So, you are bringing your parents to US? I can imagine how excited you are. I went through the same excitement long time back when I brought my mom to USA. She flew for more than 24 hours, and went through a lot of anxious hours. But finally when you get to see their smile.. that’s priceless! (Reminds me of the Ad lol.)
So, if you are preparing to bring your parents to USA on a visit, here are some tips and suggestions. All from my experience! So take them with a pinch of salt.
Tips for Indian parents visiting USA
Let’s start with the first one.
Book them a “Wheel chair Assistance”
Most airlines offer wheel chair assistance/special assistance for some extra money. Under this option, an Airport staff will take care of your parent right from check-in to getting seated in the Airplane (through different legs of the journey). So right after they check in, someone will call out their name and will offer a wheel chair.
They will take her to the right terminal, right plane, right seat so you don’t have to worry about anything. I suggest giving some cash in your parent’s hands to tip the person taking care of them.
Ensure they have traveler’s insurance
Lot of people make the mistake of not buying travel insurance. In parent’s case, I very much recommend it. You can buy a not so expensive travel insurance here, by comparing different plans available.
Here is a detailed post I wrote about the best travelers insurance for parents visiting USA.
Don’t send dangerous items in their hand bag
Dangerous items that are prohibited by Airport authorities should not be added in their hand luggage. One, they will have a hard time figuring out what’s happening, if they are questioned. Two, it might cause unnecessary delays and create confusion.
Store their important travel documents in a body bag and keep extra copies too.
Travel documents should always be with them. Ask your parents to strap them on securely on a cross-body bag and keep it attached with them all the time. Also, keep extra copies of the same documents in another bag, just in case they miss the originals.
Buy shorter journey Airline tickets with maximum one stop over.
This is obvious right? Why put them through misery of stop overs when they can make the journey short? It’s already a 24hours + journey, make it easy for them. Don’t go “kanjoos”!
Write down emergency contacts on a card/paper and leave it with them.
Write down your contact number, an Indian contact number and ask them to carry it all the time, in their purse or document bag.
Give them some Dollars and Rupees to keep in hand
You never know when it will become handy.
Give their medications etc in hand bag and keep Doctor’s prescriptions notes along with them.
While most common medicines are ok with customs, they will ask if you have Doctor’s prescriptions to them. Especially if you are carrying a medicine that is banned or not available in US. it’s a good idea to keep low quantities instead of in bulk. If you are carrying medicine in bulk, it will raise suspicion with the immigration officers.
Give them all the information they need to fill up immigration forms handy
Everyone forgets this. When they are about to land (and begins to get anxious) in US, they will be handed the immigration form in the plane. This time, make sure they have a writable pen and the information they need to fill up the form handy. So they don’t have to stumble with opening the document bag etc. A good trick is to get an additional immigration form when you are traveling to India/US, and fill it up with your parent’s information. Ask them to carry it with them when they are traveling. Easy peasy!
Give them warm clothes to wear
Many parents wear their traditional clothes like Saree etc while traveling. Problem is, when they are on the plane, it begins to get cold. Of course, air hostesses will give the comforter/blankets but sometimes they may not be fully clean. So, it’s a good idea to give them jackets or sweaters handy that they can use when required.
Teach them basic etiquettes
Most people would know how to behave etc but in case they don’t teach them the basic things. Like how to ask for water in the plane (by switching the light or calling for help). Tell them how to behave by saying “Thank you” etc so that they don’t annoy others. I’ve seen many cases where parent’s behavior comes out as rude not because they were but because they didn’t know how to behave.
Teach them the difference
The way people behave in India and US is different. Tell them how different it is without being preachy. It’s always good to let them know casually than to give them awkward surprises.
Memorize your job, employer, local address
Ask them to memorize your employer name, office location, your home location and some basic things like that. Immigration officers both in US and India will be asking them these questions randomly.
During travel, you will find instances where officers will ask them all kinda of questions. For example, where they are going, what they are doing to do etc. Teach them how to answer those questions without fumbling.
All the best. Bringing your parents to US on visit is definitely not easy. But provided you put in some early planning and make the right choices, everything will go just right!