Saying goodbye to your loved ones is always harder than you imagine it will be. I found this out the hard way on route to the airport. Out of nowhere tears were threatening to stream down my face. It was so embarrassing, and being the London Underground there was nowhere to seek refuge. I felt betrayed more than anything. There I was after months of planning and getting excited about my trip, becoming a wreck at the thought of leaving my family and friends behind. There’s something about travelling far away that, although hugely exciting, can make a couple of months seen like forever at the beginning of your trip. At that moment I had never felt more daunted by solo travel and so uncertain about whether I`d made the right decision.
You can research all the packing lists in the world for your chosen destination and for better or wose it will never go completely to plan. It was a lesson I learned as I spent ages on Amazon trying to find a worldwide trave adapter only to find that when I got to New Zealand it of course and to my horror didn`t work. I honestly didn`t think I was ever going to find a UK to New Zealand travel adapter but luckily one quick Google led me to a shop just a mere ten minute walk from my hostel where I happily struck gold. Packing lists don’t have to be final before you go away. Unless you`re planning a trip to the Antarctic, you`re going to find most things at your destination and it’s fun to complete your wardrobe with interesting garments and accessories along the way.
Solo travel can and does get lonely. I`m not talking about the hostels of course. They are well-known to be social hubs for the travelling community. But the actual travelling itself, the flights and the long layovers at huge international airports can have an impact. After what felt like the longest twelve-hour flight, I landed at Hong Kong airport and had another six hours to kill before I boarded the next plane to Auckland, New Zealand. Bleary and sleep deprived it occured to me how far across the world I had come and how far away from everything and everyone I knew. Despite my determination to test myself as a solo traveller, I did find myself missing the companionship of a familiar face in transit and I envied the couples who could lean up against each other and snooze.
If you want first-class treatment on a long-haul flight but can`t quite afford to splash out on the ticket, put yourself down for a speciality meal. I requested a vegetarian meal for my flight thinking nothing of it in particular. However, during the flight I was given my meal at least ten minutes before everyone else. It wasn`t particularly special and I was aware they wanted to get all the dietaries out of the way before serving the cabin, but I was starving so it suited me just fine! Nothing makes you feel like royalty on a flight than having your own special meal brought to you with your name on it.
Even if you think jet lag hasn’t hit you, it will, and it will casually remind you of its existence as soon as you attempt to negotiate any social setting. It will turn your mind to fluff before you know it and will strike just at the moment you attempt any sort of activity which requires brain cells. Even making conversation was challenging for me. When a cheerful girl asked me what I was cookin with my pasta in the hostel kitchen it took everything I had to mumble `cheese` before making a rapid retreat to the safety of my private room (a small luxury I awarded myself for the first few days of my trip). Sometimes you just have give in and succumb to a few days of sleep before you can continue on your travels.
You surprise yourself with how well you can do in an unfamiliar environment. I’m honestly amazed at how I managed to navigate Hong Kong airport in such a jetlagged and sleep deprived state, or better still how I made it from Auckland airport to my hostel. By this point I didn’t even know what was up or what was down. But somehow I made it without much memory of how I got there. It goes to show that no matter how much sleep deprivation and jetlag conspire against you your resourcefulness and sheer attempt to just keep going always pulls through in the end.
I`ll leave you with a little travel hack here. If you see travel SIM cards for sale in the duty-free section of the airport you`ve just landed at it pays to pick it up there and then. This is because you get a 15% discount on the exact same SIM card you can ge elsewhere. It`s hard to think about duty-free when you land when all you want to do is just get through immigration an be on your way to your accommodation so you can relax and get into holiday mode. But if you need a SIM card it`s definitely worth it to get it over and done with. And they`re even willing to set it up for you. It’s so simple and definitely worth the time and pennies saved!
Thanks for reading,