Important vacation, flying tips given

283

I’m back from a week’s hiatus and am glad to see Yukon continues to be the bustling, thriving festival-capital of Oklahoma that we’ve grown to love.

To be precise, I missed both the Mayor’s (prayer) Breakfast and Iron Thistle Festival when I went back to my home state of New Jersey on a vacation to see family and friends. It seems taking a vacation becomes more difficult as we age, which may have something to do with loathsome air travel.

As people mature, we often become so accustomed to our regular daily routines that being out of our element can wreak havoc on both mind and body. Between the jetlag, stress of being back close to immediate family and adjusting to an unpredictable climate, this last break really took it out of me.

I consider myself somewhat of an air travel expert, having flown between Oklahoma and New Jersey at least 50 times in my life. Between newspaper jobs, I spent almost two years working in airport security as a counter-terrorism expert.

Here are some tips to help you make your next vacation a little easier:

– Pack light. For years, I’d stuff as many shirts and pants in my luggage as possible. And then I’d end up not wearing half of what I packed. Unnecessary! If you have access to a washer and drying where you’re staying, just pack a few changes of clothes.

– Pay for extra leg room. OK, I know we all are living on a budget. But when you’re tall with long legs and wide shoulders, nothing is worse than sitting like a sardine in the normal cabin class seat for a 3-1/2-hour flight. Being able to stretch out makes for a more pleasant trip.

– Put that large shampoo bottle and soft drink in your checked luggage. Having been a transportation security officer, I noticed the reason most people had their carry-on bags checked was not because they had a gun or explosive inside – but because they packed oversize (more than 3.4-ounce) liquids, gels and aerosols.

– Don’t stay with your parents too long without a break. Even if you’re 50 years old and haven’t lived at home since you graduated high school, you are still an immature child to your parents. Even just a few hours staying under the same roof as your parents on your otherwise-pleasant vacation can seem like an eternity.

– Remember to change your clock. This goes for anyone who leaves the current Central time zone on their vacation. This is particularly important for those of us who rely on our mobile phones as both alarm clock and watch.

– Pack some snacks and hand sanitizer in your carry-on bag. Flying to Newark, NJ, the United Airlines flight I was on had no running water or food. This is the second time this has happened in my last two trips back. We were offered stale mini-pretzel pieces that tasted much like cardboard.

– Expect at least one leg of your flight to either be delayed if not canceled altogether. With the way so many flights are overbooked, this almost is a guarantee.

– Don’t leave anything in your pocket and don’t wear bulky clothes when you pass through security. Unless you like getting a free massage courtesy of a TSA officer.

– If you have a metal replacement hip or knee, don’t try walking through the metal detector. You have been warned.

– Use a rideshare company to go to and from the airport. For decades, I would inconvenience friends and family by having them pick me up and drive me to the airport. Other times, I’d pay for an expensive taxi (always at least $50 each way). This year, I used Lyft and Uber both coming and going. I paid $18.79, $34.30, $16.79, and $26.42 for four separate rides to and from airports. Had no issues with my rides and the drivers were friendly!

– Bring books and magazines. I read two entire copies of the New Yorker magazine while waiting for my flights and while on the airplane. Trying to read a traditional newspaper is a challenge while on the plane owing to the difficulty of folding pages in such a confined space.

– Budget some time for a workout or two. While on your vacation, you will be tempted by dining out opportunities with friends and family and your favorite rich, fattening dishes prepared by your parents. It’s a good idea to squeeze in some exercise.

– Appreciate being home more. Whenever I go on vacation, I’m always more than ready to return home to comfortable, familiar surroundings. I look forward to getting back into my routine and being around great friends and acquaintances here in Yukon, Oklahoma. I know there is another special event to cover soon and high school graduation events are just around the corner!

* * * * *

Best wishes to Kathy Davis, the retired Yukon educator who has waited patiently for a life-saving liver and kidney transplant.

Kathy was a popular longtime Yukon classroom teacher who later became Yukon Public Schools’ curriculum director. She retired after 30 years of service while I was living temporarily in New Jersey.

I wrote a feature story about Kathy’s need for an organ transplant in the March 30th edition of The Yukon Progress. I have known Kathy for many years covering the school district and am impressed by the huge support system she has among the school community.

Both past and present school employees, parents and students have come to Kathy’s side in her time of need.

Kathy says there will be happy ending to this story. Our thoughts are with you!