Hello! I've actually wanted to discuss this for quite some time and I was inspired when an exciting anti-stress parcel from Sure Maximum Protection arrived in the post for me the other day. This post is basically me, rambling about fear, comfort zones and life I guess. It's about confidence, flying alone and just going for it really. Two years ago, I'd barely left Europe, I even went to University in a city close to home. I've always loved home for various reasons and also wanted to remain close to my family. Home is good, home really is where the heart is but in the past 2 years, I've managed to travel a lot of the world - granted not all by myself but, this year so far, I've been on over 30 planes and I'd say at least 25% of the flights I do nowadays are by myself. That might not sound like a lot of planes to you but what I'm getting at here is if I can face my biggest fears (leaving my loved ones behind and flying alone to foreign countries), you can too! Today is a personal post about how little old me, the girl who at one point in life, didn't even have the confidence to walk across the corridor in front of people at school, let alone eat in front of anyone, the girl who used to Google 'how can I be confident' just decided to make a decision and go for it. This can relate to anything, not just flying. I hope you'll like this post and it may help at least one person.
I finally got the push I needed to write this post when Sure Maximum Protection kindly sent me a lovely little backpack (probably the nicest backpack I've ever seen by the way) with some gorgeous goodies inside it to help me on my up and coming journeys. These special items were specifically chosen to help me de-stress on my up and coming journeys. I'm going to talk about all the bits inside the bag whilst telling you a little bit of my story as this little rucksack inspired me for all kinds of reasons.
Grab A Bag.
You grab a bag, you pack it with all your stuff - we've all been there. Whether it was to stay over at a friends, whether it was to go on a weekend away, a work trip or something bigger. Some of us have packed bags for negative reasons too, moving out, leaving behind the past, walking away from something bad - you don't actually realise how many times you've packed your life into a tiny bag (whether positive or negative). I think the reason this rucksack inspired me to write this post is because when I decided to take a huge leap and move to Canada over a year ago (I'm back in the UK for good now by the way woohoo) it was my backpack that I clutched onto and relied on the most - I had no family with me, no friends, just me and my rucksack and honestly, I would have been lost without it. It's funny how something can become a big part of your life without you realising it - my little Tesco backpack was my safety blanket for my year in Canada and I am not ashamed to admit that.
The Hardest Part.
The hardest part when making a change in your life is not knowing if the change is going to be good or bad. The way I look at things, you're never going to know if you don't try it - this relates to so many things. In adventure terms, taking that first step, booking the fight, booking the train ticket, you name it, this can apply to so many things, applying for a new job, - it may seem little, but it's the biggest step, that first step - it kind of makes it real. I never in my life thought I'd move to another country (I can't believe I'm back now and that's just a chapter of my life that's been and gone - it's crazy how short life is) and actually, I was so scared of making that big step that I tried not to even think about it. I didn't book my plane tickets until a few days before I was due to go. Booking those tickets made it real. I couldn't sleep. People would ask me if I was packed, if I was ready, if I was excited. I snapped at them. I literally felt sick, not with excitement but with nerves but some weird, crazy part of me, just needed to get on a plane, taste freedom for a little while and start over.
What if I hated it? What if everything failed once I stepped off that plane? I told myself, actually no, worst case scenario, you go somewhere, you hate it - you fly home! That's literally all there is to it. Life is too short to be unhappy. So much of me felt like I just had to and needed to just do something for myself for a change. I really wanted to grow as a person and felt like following the norm was crushing me actually. If you ever read my University tips post you'll know that I just felt so unfulfilled in my first year of University, everyone had built uni up to be this amazing thing and in first year, I really just didn't feel it. I needed to give myself the opportunity to grow and feel more fulfilled. As much as I was actually incredibly lucky in many ways, how would I leave my incredible boyfriend and my supportive family behind when jumping on a plane for a year? - I had this itch, I just needed to see the world and just move out of my comfort zone. I almost had to leave them behind to find ME. I know that sounds stupid, the whole 'finding myself' thing, but it's true. I didn't really know who I was. I've always clung to my family, I've never even been single in my life and I've always followed the rules - I've never had a detention or even a negative comment at school (what a massive geek), but you know, something one day just hit me and I knew I needed to just leave everything behind for a little while, start fresh and step out of my comfort zone. This doesn't mean I wanted to rebel, I didn't at all, I just wanted to taste some fresh air and explore the world I guess, I needed to grow as a person and become more independent.
