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Care Travel: A Prepared Traveler is a Happy Traveler

With the holidays right around the corner it is important that caregivers who plan on traveling follow a few important steps to ensure a safe and happy trip for all involved. This article should help. 

Whether you travel abroad or domestically, there are some tips you should keep in mind. These suggestions have been written for the special needs traveler, but they apply to anyone going anywhere.

1. Equipment, spare parts and piece of mind: Always bring along spare parts for your equipment, whether it's extra tubes and valves for the oxygen tank or that spare pair of glasses. I'll never forget the time I was in London and blew a tire on my wheelchair. If I hadn't brought along extra tubes it would have ruined my vacation.

2. Luggage, weight and endurance: When packing your luggage, pack everything you want to bring, then carry your suitcases around the block at least once. If you feel like you can make around the block one more time, congratulations. You have packed properly. If you couldn't make it around the block a second time, without passing out, you will need to repack.

3. Cash, cards and traveler's checks: When traveling to a foreign country do not exchange your money at the hotel. You will get a better exchange rate (ER), and therefore save money, by exchanging your money at banks and exchange bureaus. Also, you will usually get a better ER from your ATM and credit card companies. Additionally, when you exchange at a bank or exchange bureau, you will get a better ER using cash as opposed to traveler's checks.

4. Winter coats, flying and weather: When traveling from sunny South Florida to the cold northern climates, carry your winter coat to the airport, and get a box from the airline to check the coat as luggage. You won't have to hassle with it onboard the plane. Before you leave the airport, unpack the box and put on your coat. Do the reverse when traveling from the colder climate to a warm climate. Wear your coat to the airport, get a box and check it as luggage. When you arrive in the sunshine, just leave the coat in the box.

5. Planes, seats and self-protection: If you require special assistance boarding the plane, let the airline know when you make your reservation, and when you check in at the gate. Usually the airlines will try to put you in an aisle seat, but opt for a window seat instead. The main reason for this is, anybody requiring special assistance boarding and debarking the plane boards the plane first and gets off last. Now there are 200 or so other passengers who will be getting on that plane after you and off before you. Being in the aisle seat makes you the target of every wayward carry-on bag passing your row. Another advantage to sitting in the window seat is that the others in your row won't have to climb over you every time they get up.

6. Tips, service and respect: When traveling abroad, remember that most, if not all, restaurants will include the tip in the bill. An additional gratuity is not necessary. Remember that wait staff is providing a service. They are usually underpaid and over worked. Treat them with respect, and generally you will get the service you feel you deserve. It is also important to remember that the quality of your food is not the responsibility of your wait staff. Make a complaint if necessary, but don't take it out on the waiters and waitresses.

7. One final tip: (bet you thought I wasn't going to say it) as always, plan ahead!

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