As the holiday season approaches, families often travel from one destination to another. Preparing beforehand for traveling with a senior will save many anxious hours before and during your trip and allow you to enjoy your holiday.
Airline travel preparedness will save you many moments of anxiety and exhaustion. Wendy Perrin, Conde Nast Traveler’s Consumer Travel Expert, tells us to be sure to confirm your flights at least 72 hours prior to your departure. Did you know that if you do not confirm your flight 72 hours prior to the flight and there is a change of departure time and you miss your flight, you may not be reimbursed for the missed flight?
Make copies of your itinerary and give one to someone you trust and who needs to know where you are staying; one for your suitcase and one for you to carry. Anyone with a medical condition should have a list of medications and the names and telephone numbers of your physicians in the event of a medical problem when away from home. This will also allow for a quick replacement if medications are lost.
If you are traveling with a senior who does not have proper identification such as a passport or license, an ID card can be obtained at the local Department of Motor Vehicles. To go through security, one must have a valid state or federal issued ID. If it is not possible to get to the DMV, a birth certificate and credit card may be accepted. Check with your airline to be sure that they will be accepted. Out of date passports and driver’s licenses are not accepted by the government which handles security.
If you need a wheelchair, ask the baggage handler when you check-in at curbside. One will be provided along with an attendant to help you to the gate. If a restroom is needed, the attendant will wait until you return to the wheelchair. If your loved one needs to be accompanied into the restroom, there are family restrooms available. It is especially helpful when a female is accompanying a male who needs help or vice a versa.
If it is necessary to carry oxygen onto the plane, one must obtain a “Physician Consent Form for Individual Who Needs to Use a Portable Oxygen Concentrator During a Flight”. The form must have the heading of the physician writing the consent form. The form may be obtained on most airline websites under “Travel Tools or Policies”.
Staying healthy while traveling is a challenge but there are few steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved one against airborne germs and other in-flight hazards. Bring along disinfectant wipes for the arms and tray tables.
- Combat Dehydration – The air on planes is very dry. The low humidity dehydrates your body, which can cause excessive fatigue and jet lag and irritate upper respiratory passages, making them more susceptible to infection. Drink plenty of water in-flight, at least eight ounces per hour is recommended. Contact-lens wearers should be sure to take eye drops because dehydration reduces tear volume.
- Keep Your Legs Happy – Both pressure changes and cramped seats cause feet and ankles to swell. Don’t wear new or tight shoes or cross your legs. Take hourly walks through the cabin. Take off your shoes and elevate your feet if possible.
- Avoid hunger – Bring along nutritious snacks – a sandwich, an apple, a granola bar or cheese. If you are traveling with a diabetic, be sure to have foods available on long fights. Crackers and sugary snacks served occasionally by the airline are often inappropriate for diabetics.
If you are traveling with a loved one who suffers from dementia, be sure not to leave your loved one alone – at any time. People with dementia often cannot follow directions and many a person has been lost when left on their own even for a few minutes.
Renting a car allows you the freedom to choose where and what you are going to see but it also can cause a great deal of stress. Once again, plan ahead. Be sure you have rented a car with a confirmation number prior to boarding your flight and do not forget to bring the confirmation number with you. Whether it is a domestic rental or foreign rental, be sure to double check prior to leaving for your trip. When arriving at your destination, read the fine print in the contract. Not all contracts are alike and even though it is exhausting be aware that it is a binding contract and changes can be very costly.
Do not over pack! Take only what is needed; choose a basic color such as black and add accessories to change the look such as colorful tops and a jacket or two. Be sure to check the weather in your destination city so you will have the correct clothing. Leave expensive jewelry at home if you are traveling overseas and place what you are leaving at home in a safe place like a safe-deposit box. If possible, do not pack clothing or anything else that you cannot afford to lose. Traveling light is traveling smart!
The holidays represent the busiest time for the airlines and the greatest number of travelers. Therefore, arrive early at the airport, well prepared and patient. Have a great holiday trip!
Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know by Wendy Perrin. Fodor’s Travel Publications, Inc., 1997
The Seasoned Traveler by George Bauer. Morris Book Publishing, LLC. 2006
Southwest Airlines, Policies and Tools