I simply choose to share their offerings with my readers, should I enjoy the experience. Any questions or to discuss an independent review or “Secret Stay“, please do email: firstname.lastname@example.org
All images © 2015 Miss Sue Flay, these may not be used or reproduced without written permission from the owner, many thanks in advance.