Leaving the world of the familiar behind you for the first time can and most likely will be daunting, so we’ve put together this little guide for you that may help when you go on your first solo adventure, so hopefully you won’t make the mistakes that we did! Tackling the long haul flight for the first time by yourself can be scary. It’s ok to cry as you go through departures!
First time travel can go two ways. You’re either the last minute type that stuffs paperwork amongst your underwear in your day sack, or you’re the organized type that has a folder with your documents for each country in order. From experience, we recommend the latter! If you have your tickets and flight times on paper in the order of your journey, it will make for a seamless and worry free transition between airports. Keep the address to your hotel / hostel in a notebook for when you land, and try to pick up a local SIM card at the airport where they are easily available if you plan on using your phone a lot without Wi-Fi.
To get to Cambodia I stopped in Dubai and Bangkok, both of which are very big, beautiful airports. These may be international airports but it’s still respectful to cover the tops of your arms and legs (a ¾ length sleeve does the trick and will stop you from attracting too many intrusive looks. Do your research. What’s the weather going to be like when you land? Clingy clothes that originally seemed a good idea may not be ideal when you step off the plane at the other side. Lugging a heavy backpack jumping in and out of tuk tuk’s, I felt like my legs had been slowly cooked. The lighter and floatier your attire, the better! Layers are always a good option.
On most long haul flights you will be provided with food. Panicking that I wouldn’t get fed on any of my flights I stocked up in each airport, only to realise that I had been charged a small fortune when I was then offered each meal on the flights anyway!
You can get this in airports and once you arrive but we’ve always found that it’s good to find out what the local currency is and have some on you. Need to take quite a lot? Spread out your money. When you pack separate your money into individual sealable small plastic wallets/ moneybags then hide it amongst your clothes and other belongings. Then if you get separated from some of your luggage, you will never be without cash. The trick is remembering where you put it! Halfway through my trip in Cambodia I remembered that I have $20 in each of the soles of my walking boots that I had been wearing all week. Thank goodness for sealed waterproof moneybags!
Do take a toothbrush with you in your bag with a mini toothpaste when you go on the plane. I bought this in Dubai feeling groggy only to have it taken off me as the toothpaste was over the liquids limit. The toilets in each airport had big enough cubicles to change in if so desired. Taking clean underwear to change into was a bit of a luxury, so if you can fit it in, do!
Trust in your fellow passengers
Not everyone is out to hurt you. If you feel lost trying to find the next departure lounge when you get off the plane, see if anyone else is going your way and follow the crowd. Once you’re inside the airports it’s usually a straightforward process and there will always be information points inside the terminals. Be confident in asking for help. A smile goes a long way, no matter where in the world you are. If you’ve a visa to fill in and pay for to access the country copy what everyone else is doing. There will be a good chance that there are others that haven’t done it before, or someone that does it regularly and can help you.
It’s ok to feel groggy, tried and a little bit grumpy during your tarvels. Have a drink, stretch your legs and if you need to it’s ok to stretch out on a few chairs and have a nap. I used my bag as a pillow and kept the zips under my head so no one could slip their hands inside my bag whilst I was sleeping. Set an alarm on your phone to give you plenty of time to catch the next flight. Whatever you do, don’t leave your phone or passport on the seat if you wake up late!
Start a journal
This is the beginning of a life-changing journey. Trust us when we say that your going to want to re-live every moment of it. Writing a journal is the best way to pass time but also to start to learn about yourself as you write. From the tiniest thoughts and reflections to incredible experiences, let it all flow over pages.
Sleep, sleep sleep.
Don’t be put off by an overnight flight. My journey to Cambodia was surprisingly restful, due to the flight being pretty much empty! If your luck enough to have a row to yourself, take pillows form other empty seats and make a bed for yourself across them. The more you can stretch out the better you will feel when you land at your destination. If you don’t have seats to yourself, go and explore and see if there are any rows free. It doesn’t hurt to make use of an empty row – just let the airhostess know.
If we can manage to get ourselves to the other side of the world by ourselves without getting lost, so can you!