Recently, I went to Denver, CO to visit one of my best friends who moved there for work. Not only had I never been there before, but I also had never traveled by myself before. I’d only flown twice before in my life and both times I was surrounded by my family. It’s pretty hard to get lost when you travel with a small army of 9 people (including the in-laws) everywhere you go.
Before I left, my mom drew me a map of the airport, explaining exactly where I should go and where to find my gate. It was helpful in theory, but as soon as I entered the airport all of her well-intended advice flew out the window, and I practically threw my boarding pass at a very kind employee who pointed me in the right direction. Security was pretty quick, but I did have to get patted down because I stupidly wore bobby pins and pants with an excessive amount of zippers.
So I guess Lesson #1 is when in doubt, ask someone for help and Lesson #2 is don’t wear pants that have zippered pockets because then a lady will rub your crotch with the back of her gloved hands and test your fingertips for explosives.
Once I made it through security, my next stop was finding my gate. I got distracted by the bar on the way there, but then decided that maybe a cocktail at 11 A.M. wasn’t a good idea especially since I already felt like I was going to vomit with the anticipation of boarding by myself.
Lesson #3 is to never turn down the bar. It’s been a week and I am still regretting not grabbing a drink to make flying more enjoyable. Instead of a nice cold rum and Coke, I got an iced coffee and a muffin that I couldn’t finish because my stomach was in knots. Again, a quick shot of something would have fixed that rather quickly. Don’t make the same mistakes I did.
Since I am a freak, I got to the airport super early and ended up sitting at my gate for almost 2 hours. But honestly, it was probably for the better since my gate changed. I had to go in the complete opposite direction of where I was, which brought me past the bar yet again, and yet again, I turned it down. Please refer to Lesson #3, NEVER TURN DOWN THE BAR.
Lesson #4 is to always check the screens around you to make sure you are at the right gate in case it does change. When my mom was prepping me, she said that gate changes rarely happen, so of course when I am flying alone for the first time, my gate changes. Lesson #5 is to wear comfortable shoes because whether or not your gate gets changed, you will be doing a lot of walking around the airport. And maybe wearing those flats that are cute but give you horrible blisters is not the best thing to wear.
Lesson #6 is to try and be the first group that boards the plane. My mom told me I would be Zone 1, but I was not. So Lesson #7 is don’t listen to your mother. Just kidding, moms notoriously have pretty great advice; mine just happened to be striking out that day. If you board first, you have the luxury of having your baggage in the compartment above your seat, and you get to get all situated before everyone else boards. I was not that lucky. Both times, to and from Denver, I had to have my luggage put somewhere random on the plane and people were already seated in my row. Lesson #8, if the compartment above your seat it full, try to put your luggage in front of where you are seated because otherwise you will have to wait for the people behind you to get off the plane when it lands before you can get your bag.
Once I landed in Denver, it was just a matter of following signs. I thought I was doing so well. Since my friend was still at work when I arrived, I had to take an Uber to her apartment. It seemed easy enough, so once I was outside I ordered my ride. And right when the car was a minute away, I realized that I was at the wrong exit on the wrong floor. Lesson #9 is to make sure that the dot that represents your location is near the pick-up location. Seems self-explanatory, but you’d be surprised. Luckily, I had a nice driver who waited for me to find him.
Finally, Lesson #10 is to have a good time. Once you’ve made it to your destination, don’t let the little things get to you. Take advantage of the fact that you’re in a new place and just enjoy yourself.
Who do I think I am? I traveled once by myself and I suddenly think I’m Dora the Explorer. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed these off-kilter lessons I learned about traveling.