See what I did there with the title? I didn’t (just) say ‘flyin’ solo‘, I said ‘Ridin’ Solo‘. Geddit? No? Okay then.
Consider this your guide on how to fly solo without losing your mind when you get seated in a middle seat between two rather large grandmother-types. Who talk. A lot.
- Avoid middle seats at all costs – I’ve done this by making small talk with the desk clerk at check-in (compliments go a long way, apparently); booking well in advance; begging the powers at be; making up an excuse about a knee surgery, and bladder problems (look, it’s not technically a lie– I
drink beer hydrate a lot on flights); talking about how the middle seat does nothing for my claustrophobia, and my therapist has suggested an aisle or window to avoid having a panic attack, and scaring off the other passengers during taxi, takeoff, landing, and everything in between. Bottom line – desperate times call for desperate measures.
- Keep cabin baggage small / minimal – You need to be able to take whatever’s with you into the restrooms at the airport. Also, (sounds obvious) but don’t forget to use the facilities after check-in and before baggage claim. And, if you’re flying in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, might be worthwhile using a money belt (not the fanny pack sorts), the more sleek, concealed ones – so no one tries pulling a fast one whilst you’re having a snooze. Bottom line – never underestimate safety on flights, thievery on flights is more common that you’d expect, and it never hurts to be smart. Also, here’s a great link to packing everything into your carry-on.
- What to do when the person seated next to you talks a lot, and you just want to get some shut-eye – This one’s a little more tricky for me, since I have trouble being straightforward with people. Here are your options- pretend like you don’t speak English; put your earphones in as soon as you sit down with a ‘hi’ and a smile; yawn and put on your eye mask; as soon as you sit down, say something along the lines of ‘I can’t wait to catch up on some sleep’. Bottom line – it’s a flight, you’re probably never going to see the person by your side after you leave the airport – cut your losses and be honest- excuse yourself mid-conversation and tell them you’re too tired to stay awake.
- What to do when the person next to you is hitting on you, and you’re not interested – If they’re doing so politely, a gentle let down is always good. If they’re being creepy, it’s a lot more complicated. Stay tuned for my post on how to avoid sleaze bags whilst travelling (mostly aimed at the ladies). Long story short – I’ve found that wearing a faux wedding band and explaining you have a significant other goes a long way in parts of the Middle East and Asia. I picked up this tip from a friend travelling solo a while ago, and it works like a charm.
- The old lady next to you wants to set you up with her grandson (or granddaughter) – Excuses I’ve found to be helpful in this situation – fake fiancé; fake husband; talking about your obsession with Michael Bublé which has turned into a stalking lawsuit; talking about any trouble you may or may not have had with the law; pretending like you don’t understand a word of English; pretending to be cross-eyed. Or the classic, being upfront and saying you’re not interested politely.
- What to do when the universe conspires against you and you’ve somehow you’ve ended up in the middle seat in a long haul flight – Oh you poor dear. Here, read this. You know what they say about life and lemons – grab that tequila, get drunk, and pass out for the remainder of the flight.
- You’re sat next to a really ‘couple-y couple’, and (as this post might make abundantly clear), you’re flying solo – It’s fine, really. Believe me, couples are better than exes. I once sat in the window seat and eavesdropped on the couple next to me breaking up before we’d taken off. It was an awkward 14 hours from Toronto to Dubai. For all three of us.
As always, if you liked this post, drop me a comment. If you didn’t like it definitely drop me a comment, and if you really loved it, like it, share it, or tell your grandmother about it.