How's this for a fun Sandwich Generation Holiday Travel Jingle? "It's that time of year, lah dah dah dah di dah...When we head for our local airports, only to find that security is worse, then this "song" of mine, in 3/4 times (NOT), turns into the "holiday travel blues!"
Well, as you can tell, it's a good thing I'm writing articles about the Sandwich Generation issues rather than writing songs, since I'm obviously not so hot with the rhythm! BUT you probably get my point. In case you missed it, the latest airport terrorism news definitely can be an issue for all of us boomers and seniors who might be planning on visiting family OR having family members traveling to us for the holidays! Right now, the attention appears to be focused on travel in Europe, but that can change with little or no notice, can't it?
Here's a few travel tips of my own followed by some great help from TSA to, hopefully, make your Sandwich Generation family holiday travel a little bit easier.
- Pack light! The less you take, the easier it is to get around AND the less you lose if your luggage is lost.
- Mail gifts ahead of time. If you MUST bring them with you, don't wrap them. Security procedures often require TSA to search luggage including wrapped gifts. They open them, but they don't re-wrap them.
- If you are traveling with elderly parents, particularly those with any kind of health issues, it might be wise to get the most refundable tickets you can. Senior fares can often be quite low and some airlines, such as Southwest, offer full refunds with a senior fare.
- I am a big believer in insurance and consider it essential to look into Travel insurance, particularly for those families traveling with elderly relatives over 65, especially in the winter months – as illnesses are more prevalent then. A senior relative of mine booked his flights for the holidays, and took advantage of American Airline's travel insurance plan. For the price of a dinner for two, he knows that if he has to cancel due to health problems his ticket if fully refundable. Very nice peace of mind. Of course, there are also independent travel insurance companies. If you are looking for one that is rated A by the Better Business Bureau (always an important criteria for me) and provides coverage for a wide variety of issues including Whatever company you go with, be sure to read the whole policy to make sure they cover your areas of concern. If terrorism is one of them, be aware that not all companies cover that but some do. I primarily focus on illness due to our Sandwich Generation family health issues, and that is usually, though again, not always covered.
More Tips from TSA and SandwichINK include:
- Liquids, aerosols and gels must be in containers three ounces or less, and those Items must be put in a one quart, clear plastic zip-top bag – one bag per passenger.
- BUT the holiday season often includes special items and TSA wants to be sure that you know that these rules for liquids include food items such as jams, salsas, sauces, syrups and dips. They also will not be allowed through the checkpoint unless they are in containers three ounces or less and in the passenger's one quart zip-top bag. This applies to gift items including lotions, creams, scented oil, liquid soaps, perfumes, and even snow globes, that are in excess of three ounces — even if they are in sealed gift packs. TSA suggests and I wholeheartedly agree that you should ship these items prior to your trip or put them in your checked baggage.
- One exception to all this is that, if you will be spending time at one of the bigger airports with lots of store options, you can buy any of these items at the airport AFTER you go through the security screening. Those items WILL be allowed on the plane AT THIS MOMENT IN TIME. That is, of course, presuming you don't buy so many items you have too many to carry on the plane. Also, that policy is subject to change with little or NO notice depending on what is happening in the world around us. Since caregiver stress is something we in the Sandwich Generation really want to avoid, mailing gifts ahead of time is HIGHLY ADVISABLE. I personally have turned into a big believer in gift cards and gifts sent by Amazon using my Amazon Prime Discount Membership, I get free and fast shipping, a HUGE selection of great gifts and NO stress in the process. That's what a call a HUGE HOLIDAY HELP for the Sandwich Generation.
- By the way, another thing you have to factor in – make sure that any gift you do bring in your carry-on is NOT on TSAs Prohibited Item list. These items delay the screening process for you and other passengers and may have to be thrown away. If youre not sure which items are allowed,click here to see the list of prohibited items.
- Arrive on time with a boarding pass and your valid government photo ID – such as a driver's license, state-issued ID card, or passport – to enter the security checkpoint. Make sure you allow plenty of time to check your baggage and move through security. Sometimes when I travel, there is no line at all. Other times – it can take 15-20 minutes to get through the line!
- Dress appropriately with jackets and shoes that are easy to take off and put on. I always empty my pockets into my purse and don't wear a belt. You usually have to remove your shoes. Computers have to be removed from your carryon unless you have a special checkpoint friendly laptop bag. If you or an elderly parent have had any kind of surgery with metal such as hip replacement surgery, be prepared for extra screening. My senior mom had the hip replacement surgery and, with one exception, has always set off their alarms. For more information about the screening process, click here.
Holiday visits with family and friends can be such a blessing. With some simple preparations, the travel required to get you, along with your elderly parents and relatives, to your destination can be a lot easier and less stressful! That's definitely good news for all of us members of the baby boomers generation caring for our beloved seniors and grandkids!
P.S. Travel insurance isn't necessarily just for trips being cancelled! For more information, just click the box below: