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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at BU chapter.

I have lived on three different continents during my lifetime, which means a lot of flying. The airport is a lot easier to tackle when you’re six years old and your parents have to deal with all the actual work, and you can just complain if you’re hungry or bored. 

But now it’s different. I have to start flying by myself. Even worse, I have to fly by myself during Thanksgiving break, when the airport is filled to the brim with people going home to their families. If you are going through the same stress as I am, look no further because I have the perfect airport schedule for you. 

The first thing I do is get there early. It might feel nicer to have more time in bed, but trust me — it’s a lot better to sit in the airport too long than to be rushing through TSA. So depending on the airport or the flight, I definitely get there a minimum of two hours before boarding. 

It’s hard to give advice for TSA other than getting TSA PreCheck if you hate the lines and want to keep your shoes on and laptop in your bag. You don’t want to be that person holding up the line because you keep beeping or having to wait longer because your bag is getting checked. My friend brought through a CeraVe moisturizer last time, which exceeded the fluid ounce limit, and she got it taken away; don’t be that girl. Don’t lose your moisturizer. 

Once I’m through, I always go find my gate. People like to make fun of me for it because it’s not like it’s going anywhere. But! The last time I went to my gate, the sign had a different flight and city it was going to, which led me to discover my flight had been delayed. So check! 

Depending on how much time I have, either it’s a meal or a snack. I always go to a convenience store and buy a pack of gum, a big water bottle, M&M’s, chips, and then gummy bears or something sweet like that for the full variety. If you’re flying domestically, it’s likely there won’t be food on board unless you pay for it, so I recommend stocking up. I usually also grab some Starbucks while I wait. 

So now I’m either sitting at the gate or close to it because they make their announcements on the flight details, with my snacks and usually my homework, or I’m just on my phone. I also always bring a book or I’ll buy one at the bookstore (there’s always one at the airport), and I will read. I try to stay off my phone unless I’m charging it out of fear that my charger won’t work on the plane because that happened once. 

So charge your phone. Plus! With all this free time, it’s time for my biggest tip: download Netflix shows. I download movies, TV episodes, and random things I never planned on watching just because I’m going to be on a plane with nothing else to do — so why not find some new fun shows? But definitely have some good backups in case they turn out to suck.

Soon enough, you’re boarding! If you’re flying a short flight and you have a big suitcase for carry-on, you’re probably going to hear them telling you to check it in, so do that before you get into the line because I get so stressed finding space on the flight for my bags. For carry-on, I usually pack a backpack and a tote bag because it’s easier to fit everything in, and then I would check in a suitcase if I’m packing for a long trip. 

Also! Make sure to use the bathroom before the flight. You might not need it until the seatbelt sign is on, and it takes forever until they take it off, and that’s when I always realize I need to pee. Also, one time I had a window seat, and the guy next to me was asleep the whole time, and I couldn’t get past him, so I had to hold it the whole flight.

So I hope my bad experiences have turned into good lessons for your next airport adventure. Good luck!

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Originally from Brighton, England but curently living in San Francisco and attending Boston University (Class of 2026)