The Reality of Traveling Alone for the First Time

Excitement. Happiness. Homesick. Joy. Fear. Frustration. Confused. Sadness. FOMO. Anxious. EXHAUSTION. All emotions & symptoms, and maybe more that I have gone through within the past five days.

My parents drove me from RI to Boston, MA to the Logan airport on January 20, 2017 at 4pm. Snapchats were sent and received. Carsickness appeared. Teary eyes almost turned into waterfalls…but I blocked the spout with positive words running through my mind, like for example, “You can do this!”

By the time we got to the airport, I thought I was going to throw up. The carsickness really got to me. I was sweating from wearing layers, & I was so distracted that the only thing I had to drink that day was a detox smoothie. I luckily founda water bottle  in the backseat, which I chugged. 

My Dad dropped my Mom and I off so I could check my big suitcase, & to wait for my boyfriend to come. My suitcase ended up being 55 pounds, and the limit is 51 pounds. I thought it was 50, but maybe it’s different for international flights. The lady was nice and let it slide, but reminded me that London is very strict when flying out of there. My backpack & carry-on were both so full that there was no way I could fit anything else in there. You can’t blame me though. Packing for 3 1/2 months is difficult. 

After a little while, my Dad was siting with my Mom and I, and my boyfriend came. It was our three-month anniversary. Imagine that. Leaving the country on your anniversary. It was tough to say the least. I’m tearing up as I’m typing this. I didn’t want to let go of him. I didn’t want to let go of his hands. I didn’t want to let go of his warmth. I did not want to let go of him. But something we would never let go is our relationship. Yes, we’ve only been dating for slightly over three months now, but our relationship is so strong. We’ve known each other for over a year before dating, and we’re definitely not the type of couple to “take a break,” while I’m away for 3 1/2 months…that’s silly. There’s no doubt in my mind that when I come back, we’ll be even stronger. We communicate everyday, and it makes us both very happy. 

My Mom, Dad, & boyfriend walked me to the front of security. They could not go through there with me. This is when the waterworks started happening. I hugged my mom, started feeling it, and tried to hold back the tears. I hugged my Dad, and that’s definitely when I started getting teary-eyes, but once again, tried holding it back. Then I hugged my boyfriend. The waterfall broke through the spout. His response? “You can’t ruin your makeup!” God I love him. That moment was difficult for sure though. Once he said those words I  quickly started wiping my undereyes because I did put makeup on, and I was not about to look like a hot mess walking through the airport while trying to make friends. No no. You could definitely tell that I cried, but thanks to makeup setting spray and setting my concealer, black streaks did not appear on my face. 

I started to walk through security by myself. I had always traveled with family, so I knew what I was doing, but I was alone. 

But in fact, I wasn’t alone. 

God was with me. Everyone was beside me in spirit during the process. My gut was there to trust. There were at least forty other young adults going through the exact same thing, in the exact same airport. And all of those young adults were in my program.
 

I walked through the line to security with a million feelings and emotions, handed the person my info & passport, and headed towards a line of strangers. It was a little after 6:30pm at this point. I got into a line and realized how much I had to take off and take out. I didn’t realize we could keep our jewelry on. I took off the necklace my boyfriend bought me – that felt weird. I didn’t want anyone to steal it. It reminds me all of his love for me, and that he’s always there for me, even in spirit. I took off our distance bracelets, and I basically almost broke a bracelet that one of my best friend’s bought me for my birthday. But it’s all good, it was just tight squeeze, and I had to get it off my wrist quickly. I took out and took off the normal stuff. Lucky me. I had to get my carry-on checked. What in the world did I put in there that made someone take out everything in front of everyone. Surprisingly, I wasn’t embarrassed. The man started looking at my vitamins and my power green powder that basically determines if I have energy or not that day. He really started looking at the powder containers (both unopened). And no, there are no drugs in there, sir. You’re looking at the wrong girl for that one. Can’t a constantly tired & low-energied (is that a word?) girl just get some safe, natural energy around here? Jesus Christ. It was not the power greens powder, it was a tube of toothpaste. I had to go buy a travel-sized one. 

