I have an amazing story about one of my clients that I have to share with you all today.
She thought she couldn’t travel by herself. She was determined not to get on the plane on her own. This is the story of so many travellers who reach the gate and panic, and then decide to ditch their plans because of their fears.
In the end, she went on her trip. She got on that plane and she went on her vacation, and I could not be more proud of someone for overcoming her fears.
Her story inspired this episode, and I’m going to be giving some tips to help those out there who are struggling with their own travel anxiety, so that we can all grab the opportunities to get out and see the world.
Let’s get into this episode:
[02:28] Here’s some context.
There was a group of girls that I was helping to get to Jamaica for a vacation several months ago.
At the gate, one of the girls didn’t have the travel authorisation form that is needed to enter Jamaica. The other girls followed all the steps and had their forms, and they decided to go ahead with vacation plans anyway, leaving their friend behind.
I always tell my clients to ask me all the questions they could possibly have, so that they can avoid having any surprises. This girl, for some reason, just didn’t ask me anything.
At 5:50AM, she calls me in a panic and I get on the phone with SouthWest to arrange for a rescheduled flight, but she’s refusing to get on another flight. It’s understandable, she’s never flown solo before, this is to another country, and it can be a daunting thought.
I managed to get SouthWest to put her on a flight for the next day, and decided I was going to convince her to get on that plane.
Because her flight was the next day, she was also going to have to take another Covid test.
After I told her to go to the testing site and contact me once she got home, I didn’t hear from her. Her paid-for vacation was going to waste if she decided to ditch her plans, but I couldn’t get hold of her to even try to talk her into it.
At about 6PM that night, she called me and told me she was ready to do it, but didn’t understand the forms she needed to fill in. She should’ve asked me those questions – her friend did and we filled out the form together.
That night, we completed the entire checklist of things she needed to have in order to get on her flight the next morning.
Not only does she call me at 5AM the next morning, but she’s in a panic again because they’re asking her for a code and she has no idea what they’re talking about. Luckily, I knew she had it and where to find it, and I even sent it to her phone so that she could get on to the plane.
The entire flight, I was in a panic because she’s never flown on her own before, and she has to change planes along the way. I got a call eventually. She made it to Jamaica. I talked her through how to get to the hotel, where she finally had to have a drink with her friends after the rough 24 hours she just went through.
[13:23] Ask questions.
As I said, my client didn’t ask me any questions initially. If she had asked questions, I would’ve made sure that she got on that plane with the rest of her friends.
Don’t feel ashamed to ask questions. There’s no such thing as a dumb question, unless that question is “why didn’t I ask you any questions?”
Travel agents are there to answer your questions, even if you think they’re dumb questions.
[15:21] Allow yourself extra time.
There’s a reason people advise you to get to the airport 2 to 3 hours before your flight.
My client called me at the last moment because she didn’t have her form. It could’ve taken me maybe 10 minutes to fill in the form for her, but if you don’t have 10 minutes before your flight, there’s no point.
Allowing yourself extra time in case you forget a document can mean the difference between heading to Jamaica and missing your flight.
Everything that you need to know about your traveling, you will find in your travel documents.
Every document you get given for your trip, you need to read. The information on there isn’t for decoration. It’s important information that could save you a lot of time and energy if you knew it.
This goes hand-in-hand with giving yourself enough time, because if you don’t have time, you can’t read everything.
Solo travellers, you will not have a shortage of information if you look around you in airports. I know it’s sometimes embarrassing to look like you don’t know what you’re doing in an airport, so what I do is I pretend to be looking at my phone or at something else while I’m figuring out the airport signs.
[21:36] The flight information board.
If there’s any board you need to become friends with, it’s the flight information board.
I don’t care what your airline told you about your boarding gate. If it changes, that information goes on to the information board. It’s happened to all of us where we’re sitting at the wrong gate until the last minute and then we have to run across the entire airport to get to our plane.
[23:06] Ask for help.
If you don’t know what to do, ask for help.
Not everyone is a frequent flyer. You’d be surprised how accommodating people become when you’re open and honest and need help.
Everyone who is a frequent flyer once had their first flight and didn’t know something. You are not alone, and asking for help shouldn’t feel embarrassing.
[26:10] Relax. Breathe. Gather yourself.
This is an add-on to the extra time tip, because if you don’t have enough time, you are in an anxious state.
In that state, you’re constantly waiting for something to go wrong or for someone to treat you badly. You don’t want your trip to start with all that stress and anxiety.
If you allow yourself the time to breathe and gather your thoughts, you will start to notice all the things that are going right, and you won’t be expecting a terrible event around every corner.
[28:32] Book with a travel agent.
Yes, maybe I am biased because I’m a travel agent.
But, if my client hadn’t booked with me, who was she going to call for support? She needed someone who has experience in these situations, someone who was able to help her make a working plan at 5AM, and she wasn’t going to get that if she didn’t book with a travel agent.
No third-party booking engine is going to answer you call at all hours of the night when you’re in a panic.
Also let your travel agent know that it’s your first time traveling. That way they know that you need extra support and assistance throughout your trip.
This whole episode was a long way of saying that you – yes, you reading these show notes right now – you got this. Don’t you start doubting yourself. You didn’t come this far just to give up. If my client could do it, you can do it. And when you do it, be proud of yourself for pushing through. Celebrate the victories. You deserve it.
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela
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