Being an Indian who has lived for several years in America, I am well aware of how anxiety provoking it can be for parents to visit their children in USA. Of course, the excitement of seeing the apple of their eye after such a long time does help temper that anxiety but traveling for the very first time to another country, with a different culture and language, can be scary for even veteran travellers.
10 Tips for Parents Traveling Alone
If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I write regularly to provide information that can help ease the journey to the US. This time I’m going to look at a list of 10 things that can ease the airport procedures.
1. Get the dollar exchange done before your trip:
It is the first thing that needs to be done to avoid last minute hassles of trying to change your money. Read this article to know how you can get the best exchange rate.
2. Arrive early to the airport:
Since you have got an international flight to catch, prepare such that you are able to arrive at the airport at least 3 hours prior to the scheduled departure time, since the check-in and immigration process does take time.
3. Smartly ditch the customer service line:
Want travel assistance? There is no need to stand in long queues at the customer service counter to check your flight status, gate information and even check-in for your flight. Use your smartphone for this purpose. All you need to do is save the airline’s customer service number in it, before you leave home.
4. Check-in online:
Online check-in is a great way to reduce the tedious airport procedures. Most airlines allow you to start checking in online on their website about 48 hours prior to the scheduled time of departure. Checking-in online also means that you get to choose your seats, rather than get handed whatever is left over after others have made their choice.
5. Take a screenshot of your boarding pass:
When you check-in online, you need to send a mobile boarding pass to your smartphone, which needs to be shown to the airport officials, when asked for. But what if the internet connection isn’t good at the airport or the airline’s app isn’t working? It is always advisable to take a screenshot of your boarding pass and save it in your phone to avoid any problems at the airport.
6. Better still, print the boarding pass:
How you will manage if your phone battery suddenly dies on you? This is why it is a good idea to print the boarding pass and keep the hard copy with you at the airport.
7. Carry some change in dollars:
For senior travellers, the airlines provide the convenience of wheel chairs for free. However, when your wheel chair assistant drops you off, he will certainly expect a tip. Keep some change handy for this.
8. Always keep your passport and important documents handy:
Airport theft is a common issue across the globe. Instead of keeping your passport and important documents in your pockets or digging them deep within your luggage, keep them in a separate bag, which you can easily take care of.
9. Prefer not wearing jewelry:
In India, elders, especially women, don’t feel completely dressed till they have some jewelry on, even if it is very basic. However, you might need to take these off at the security check point, which can be quite a hassle for seniors. I would recommend parents to keep these things packed in their bag and take them out only when they reach their destination.
10. Opt for expedited screening programs:
The TSA or Transportation Security Administration offers a trusted traveller program, in which travellers are allowed to stay fully dressed, keep their belts and shoes on and keep their items while going through security screening. Membership to this program is only given to travellers who are not perceived as high risk by the TSA.
If you know what to expect during your journey, half the anxiety will be taken care of, leaving more mind-space for the excitement of seeing your children again.