It’s time to get prepared to travel during the busy holiday season, especially if you have a disability or a medical condition. This time of year can be stressful for anyone who travels by airline. Think long lines, delays, weather problems, traffic, etc. But, there are ways to save time and make your travel go more smoothly, even when crowds are at their highest.
The holiday season in the US begins with Thanksgiving, which falls on November 24th this year, but holiday travel begins on Friday, November 18th (one of the busiest travel days of the year, according to a forecast by the Air Transport Association of America.) The Monday and Tuesday after Thanksgiving are the other busiest days. Try not to schedule on the busiest days. Try to schedule on the least busy days, including Thanksgiving Day.
You may pay more to avoid travel on busy days, but you will save your sanity! You may miss out on time with your loved ones, but you’ll arrive calm and collected. People are rushed at the airport and may not have much patience. You may miss a connecting flight. If you need extra time to go through security or to navigate the airport, it will be more difficult on very busy travel days.
Pack lightly. I know you want to bring gifts for the family and loaves of bread to share at dinner. Ship the gifts, skip the food. Your loved ones want to see you! One suitcase or carryon is best. Don’t forget to carry on all of your medications in case your luggage gets lost.
Dress comfortably. You’ll be sitting for long periods of time and you may have to deal with delays. Covered shoes to keep your feet warm in air conditioning, a sweater or jacket to cover up just in case, and no tight fitting clothes. It’s best to layer your clothes.
Check on the latest Transportation Security Administration’s rules and prohibited items.
Learn your rights during screening and what items you are allowed to bring because of a disability or medical condition.
Check on the time of your flight by calling the airline or using an app, such as Delta’s Mobile App. You can also sign up for flight reminders by text or mobile phone. Arrive even earlier than normal to the airport to be sure you have time to go through security and to get to the gate.
Notify the airline of the assistance you’ll need to access the gate and during the flight. Confirm by phone the day before your flight and get the person’s name that you spoke to. Also inform the airline of any medical equipment including a wheelchair or scooter, oxygen, walker, crutches and if you require a service animal. Again, this will save time and make the process go more smoothly during this busy travel season.
Traveling with a disability or medical condition has its ups and downs. For experienced travelers, a crowded airport may not create the need to make any changes in their plans during the holiday season. For those that are less experienced, need a great deal of assistance, those that live with pain and discomfort, or have difficulty dealing with stressful situations, making use of the above tips will make it easier to cope during the busiest travel time of the year.
Connie Roberts is a professional blogger who makes it her mission to advocate for people with medical issues. Travel with a disability is not a struggle, but an opportunity to see the world and let others see that it’s possible and a lot of fun. Tweet with her @ConnieFoggles.