Become a member for free Upgrade to Unlimited for £4.99/month for unlimited access Cancel anytime

I was in my fifties when I decided to take a belated gap year – why should school leavers and university graduates have all the fun? So I gave up my job and sold my house, then spent the next six months travelling around the world, visiting friends who had only been a name on an email and doing some of the things I had promised myself I would do 'one day' – all accompanied by a small toy penguin called Scott.

Why choose air at all?

When planning my trip, one decision I made was to travel by air as little as possible. I wanted to see the countries I was visiting, and you don't get to see much from 30,000ft even if you are lucky enough to be allocated a window seat. So I tried wherever possible to limit flights to the occasions when I was crossing oceans and use public transport - trains, coaches, buses – and on one occasion a mule - for travel over land.

Off-flight entertainment

Airports can be pretty bland and featureless places, though a few stand out in my memories for various reasons. One was landing at Bandaranaike International Airport in Sri Lanka and seeing the female airport staff looking very elegant walking round in their uniform saris. On the other end of the scale, on a stop at Stockholm's Arlanda Airport, I was amused to see airline pilots, who a few minutes earlier would have been piloting one of the most advanced forms of transport known to man, propelling themselves along the long corridors of the terminal on push-scooters! But my prize for world's best airport would have to go to Amsterdam's Schiphol, where waiting passengers can visit a free museum, a library, a meditation centre or have a foot massage.

My top tips for flying

I realise some people are nervous about flying, and regard it as an ordeal. If you are one of these, or you are taking your first flight, tell the cabin crew when you get on. They will be sympathetic and do their best to reassure you and keep an eye on you.

Over the years I have developed my own system for coping with long-haul flights, so here are some of my tips:-

So have fun and enjoy your flight!

Pen Turner spent the first fifty years of her life living in London, where she had pursued careers as varied as a librarian and a remedial massage therapist, until she made the decision to walk away from her old life, travel around the world and achieve some of the things on her ‘wish list’. Now happily settled in Shropshire, she gives talks to try and persuade other people that they should go out and fulfill their own dreams too. Anyone interested in learning more about her adventures can check out her 'Travels with a penguin' books available from Amazon.