My childhood was a funny one and whilst I won't go into the finer details, all I will say is sometimes when bad things happen it makes you appreciate the meaning of life and the real reason you're here. I would say that any experience, no matter how bad or good, has the capability of shaping you positively if you take the opportunity. Yeh, bad things have happened but I didn't let them break me, I used them as inspiration and strength. Everyone experiences up and downs in life, it's how you deal with them that counts.
Letting go, for a short while and becoming completely independent for the first time in my life; daunting, exciting, exhilarating, sickening - basically my life was a mix of emotions. Standing in Manchester airport as a 20 year old waving goodbye to my Mum for the first time ever, my rock, my best friend and literally my everything was the hardest thing I've ever done seriously. We've been through so much together and the last thing I wanted to do was wave goodbye but this was all temporary and whilst I felt so selfish for going away, I needed to. I genuinely think, if I didn't do that, I wouldn't be who I am today. I didn't want to do it, I cried and cried (in fact I cried all the way on the flight to New York) but I had to do it. As soon as I landed in New York (teddy bear in one hand) I suddenly felt a sense of relief. I'd done it. Even if I turned around there and then, I had made it to another country by myself.
The First Night.
The first night anywhere new can be daunting, I arrived in the pitch black, alone, exhausted, knackered and confused. I had made it though, to Canada. Looking back, so what? Since then, I've done bigger journeys by myself but back then, it was such a big thing for me to do. I jumped in a taxi (everyone spoke French as I was in a French speaking area) I had no bed covers, no towel, no mirror. I didn't even know how to use the shower. I walked into an empty apartment, I was completely alone and just sat and sobbed on my bed. I texted my boyfriend and told him how awful it was. I pulled myself together. I opened my suitcase and found some cute quote cards hidden in there from my Mum, they gave me the strength to pull myself together and make the most of the year ahead.
So that's just a little bit of my story to put some perspective into it. I was an unconfident person, I'd never stepped foot out of Europe, I didn't dare eat in front of people, walk in front of people. I was in my own little shell. The honest truth? Going away, by myself, stepping foot on that plane did change me, it did grow me. I'm always on the move now, I seem to always be on planes by myself, here there and everywhere (I'm not complaining) it doesn't phase me anymore, I don't even think about it - not one bit. I love my family, I love my friends and I wouldn't be me without them, but I had to find myself first and take that huge step alone, scare myself, cry a little (okay, a lot) and do something I never thought I'd do - leave my support network and comfort blanket miles away and just go discover the world. Now, I have a serious case of wanderlust. The sky isn't the limit. I want to continue exploring and continue growing. I feel like I've learnt a lot along the way when it comes to flying and traveling alone so I thought I'd put together my top flight tips (and show you what was in my anti-stress kit from Sure Maximum Protection) to help you out if you're a nervous flyer or flying alone. If I can move out of my comfort zone, so can you!
Stay Entertained - If you're a nervous flier, or you just get bored, keep yourself entertained. 15 hour flights with 5 hour stop overs whilst chasing endless tubes, buses, taxis all in different languages, with 4 suitcases, a rucksack bigger than yourself and no sleep can get pretty boring, pretty lonely and pretty exhausting; books/films are your friends - it may be the only interaction you get for 24 hours! Sure Maximum Protection kindly sent me the lovely Kindle Fire which will 100% be coming on my next trip with me; endless books to read? Yes please. I also usually spend way too much money on glossy magazines when travelling, it completely calms me down and I feel like I can actually relax when on a flight when I'm armed with at least 5 of my favourite magazines. Nothing eases me like flicking through the beauty pages.