After leaving security and the small shop, I had to go find my gate. Gate 8. I went the opposite direction, because that direction had gates close to the number 8. Naturally, I thought it was over there. Nope. Anxiety & frustration started kicking in. I thought I was going crazy. That direction said gates 9-whatever, and the other direction said gates 1-7, and pardon my language, but I was like, where the fuck is my gate. There was not a sign in sight. I finally had the courage to ask someone because I was ready to lose it…in the middle of an airport. I headed in the direction past security and found my gate. Weird looking gate area, but hey, they had charging stations. I plugged my phone in, and I had to sit at a weird angle with all of my stuff, because my cord was long, but not long enough. After looking around, I realized there weren’t many students in my gate. I texted our Facebook group for the Boston flight, and asked if anyone was in gate 8. Most were in gate 9, which did not make sense to me. A girl from the program replied back saying she was walking towards gate 8, and I saw her, and we started talking. There was a guy that she had previously talked with who was sitting diagonal from me, and I had no idea.

This girl helped my anxieties go away almost immediately, and helped me any questions I had with boarding and the plane. 

It was time to board the plane. There was quite a lot of people on that flight. It was the biggest plane I had ever seen/been on in my life. I had never been out of the country, so it was all new to me. The plane went on forever. My seat was 24E (I may be getting that mixed up with another number from my other flight, so I’ll check on that later). I have no idea why, but I kept thinking my letter was C, even though I was looking for the number, and the letter E the whole time I was walking on the plane. I’m thinking it was one of God’s hints. I sat in the row with the letter C. I met another girl who was also in the same program, and we started making conversation. About 10 minutes later, I was informed that I was in the wrong seat, and I had to move my stuff to the four-seater across, and I was unfortunately not in the aisle seat. I was in the second seat to the left, with no room. My backpack didn’t fit under the seat, so I hid it with my jacket, and I was not getting up again. The plane was so hot and I was sweating just from struggling to put my heavy carry-on in the overhead, and going from one row to the other. I was also stuck in between two men. One in the aisle seat who was older with an accent, and the other one who was probably around my age. He seemed like a nice person, but he was uh, interesting. 

I had never been in an airplane with mini tv screens on the backs of the seats, and your armrest was a remote with a headphone jack. If I remember correctly, I had never been on a red-eye flight. They provided thin-ish pillows that looked like they were made out of paper towels. I gotta be honest with you…sorry British Airways. And also on everyone’s seat was a blanket in wrapping. I had my 2-in-1 blanket and blow up mini pillow with me, and the blanket the plane provided was surpringly extremely warm. They had good movies. Guys, I watched Finding Dory. It couldn’t get any better than that. BA provided meals on on the plane. You choices were either Pasta or Curry Chicken. Can you guess what option I went with? The pasta was actually really good, but I was also starving. There was a mini salad and dressing on the side, a roll with butter, a teacup, a mini container of water, a plastic untensil pouch with salt packets and what not, & a mini dessert item. The dessert had a mix of milk & dark chocolate and it tasted great, until I started tasting cherries, and that was about it for me. Fruity flavors mixed with chocolate & the texture of nuts & chocolate I cannot handle whatsoever. 

Then there comes the late hours of the night, and I started doing that head bobbing thing that I do when I’m falling asleep in public. Yeah, I did that a lot. Thank god the lights were off and the two men were asleep. 

I barely slept on that flight. We were pretty much flying over water the whole time, so the turbulence was keeping me up and scaring me, but I literally told myself to chill every time I felt scared. 

And before I knew it, it was after 7am, and I was five hours ahead in the London time zone. I finished Finding Dory, and started watching Rio. Guys I’m telling you, you gotta get yourself on one of these planes. 

I got my heavy carry-on, backpack, coat, and a new mindset ready to go.

 I will actually be continuing this story in another blog post. A blog post starting from where I left off, to my last day in London. Then Rome, & so on.

The point of this blog post is of course to update everyone, but also because I wanted people to read & understand the true reality of being young, & what it can be like to travel for the first time alone. Everyone’s situation is different. This was my experience. A good & frustrating one. One I won’t ever forget. It was the start of my new journey. No matter what age you are, always remember that you are not alone.
xx   Jordan

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