20 Things to Know Before Flying for the First Time

Growing up, airports had always been daunting to me. It seemed as though there were SO many steps whenever I'd fly with my family as a kid.

I like to be prepared⁠—especially when entering a new, potentially scary situation. So before flying solo for the first time at the age of 18, I studied what to do as though I were about to take the SATs on it the next day. I asked my mom to walk me through every step, what I would need, and potential problems I could run into. I also took a nosedive into the web⁠—and though I don't remember exactly, probably read articles a lot like this one.

And guess what? My first time flying alone was a BREEZE. I was worried for nothing! Yet, I'm still glad I took the time and did my research, for perhaps the reason it went so swimmingly was because I had been prepared.

***Before we get into the 20 things to know before flying for the first time, I do want to clarify that I'm only regarding domestic travel within the United States in this post. Because that's all I really know. I haven't flown out of country in almost 10 years, let alone solo. (☹️) So while I feel more than qualified to offer my insight and recommendations for first-time flyers traveling from one U.S. state to another, I WILL need to put on my research glasses once more one day when the time (and money) comes to venture into international travel again.***

Well, here goes!

1. Nobody cares how you look.

BELIEVE ME, this is so true. Nobody cares how you look. Yes, you may come across some impeccably-dressed flyers⁠—mostly those who are flying for business or to impress the people picking them up⁠—but a far greater number of people are in casual, comfortable clothing.

I have legitimately worn sloth slippers at the airport, and nobody batted an eyelash.

2. It takes a while to get OFF the plane.

I did NOT anticipate this the first time I flew. This is usually not a big deal unless you have an immediate connecting flight, but expect it to take up to a half hour to get off the plane. The further back you are, the longer it takes.

3. Bring a neck pillow.

The best are the ones with memory foam... *groan.* You don't even have to consider space a neck pillow takes up because you can simply wear it around your neck as you check in. Let me tell you, those airplane seats are not comfortable⁠—talking coach, not first class. I've never had the luxury of flying first class. 😅

What's the worst that can happen? You don't use it. But if you don't bring it? A KINKED NECK!

4. Bring something to pass the time while waiting.

Again, you may not use it. However, given that waiting at some point during your trip is inevitable, it helps to at least have CHOICES. I do recommend taking some time to relish in the scenery on your first flight⁠—the puffy and wispy clouds, the miniature world from miles high. But frankly, after a while of staring out the window, flying can become reallllyyyy boring. Especially flying solo. And when you're in the sky without connection (although this isn't always the case, as some have WiFi and/or let you pay for it), and you can't sleep, having at least a book to read or crossword puzzle to complete makes a difference.