Relax - I get to the airport 2-3 hours before all flights so I can compose myself, that's enough time for a massage (most airports even do your nails etc for you now, I had such a lovely free massage at Jo Malone in WorldDutyFree last time I flew!!!) and some shopping to relax you - airports are getting better, they're not as big and scary as they used to be. I always sit down and have a nice big breakfast in a fancy place in the airport before I fly as a treat. It completely composes me. Then when on the plane I just try to sleep. I honestly spend most flights asleep, I put my headphones in and continually play something or start to watch a movie and I naturally always drift off to sleep. I go for window seats when I can because then I can rest my head on the side. Top tip for you there!
Don't Forget Essentials - A really simple one but pack your essentials neatly - I always make sure my hand luggage is ready and organised the night before. I swear by my Aspinal travel wallet (which you'll have seen featured way too much on my blog but most recently here) you can see what's generally in my hand luggage/travel bag on my video here for some inspiration for some inspiration. You'll feel so much more confident and happy if you have a nice little wallet/folder with everything you need in it trust me, organisation is key for any trip - for Canada I had copies of my passport printed off, copies of my insurance - everything, just incase.
Pack Your Beauty Products - This might just be me because I'm a beauty lover but I tend to get excited for a flight/travel if I pack lots of exciting new beauty bits (see my fave things to pack here). I cannot travel without deodorant, if I don't have deodorant wipes on me I take a roll on in my bag and then wipe my underarms with a face wipe other wise I feel disgusting, it sounds awful but on a 15 hour flight trust me, you'll appreciate it. Sure's Maximum protection is great for stressful situations like flying alone/rushing round airports and spending way too long on sweaty public transport. They always run great campaigns such as their Stamp Out Stress campaign, they want to help people prepare for moments that matter (you may remember them helping me with a date weekend here!!!). Their new Maximum Protection (I can vouch for it, it's really good - particularly in this crazy heat we're having in the UK at the moment) will help you feel poised, protected and confident so a huge thank you to Sure for creating me my little bespoke anti-stress kit (as shown at the top of this post) because not only did it spur me on to finally open up and write this post, it also has actually made me feel more confident for the journeys ahead - nothing beats a nice new backpack! I can already tell you that the amazing deodorant is helping me through this heatwave too!
Backpacks are your friends - Funnily enough, I was heading to Austria and realised I'd lost my favourite backpack (the one that was my saviour in Canada), that day I said to my mum, remind me to go buy a new backpack today and then excitedly, this one arrived! When going to Canada by myself, even though it isn't the most attractive of things, a backpack really did save me. As mentioned, I clenched onto it - I put my life into it and I even cuddled it when I needed some love. Backpacks are so easy and they have compartments which help if you're running around like a mad woman (me always). You're less likely to forget things in a backpack. From experience, it's much better than throwing a handbag around. I love the design of this beautiful one too.
So there we have it, some of my top tips for flying alone - something I have actually wanted to write down for a long long time but also, I apologise that this turned into such a huge, personal ramble! I haven't done a personal post in far too long and sometimes, it's nice to just talk and hopefully help people. I guess what I'm trying to say is, what felt like the scariest, craziest thing in the world, changed me in ways I could never imagine. It grew me, it helped me and it benefitted me more than anything. Note to self; Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game. 10 points if you know what film this is from!
I hope you liked this post, I also wrote down my top travel tips in detail which may help you if you are about to go on an adventure!
Please let me know if you've ever done something that's taken you out of your comfort zone? How do you feel about fear/dreams/comfort zones? A huge thank you to Sure for inspiring me with my anti-stress kit.
*This was sponsored by Sure but it's 100% my honest opinion as always.
Lots of love, Em x
Don't forget to follow me on bloglovin! to stay up to date with my posts!
I would also love it if you could subscribe to me on YouTube here!