Welcome back to part two of the latest travel tips my senior mom and I came up with on our latest trip to visit long distance grandkids. I must stay, Southwest has been, and continues to be, my favorite airline for years. This time, though, we had to fly another major airline, which shall remain nameless to protect the innocent. They were great to work with and very gracious and helpful to my senior mom and her health issues. Also, I did love the advantage of having assigned seats with only two seats in each of our rows.
BUT, both the big and small planes we rode on had the narrowest aisles I've ever seen in my life! They were very hard to maneuver – especially for an elderly parent with a cane, not to mention a baby boomer juggling both our carry-ons. My carry-on was tiny but hers was medium and kept bumping the seats and the people in them. It definitely pays to travel as light as possible with the smallest backpacks and carry-ons you can get by with!
Not only that! Even though we had assigned seats, we were told to get on the plane in groups and there was NO straight line. Very confusing for anyone and especially a sweet senior citizen. It made me really appreciate Southwest's organized way of loading onto a plane.
- Most airports allow closer parking at cheaper rates with a disability placard when you exit.
- Monitor how much water your elderly parents drink. My mom forgot to drink extra water during the first leg of our journey and got a bit woozy on our layover. Fortunately, she realized it fairly quickly and we had her drink extra at dinner and on the plane and she was soon feeling much better.
- Monitor meals for senior parents. Flying can definitely play havoc with eating – especially for those seniors with light appetites. But for those flying all day, it's vital to make sure they eat at least three meals or healthy snacks throughout the day – even if they think they aren't hungry. In fact, I've noticed with both grandkids and seniors that they may need firm encouragement to eat or buy something for on the plane. And both have later thanked me when they realized how hungry they were getting.
- Many airports charge for wifi. Even if it is free, it can be very slow. So make sure you have all vital information with you in your smart phone or computer and, if possible, on a hard copy – in addition to anything you may have "in the cloud." On one trip, for example, I had all my travel info in my cell phone email as well as a hard copy. On the way, I needed to check the email copy as it had extra details I needed. NO GO! I couldn't get my email to open at all! Now I copy all of that info into my calendar and travel with a hard copy as well. Along the same lines, I noticed some airlines and airports allow smart phone apps and options so you can just show the phone to be scanned for checking in easily. I commented on that to the agent, saying I had considered doing that but wasn't sure how practical it was. He immediately shook his head and said, "Don't do it!" Or if you do, make sure you also have a hard copy with you. He had seen several people wait half hour or more in the security line only to have the smart phone app not work, just like I have occasionally experienced with my Michael's coupon app. Then they had to go back to the ticketing booth and start all over! Can you imagine that happening if you were late! Or if you were traveling with aging parents or young grandkids or both!
- Just as they always warn you – get to the airport EARLY!!! As important as this tip is in general, it's doubly so with elderly parents and/or grandkids! Everything ends up taking longer. You want them to be able to enjoy the whole trip and you don't need any extra stress! Giving yourself lots of time cushion is a sweet gift for both of you!
As you can tell, this particular trip was definitely fun and educational. And YES, we'd love to hear your travel tips as well. Happy flying – and see you after Thanksgiving with one more important tip before we return to our Sandwich Generation iPad Adventures.