As We Grow
Growing is hard, let’s just admit it.
Whether you’re getting older, having to work on developing a skill, or expanding your own knowledge, growing can be quite difficult. However, with growth comes many new and exciting opportunities, several of which involve establishing your independence and going off on your own. These opportunities include the newfound freedom of a driver’s license, a job, earning money, using a credit card, and galavanting around town on your own offering a feeling like none other.
As we grow, we get the chance to learn about ourselves and all that independence has to offer us. Yet, independence can often be intimidating, as it is largely uncharted territory for many of us. We all have different levels of comfort, and these are unique to everybody. Some of us are more on the reserved side, while others take every chance of adventure we possibly can. Many find comfort in the usual day-to-day routines, and others are always looking for a chance at something new.
Let me quickly introduce myself. My name is Eve, and I’m one of these very individuals currently figuring out their own way through uncharted waters. As a 16-year-old, I’m trying to get to know myself as I am just starting to experience the world on my own, and through my own eyes. The freedom I’ve gained in the past year through earning my license, taking part in several jobs, and making my own money has introduced me to experiences I never could have imagined. Recently, I took a life-changing trip on my own. Yes, on my own! Flying solo was a very new world filled with so many ups and downs, and I can only wish that I can provide others with advice on tackling their own independence, and staying sane throughout the process.
Growing is hard, that’s for sure, and I hope learning from my experience can make yours a little easier.
Preparing, Packing, and…uh…Panicking
Preparing for things, especially new things, can be a very daunting task. I mean, how do you even begin? Well first things first, turn to someone who has done this before! That way, you’ll have an idea about what you should be doing, and then, based on this baseline, you may learn how to adjust it to your own circumstances moving forward. And today, I am that person who can help you out! So let me give you the rundown:
Look ahead: See what’s going on where you’re headed: What’s the weather like? What events will be taking place? What activities do you want to take part in while you’re there? What areas are you planning to visit? How will you get there? How much is everything going to cost you? There are so many things to consider. My best advice is to try to visualize exactly how you want each day to go, and write down everything that comes to mind so you can look it all up later!
Make a list: I’m not kidding about this one. Seriously, it’s probably the most important advice I could pass along to you. Flying solo and traveling on your own means that you’ll be spending a lot of time with “me, myself, and I,” so you better be sure that you’ve got everything you need. Sit down for 15-20 minutes and start jotting down every possible thing that you can think of that would need to be packed for the trip. And I mean, everything from clothes, shoes, socks, and toiletries to gum, bags, portable chargers, and Tylenol. The last thing you need when traveling alone is the added stress of unorganized packing.
Pack in advance, and as light as possible: Packing at least 2 days before you head off may sound unnecessary, but not when you’re doing it alone. If you pack in advance, you can take the time to double and triple-check that you’ve got everything, and also reconsider your decisions. Overpacking is easy to do, but it won’t always work in your favor. From my experience, traveling carry-on is one of the best things you can do for your solo travel. No need to worry about checking luggage or baggage claim when you can just avoid these things altogether! As someone who’s traveled most of my life, even as a part of a family of five, we’ve always traveled with just carry-on bags. Even when flying to Australia, we keep it to only a carry-on knowing that we’re avoiding overpacking and additional hassle.
Don’t freak out: Easier said than done, right? Well, learn from my mistakes. The one thing I truly wish I did was that I took time to look at why I was stressing, and how I could calm my nerves a bit. Once I got to the location, I realized how unnecessary my nerves were, and I was proud that I had handled traveling like a pro! My anxiety leading up to the trip was only adding to my flying stress, but I did find some ways to handle it. If you’re someone who constantly gets in their head, journaling is a terrific outlet for you to consider. Since this trip and realizing how much it had helped me, I’ve turned journaling into a habit and have been doing it every day. Brain dumping onto a piece of paper can be more helpful than you realize. Additionally, talking to someone you trust can help you separate your unnecessary worries from actual concerns you may have. Taking time to talk things out can help you get a clearer picture of all that is in store for you, and help you be more excited!
These were my biggest takeaways from my own experience, but note that you may have different ones! Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, and it’s important to keep them in mind throughout the process. And remember, reach out to someone if you need it! You don’t have to go through it all one hundred percent alone.
The airport can be a greatly intimidating place, so how do you approach it as a newbie? First, check your information. Know which gate you’re headed to, what time you’re flight is supposed to leave, also be aware of what seat you’re at, and have your airline’s app ready on your phone to receive notifications in the case of last-minute changes. Knowing this information beforehand will help you seamlessly navigate the airport and get to your flight relatively stress-free. And as always, be on alert and keep your eyes and ears open. Keep your luggage close to you, and always be aware of your surroundings.
Now that you’re on the plane, what do you do? Remind yourself of where you’ve placed your carry-on bag, and make your way to your seat. Hopefully, you brought something to stay entertained like a book, games on your phone, or downloaded TV and movies on your laptop. Even if you haven’t, taking a nap is always a good option. Even though you’re in you’re seat, stay vigilant. Note who is sitting next to you and those around you. If possible, save the restroom trips until you’re off the flight in order to not leave your belongings unattended. If you encounter turbulence, don’t stress! These piolets are trained for a reason, and you’re in good hands. Listen to any instructions that may come over on the intercom and pay attention to any incoming flight information.
