How to Survive a Flight Solo
I was 21 years old on my first solo flight – 3 hours from New York to Florida. It would be a no-brainer, I thought. Yet as I walked down the air bridge, I began shaking profusely. I was shaking all the way to my seat in terror. I sat in my seat, teeth chattering, watching everyone walk by to see who would be stuck next to me. Late to the plane, a tall, blonde 17-year-old comes over with a huge stuffed animal polar bear. She sits down at the window seat, the stuffed animal on her lap, she pushes her shoes off, and hooks up her iPhone to watch a movie.
“This is my first flight alone,” I say, poking her, as if announcing it would make me feel better.
“Oh, it’s not so bad. I cried during my first flight alone,” she says, with a flick of her hair. She puts her headphones in and curls into a ball in the seat and watches "Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
Somehow, this girl calmed me. She was so relaxed, as if the plane was her bedroom, and she didn’t give a shit that she had a huge stuffed animal with her. I listened to a few guided meditations I had prepared for the flight and then I focused on TV as the plane took off.
Being friendly gets you far.
I have always struck up conversation with the person beside me when I’m alone on a flight. They will either distract me or they will comfort me because everyone knows how scary flying can be. It’s the universal fear (aside from public speaking). We all give each other a break on a flight.
I learned on flights that people are friendly. When you’re stuck with them for a long period of time, you talk to them and you learn. Not every flight will be like this. You might get stuck next to someone who doesn’t want to talk, or you get stuck to someone who is 30 years your senior and talks too much and at the end of the flight he asks you out for lunch the next day. (Yeah, that actually happened.) But it made up for it because my next flight I sat next to a kind family going on vacation to my city, so I got to tell them all of my insider tips.
TO SURVIVE A FLIGHT ALONE
That’s all you need. Stop letting your mind run all the horrible scenarios and accept what's outside of your control—you're on an airplane in the sky, you cannot leave. You're there until the plane lands, so be there in the moment and accept it.
A plane is a place where you get to do stuff you probably wouldn’t have the patience to do. I.e., finish writing that story, read that book, watch that ridiculously long superhero movie, try out that meditation thing people are so gung-ho over.
I am not a doctor and, therefore, I cannot legally give medical advice, but I can tell you about my own experiences. If I am afraid for the upcoming flight and I feel the nerves start to tingle, I take some medicine. It’s prescribed to me by my doctor to take in these scenarios. Motion sickness over-the-counter medication is also good because it will most likely knock you out. If you want to sleep on the plane, test motion sickness medicine before the flight. Try it at home, see how it makes you feel.
*This is not medical advice. Talk to a medical professional before taking this suggestion into practice.
MY OVERALL TIPS FOR FLYING
Don’t eat shitty food before your flight. Look, you’re probably going somewhere nice with good food or you’re coming home to your own kitchen. Don’t waste calories on shitty airport restaurants. Imagine eating an undercooked burger with fries, feeling full, sick, and uncomfortable, and then you’re stuck on a plane with only 2 bathrooms for 2+ hours.
Damn, there’s nothing like hunger on a flight. You are BORED and your “just incase snacks” are going to go quickly. Try timing your snack breaks. Put a timer on your phone for every 90 minutes and let yourself have a snack.
Good snacks for flying:
- protein bars (Quest Nutrition, RXBar, Clif Bars, Grenade CarbKilla, Fulfil)
- grapes (packaged)
- apples (buy sliced apples in a package to avoid airport germs)
- chips / crisps
- pre-packaged sandwiches
- trail mix
Spend $ on a good neck pillow. Your neck and head will thank you. Also, try walking around the airport as much as possible. You’re going to be sitting for awhile. Your bum will get numb. Exercise by exploring all the shops and duty-free options and stand while you’re waiting for your flight. I’ve stood up and stretched my legs on the chair while waiting to board.
Some people say “Fashion Your Seatbelt!” but I think that’s utter nonsense. You want to be comfortable. Plus, you’re surrounded by a lot of germs, so the last thing you want is to wear a nice outfit. You want to wear things you can chuck into the washer ASAP. I wear leggings with a comfortable dress, or sweatpants, and shoes that are easy to take on and off. Thick sweatshirts are good for rolling up to use for lower-back support. You might totally disagree with me but I want to be comfortable on the plane, not fashionable.
Tell me your flying experiences. Whether you get anxious or absolutely love flying, comment below and share your story. I want to hear all about it!