I’ve travelled alone on flights from quite a young age. A lot of people are travelling back home to Pakistan for the Christmas holidays. Here are some things I’ve learned when travelling alone back to Pakistan.
People love to talk. Especially when they see you’re alone. They’re curious about you. They want to connect. They want to tell you how excited they are to be going back to Pakistan to attend their Dada’s cousin’s wife’s chacha’s daughter’s mother-in-law’s sister’s wedding. And what they’ll be wearing to the mayun. And how they thought she was never going to get married, but now they’re so relieved she is, and thank God larka itna acha mila hai and…etc, etc. It’s fun. It’s part of the Pakistani experience. Savour the feeling. It’s the aroma of the social interaction meal cooking back home.
You might make interesting friends. Exercise caution, but be open to fascinating interactions. You may get a new perspective on something you hadn’t considered before. Travel only broadens the mind if the mind is open to new things. Yes, it’s a scary world, and sometimes people advise us to keep to ourselves. An afraid mind is a mind that won’t grow. Broaden your horizons. Have that conversation.
Don’t overpack the bag you’ll be carrying. It’s one thing to travel in a group carrying heavy stuff taking turns to carry things, and a very different thing to carry your own stuff by yourself. Do yourself a favour – take basic essentials.
Wear comfortable shoes. This should be a ground rule for travelling in any case. Once a girl who I will not name and who was totally not me decided to wear boots from River Island on her trip. This girl (who was, I repeat, not me) felt the shoes were pinching at the toes. I can handle it, I – I mean she- told herself . By the end she wound up buying a new pair of shoes. Don’t do that to yourself. Save your money for chocolates.
Keep all documents handy. Don’t stuff them at the back of your oversized handbag. Like some of us *ahem, ahem* have in the past.
Keep your phone charged and be aware of how to utilise airport internet. Parents freak out when you don’t contact them for more than a couple of hours. It’s good to stay in touch with everyone and to call as soon as you land.
Keep your alternate SIM with you in hand-luggage. Call as soon as you land. Yes, I know, the temptation of getting out of your seat before the seatbelt sign turns off and do battle with the seething mass of Pakistanis who want to break out of the plane even before it’s landed, but wait a while. Keep sitting. Take out your phone and call whoever is waiting for you.
Make sure you don’t accidentally lean on your fellow passenger’s shoulder. Super the awks.
Don’t murder the kid who was kicking your seat the entire way. Because…well, I don’t have a very compelling reason right now, but they tell me it’s illegal. Yes, even in Pakistan.