Tips from an Ex First-Time Flyer

Madison Pimental University of Manchester, England


January 23, 2020
Currently Studying at: University of Manchester, England
Homeschool: Stonehill College

I never would have thought that I would be boarding a plane to leave my friends and family for six months in an entirely new location, but you know, things happen. You may not believe it but flying over to London was my first time flying ever in my life. As I video called my friend from the airport, waiting to board, her eyes widened as we both realized how crazy I was. The farthest I’ve voyaged was from New England was Florida, and we drove over a day to get there. Flying is much different than sitting in a car for 24 hours – who would’ve thought?

While my flight did make me a little dizzy (thank you to the kind woman next to me who showed me that the middle seat had head rests), I surprisingly felt okay! I flipped through the movie selection, listened to music, and tried to catch some sleep before I hopped over the pond. My departure was at 9:30 at night and my expected arrival was 9:00 AM – it was a startling time difference for me. When I landed, I got to explore London for a few days before heading North to Manchester. I loved London, but I’m so excited to explore Manchester! 

To the first-time flyer, or even if you’re just flying alone for the first time, here’s some tips from an ex first-time flyer:

Arrive early. You’ve probably heard this already hundreds of times, but it’s true! I arrived at around 6:45 for my 9:30 flight. I did end up waiting around the gate for an hour, but I preferred waiting than running around frantically trying to board. 

Don’t bring too much in your carry-on. I thought I would be so bored on the plane that I would need tons of entertainment – I brought my laptop, headphones, two books, journals, etc. In reality I only really used my headphones to watch movies on the plane. My flight wasn’t too long, so you might need something different, but if your flight is 6 hours or less consider packing light. It makes traveling from terminal to terminal a lot easier when you don’t have to carry a heavy backpack and a suitcase (or if you’re me, suitcases...). 

Bring melatonin and ibuprofen. Melatonin is an over the counter sleep aide (and natural!) that can make falling asleep easier on the plane. If you’re like me, you may get the middle seat, which can make it feel like it’s impossible to sleep. I brought a neck pillow, but it didn’t personally make a difference for me. Also, I had a major headache when I landed and had to buy ibuprofen at the airport (my first purchase in England!). Save the money and headache and bring some with you!

Drink water. If your airline provides it, drink it! It’s important to stay hydrated while traveling. Maybe you could avoid the post-flight headache, unlike me.

Don’t be afraid to move around. It can be a hassle to leave your seat if you’re not in the aisle seat, but if the person next to you isn’t sleeping, don’t be afraid to ask! Use the “lavatory” even if you don’t really need to – it might be good to stretch your legs. 

And those are my quick tips! If the idea of flying for the first time makes you scared to go abroad, hopefully this puts you at ease. See ya soon!