When I was at university, I made a friend. She was older by two years, and was starting university late. She had been to India. She had been to Singapore. She lived for a few months in the Netherlands, and she went to South Korea for a stint teaching English but she didn’t like all the spiced cabbage so she ended up landing on the idea of higher education. You know, between spinning the globe once more.
I was fascinated. Not by the countries, per se, because my own bucket list of travel destinations varies significantly to hers, but by the fact that she went alone. Imagine that. A million miles from home. Strapped to a backpack and completely exposed to whatever the streets had to throw at her. We got to talking one night. And she told me something I didn’t expect.
“Travelling itself is easy. It’s the boredom of the airports.” This was something I confessed I’d never considered. Airports for me were an amusement park. All those shops and food and things to waste your money on before jetting off somewhere well-chosen. What’s not to love? But for her, airports were a vacuum. And I suppose for many solo travellers it’s the same story.
I asked her how she passed the time. Here’s what she said.
Taking pictures in airports can get you some funny looks. But she said she loved seeing loved one reunited, and seeing people waving goodbye, and seeing the expectation in people’s eyes when announcements were made. She said she had a collection of arty black and white photos she planned to make into a wall canvas collage, showing the range of expressions in her accumulated days and days spent people-watching in a place that’s filled with emotional moments.
Hit the classics
She also mentioned her love of using the time to take in some classic works of literature or classic movies. She said she was fed up not knowing what people were talking about when they spoke of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, or Shakespeare’s Hamlet, for example, and she even admitted knowing of Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band but having never heard it. To me, this seemed an admirable way to wait for boarding, as I have often thought how I’d missed out on films like The Godfather but never really had the time to plug those gaps in my knowledge of “the classics”.
Join the WiFi and check out destination
Her last point was that sometimes places are known for things and if you didn’t know it you’d miss it – so, do a little research. She used the Spire of Dublin as her example. There’s a 120m stainless steel “spike” in the middle of Dublin, and she had missed it, despite spending St Patrick’s Day in the city. Always best to check Google before you go!
Head to the airport lounge before your solo travel
Airport lounges can often be more cost-efficient than going it alone in the airport, plus if you’re a solo traveller then you’ll appreciate the peace and tranquillity that the majority of airport lounges offer. With unlimited food and drink on offer as well as other amenities, it makes complete sense to book yourself into an airport lounge and swap the poor choice in overpriced meal deals for hot food from all over the world!
Do you often solo travel? What are your top tips for alleviating airport boredom? We’d love for you to share them with us and our travel community in the comment section below. And as always, if you’ve found this article of any value we’d love for you to share it with friends and family on social media and beyond.