Navigating The Airport By Yourself For The First Time Teaches You These 5 Things

Having travel experiences all by yourself is a true sign that you're an adult. Like filling out an application for an apartment or paying your rent on time, hopping on a plane by yourself brings you to the next level in life. Suddenly, it's up to you to pack your suitcase, collect your documents, go through security, and find your gate before take-off. It honestly feels so good to be in charge and take the leap without anyone holding your hand. When you're navigating the airport by yourself for the first time, in particular, you learn a few things — about yourself, the world, and what it takes to get to where you want to go.

In my personal opinion, traveling requires little bit of confidence. It takes trusting your gut when you're trying to follow a map and can't quite figure out where you're supposed to be, and being bold when you hit the purchase button on a plane ticket. You have to believe that you'll figure out the complex lines at the airport, and show the world that you're ready for what's next — the amazing friendships, sights, excursions, and memories that are in store. (Are you getting excited just thinking about it? Me too!)

Aside from confidence, though, you have to be humble and assume that you're going to learn a few lessons along the way. Navigating an airport by yourself for the first time is a true teaching moment, and these are the five things you'll take away.

1. Always Be Prepared With Your Travel Documents

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Growing up, when you would go on a family vacation or long weekend trip with your best friends, you likely never had to worry about your travel documents. Your mom might have taken care of getting your passport, plane tickets, and currency. You were just along for the ride and the good times.

Navigating an airport for the first time all by yourself teaches you to be prepared and get organized with this paperwork, though. You realize that having your passport handy in a pocket on your carry-on bag is essential, and make sure your boarding pass is loaded onto your phone, too.

When you're going through the lines and trying to find your gate, being prepared always makes things much quicker and easier. "What's your seat number, ma'am?" Well, I have it right here!

2. Take Everything One Step At A Time

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The first time you navigate an airport by yourself, you may feel a little overwhelmed. Especially if the airport is huge with a bunch of terminals for international flights and escalators going everywhere, it can be a lot to take in. The lesson that you learn from it all is this: Take everything one step at a time.

Whether it's putting your electronics in bins at security or trying to grab a smoothie before finding your gate, focus on each step of the process instead of the bigger picture. Learn the routine, and take any obstacle as it comes to you. It'll help you stay much more organized and stress-free that way.

3. You're More Experienced Than You Give Yourself Credit For

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In addition to learning to take the whole process one step at a time, you learn that you know more than you originally thought about traveling. You know the layout of your local airport, or what you can't bring through the security line. All in all, you're much more experienced than you give yourself credit for.

Truth is, even if you weren't consciously paying attention during those past experiences, they help you navigate your way through an airport by yourself for the first time. They remind you to drink water before getting on the plane, or not to leave your bags unattended when you want to grab a snack. Most importantly, they make situations where you need to talk to people or problem-solve so much easier.

4. Asking For Some Extra Help Is OK

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Navigating an airport by yourself for the first time is bound to leave you with some questions. What do you do with this tag for your checked bag? What's the quickest way to get to your gate? Um, help!

In those moments, you don't necessarily want to ask someone for extra help. You think to yourself, "I'm an adult and should be able to figure this out." But, you learn that respectfully approaching the workers at the airport and getting answers is totally OK and a much better way to handle things. This experience is new, and you'd rather know everything for the next time.

5. Creating A Routine For Yourself Can Be Really Helpful

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Last but not least, you learn to create a routine for yourself when you navigate an airport for the first time. You learn to check your bags and get through the long lines, and save enough time to grab a snack. You start new habits and come up with travel traditions that make every trip so much better going forward.

You find a system that works for you, and one that makes you feel more comfortable about catching a flight all by yourself. For me, I love filling up a reusable water bottle and picking up a chicken caesar wrap no matter what airport I'm in. It makes me feel like I really have this whole process figured out — that I'm an adult who can navigate an airport all by herself.