It’s easy to spot the single girl at the airport – she’s the one wheeling all her luggage into the toilet cubicle with her.
Traveling solo is no easy feat. First, there’s the tear-soaked family farewell, before taking a deep breath, hoping like mad you haven’t forgotten your hair straightener – or your passport – and walking off, alone, through the international departure gate. Then it’s just the simple task of sitting in a tiny seat for the next 20-plus, hours, watching back to back crappy rom-coms (yes, New Year’s Eve did suck just as much as I’d hoped) and praying desperately the girl sitting next to you might get up for a pee soon, so you can go too.
Needless to say, it was an economy ticket. I dream of one day being told I’ve been upgraded to business. Imagine, spending the whole trip being waited on, sipping champagne and lying down flat for a sleep! Hobnobbing with celebs and smirking at the cattle class passengers as they walk past! Friends have told me it’s happened to them. Even my beautician back in Perth had a story of a kind lady at the check-in counter granting her an upgrade. But how do you make it happen? The only thing everyone seems to be sure of is that you can’t wear jeans. No denim, instant upgrade. Bull, I reckon. I’ve made the less-than practical choice to wear dresses for all my recent trips, smiled winningly at the check-in chick, and been rewarded with diddly squat.
Which brings me to my prevailing thought of the trip – it is impossible to look good for a long-haul flight. Well, impossible for me, at least. I got on that first plane with my hair straight, some makeup on, even a funky little scarf to brighten up my outfit. Twelve hours later, with the first leg done, my skin was flaking off my face, my hair was defying gravity and the scarf was abandoned in the wake of alternatively searing and freezing temperatures – though my outfit was dressed up by a nice smear of something that the flight attendant assured me was scrambled eggs.
As everyone knows, it’s at this point, when you’re looking your absolute worst, that you run in to someone you know. Usually someone you’re desperate to impress. In this case, a popular girl from my high school, who I hadn’t seen for more than a decade. She looked great, of course. As I self consciously tried to smooth my hair and cover my dress, I grinned like an idiot and talked loudly to try and distract her from my state of appearance. Only later, in the toilets at Dubai, did I realise I’d had a massive bit of food between my teeth the whole time. Awesome.
Seven hours and another three rom-coms later, I finally started the descent into London. The descent into the unknown, really. No job, no family, no idea what’s coming next. I was hit by delirious, exhausted panic, wondering what the hell I was doing and wondering why my hair had gone from sticking up, to being plastered to my face.
But I’m here. Jet lagged, scared, and just a little bit excited. The Spice Girls sang last night. The sun is shining (though I hear it might rain later) and cute British children are playing in the park across from where I sit.
Let the adventure begin.