If all goes to plan, you’ll be at your destination in no time! And even if things don’t go as planned, take a deep breath. You’ve got this! Once you’ve landed, listen to instructions that will advise you to collect your bag and exit the aircraft. And you’ve made it! Time for the fun to begin!
Ah! You made it! Take a second to give yourself a pat on the back. And now the adventure begins. Hopefully, you were able to look ahead a bit and see what you want to do while you’re here! As always, be smart, be safe, and be sensible. So what’re you going to do? First, make sure you get some rest. Flying alone can be a very draining experience, and it’s important that you’re rested and rejuvenated for the days ahead. If you’re not sure what to do or how you’re going to do it, let me give a little insight into my first solo adventure to New York City!
Yes, that’s right! At 16 years old, I spent a week on my own in New York City and the New England area. I took time to get to know the city as well as spend time college tour to see how I feel about New-England colleges! My Aunt & Uncle live on the Upper West Side of Manhatten, and I was able to stay at their apartment located right by Central Park. Having family nearby was very reassuring, but for the most part, I was on my own! Here’s a look into what I did each day:
Tuesday – Travel Day! I flew in pretty late and was greeted by my Uncle at the airport. My aunt had made a delicious home-cooked noodle meal so I didn’t have to worry about food so late at night. After eating and unpacking a bit, I went straight to bed.
Wednesday – I started my day by waking up bright and early to explore the nearby coffee shops (highly recommend!) I grabbed a vegan bagel for breakfast and then headed up to the Columbia University campus. While it was brisk, the sun was still shining, so I spent the whole morning touring the university campus and walking around the surrounding area. I grabbed some Indian comfort food for a late lunch and then took the subway back to the Upper West Side. Afterward, I spent the afternoon grocery shopping, since the apartment wasn’t very well-equipped with vegan food. Afterward, I headed back to prep myself for a night out. My aunt and uncle took me out to a delicious dinner at an upscale restaurant and then I headed back for some much-needed rest.
Thursday – During the morning, I had plans to head to the Natural History Museum, so woke up early to make breakfast and grab a coffee from my new favorite spot. Today was cold, windy, and rainy so I pulled on a sweater, coat, and grabber an umbrella to face the rain. I walked the full 20 mins down to the Museum and realized that they were closed to the public. So, suddenly the morning turned ‘spontaneous!’. So, I just started walking and enjoying the NY rainy day. I went into bakeries, book shops, plant shops, and anything else that I just loved the look of. It felt like a movie, truly. I headed toward time square and soaked up the city I was in. I went to lunch at Rockefeller Center and then headed to New Jersey for the afternoon. I spent my afternoon touring Princeton University! Even on a dreary day, it was an awesome experience. Back at the apartment, I order some take-out ramen for dinner and enjoyed some Netflix, and chill.
Friday – I was so pumped for my Friday! Got up, ate breakfast, and made a beeline for Central Park. I walked to a further Subway station and headed down to Greenwich Village for my NYU tour! I saved my coffee shop so I could try one around campus, and I was not disappointed! After touring, I ate a quick snack in Washington Square Park before heading down to Soho! I had saved up quite a bit of spending money over the past few months and was able to have an amazing shopping experience. Soho is just unreal, and I definitely enjoyed visiting the fabulous stores located in some of the most incredible buildings. I headed home, arms filled with shopping bags, and took some time to re-group. Then, I headed to dinner in the outer-Soho area. Closed out the day with dinner at a restaurant called Spicy Moon and was able to enjoy one of the most amazing meals I have ever had in my entire life.
Saturday – On Saturday, I woke up early to head down to Boston with my Aunt and Uncle. My Aunt is a Harvard alumnus, so we drove down in order for her to give me the tour! It was a typical Boston day, grey and rainy, but that didn’t stop us! Once arriving after our mini road trip, we first went to grab some Thai food for lunch at one of my Aunt’s favorite restaurants from her college days. We spent the afternoon walking around campus, and after getting some Boba, headed back home. Dinner was leftovers from the previous night and a little more takeout.
Sunday – Sunday was my last full day, and I was determined to make the most of it. I started my day off with coffee and walked through Central Park. Then, I headed to spend the morning around the Soho area to hit the stores I missed and spent time thrift shopping and vintage shopping. I went back for a late lunch at a vegan bakery and walked through Central Park to get back to the apartment. Then, I got ready to meet a friend of mine at the Highline, and we spent the evening catching up and enjoying one of New York’s most amazing views.
Monday – Spent the morning packing, and hopped back on a plane to head home! Even with some weather complications, everything went pretty smoothly, and I couldn’t be happier to be home!
So that’s how my trip went! Depending on your intentions for your travels, you may only be there for a few days, but learning from some of the things I did may help you along the way. Some things went to plan, and some didn’t, but I made it through! To sum it all up, enjoy the moment and don’t stress too much while you’re there! Traveling is such an awesome gift, and if you’re lucky enough to experience it, do everything you can to enjoy it.
All in All
In the end, no matter where you’re traveling, or how long you’re gone, traveling solo is such a special opportunity. While yes, it can be a nerve-wracking experience, know that there are people around you to help, support, and guide you. Just because you’re traveling ‘solo,’ it doesn’t mean you have to do everything on your own!
So here’s to new experiences and new opportunities, as you look to leave the nest.
Happy travels, Owls!