On World Tourism Day, How About a Checklist on Acing Solo Trips?
1. Check the budget. List locations you have not yet visited. Match with your dream list. Look for the cheapest routes. Check visa requirements. Relook destinations. Move to tier-2 destinations shortlist. Look for the cheapest routes. Check visa requirements. Find destinations that were not in your longlist or shortlist. Look for the cheapest routes. Check transit rules. Finalise destination that was not even on the list. Book the red-eye tickets.
2. Ask the boss for leaves. Negotiate and convince.
3. Tell family and friends about your trip. Listen to where else you could have actually gone. Nod after zoning out. Eye roll, internally.
4. Check which bags you want to take. Throw in everything you want to take. Stand on weighing-machine with the luggage. Step down. Remove half the things. Leave only what you should pack. Stand on weighing machine with the bag again. Step down. Remove half the items. Retain just what you can pack. Leave in the cute dress and black heels that you definitely know you will not need.
5. Set the alarm. Keep waking up multiple times with the nightmare of missing the plane. Wake up half an hour earlier than you should. Book cab to the airport.
6. Drag the bag down from top floor apartment in the dead of night. Wait to be sure that the driver is not going to help you with the luggage. Lift the bag and load it in the cab yourself.
7. Check your ETA on maps.
8. Arrive early before the counter has even opened. Roam around looking at the information display in places you could have possibly gone to. Queue up for the boarding pass. Play cute to get a free upgrade to the business class. Make both of you uncomfortable. Settle with an emergency-exit, window-seat that reclines but will have no front pocket to keep your book and vanity pouch.
9. Clear immigration as the most uninterested immigration officer repeatedly checks and wonders why you are travelling alone. Try to look like the picture in the passport as the current haircut looks nothing like the one on the passport. Realise you cannot make a baby face anymore.
10. Head to the security check. End up in the longest line despite all your speculation and calculation. Be the fastest in taking off jewellery, belt, laptop, shoes and emptying pockets. Feel proud of your swiftness.
11. Wander in the duty-free zone. Think of all the things that you need and the ones that are available here. Convince yourself that you have to save money for the next two weeks. Try to fit in your hand luggage and bag pack inside loo cubicle. Wonder why you did not come with a boyfriend, friend, family or colleague who could have looked after your bags. Get a takeaway coffee.
12. Head to the gate. Check the boarding pass. Panic since you cannot find it. Check the most obvious access pocket that you had put it in, so as not to panic. Stand at the end of the line of passengers boarding zone 4.
13. Locate your seat. Spring to a vacant aisle as soon as pilot announces 'boarding complete'. Pick up extra pillows and blankets on the way. Feel triumphant because you were smart enough to choose a date that is not peak travel time.
14. Quickly 'favourite' movies that you intend to watch on the entertainment unit. Feel the butterflies in the stomach. In your face, Monday!
15. Keep craning your neck and peeking to see if the food trolley is here yet. Try to maximise and score on that petite wine bottle every time the trolley passes. Save the ones that the steward forgot to break open for you for later.
16. Spread in your economy-turned-better-than-business class seat of four. Struggle with the armrest that keeps dropping on your feet and wakes you up. Walk to the end of the aircraft. Pick up some more wine and smoked nuts.
17. Fill the immigration form with the pen you had kept with you. Gawk from the window into the new land that you will be on, soon.
18. Forget all your troubles. Land with a bang – exactly how you should enter a new country every single time.
(Ajita is an internationally published travel writer and multimedia specialist. She has travelled more countries than her age. She documents her travelogues at www.asmalltowngirl.in. Tweet to her @_asmalltowngirl)