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Your lifestyle, your quirk
You may have read about my recent travels to St. Louis and Kansas City. At one point, I flew out of Kansas City headed for a family vacation in Orange Beach. I was a little upset that I’d miss the SkillsUSA awards ceremony, but I definitely didn’t want to miss vacation! Since I was with a school group out in Missouri, I was going to have to make the flight to Pensacola (the nearest airport) all alone. I’d never flown before, and I was a little nervous! But as it turned out, flying by yourself is a breeze.
Getting to the airport in Kansas City took about thirty minutes, and I was almost late for my flight because I hadn’t had enough time to pack the day before. My flight left at six, and when we got there, it was about five-thirty. My flight was already boarding when I got there, so I just made it in time! That’s one thing you really need to prepare for if you’re flying, especially by yourself. Nobody wants to miss their flight and be stuck in a strange airport alone! You should allow at least an hour to check into your flight, get your bags checked, reach your gate and get boarded. Flights usually board about thirty minutes before their scheduled takeoff, so be sure to be there and allow yourself enough time to get through security, too!
When you get on the airplane, make sure you’ve got lots to do. You won’t be able to use your cell phone in the air, so you’ll need plenty of books and magazines. I wrote some poetry, read a book, and talked to my neighbor while I was on my flight. But not all neighbors are friendly, so keep that in mind!
When your flight touches down, the one thing you need to do is remain calm. When I touched down in Atlanta, I got off at my gate and it was like being thrown out into a circus. There were people running and walking, talking, standing around, there were shops, there were other gates…it was overwhelming at first! But you just have to remind yourself that people do this all of the time. Being flung out into the midst of so many people can be disconcerting, but just remember to keep calm.
You need to find the nearest directory in the airport to get to your nearest gate. Go ahead and take a peek at the overhead boards to find your next flight (if you have a connecting flight), and find a map of the airport so you can find everything you need: baggage claim, gates, food, and more.
If all else fails, you can always ask for help. If the overhead screens confuse you, or you don’t see one, you can always ask at a service desk or any airport personnel. They’re not scary; the people who work at airports are usually super helpful and will take you to your gate if you need them to. Just ask!
I wish you luck on all of your travels; there’s no feeling quite like traveling alone. If you’ve never done it, you certainly need to. It gives you a certain self-reliance and independence you can’t find anywhere else. Getting somewhere alone, unaided…there’s nothing quite like it.
The next time you head somewhere alone, don’t be afraid! Just stay calm and find your flight. And also a pretzel in the terminal. Those are good, too.