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First time traveler, short travel date, lots of questions

First time traveler, short travel date, lots of questions

Mar 26th, 2019, 06:46 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2019
Posts: 17
First time traveler, short travel date, lots of questions

I'm new to traveling, I haven't been on a plane since 1994. I have to drop everything and go back to my hometown because of a family health crisis. I want to leave Thursday, I've looked at packages on travel sites, I can't afford to fly on a Fri-Sun, so the next opening is Tuesday, but I don't feel good about waiting so long. I'm hoping the people that travel a lot can help with the planning stuff so that I can fly out in 36ish hours.

I don't know what to pack. I'll definitely be gone a week, maybe a week and a half. I haven't slept outside my home in years. When my family and friends would go on a short term trip to weekend conventions years ago, we'd joke that it wasn't a road trip until you found something you forgot. I'll be flying, so I don't know what I can pack and what I can't pack. Right now I have the nice double whammy of clinical depression, so my memory is shot. If I see something I need and walk away from it, I will forget it even exists. Making my own lists in advance is only partially successful because of "out of sight out of mind".

What are the airlines standard for luggage now? Size, number, are there fees?

I don't know when to go to the airport. I know things are different from 1994, horrendous lines, so I don't know when to go. I don't know where to get drink and snacks while waiting. I don't know what is considered "secured area" and how to leave it to go to the bathroom and get back in.

I realized last night that my daughter's ID is expired. She has autism, so it's like parenting a 15-16 year old instead of a 25 year old. How much extra time do I allow for identity verification? How do I calm her, as she's heard plenty on the news about mean TSA agents? What advice is there for getting her matched to an Uber at a major airport if she has to go home and I have to go to the airplane? What about at the other end, small terminal? Since it's 3000 miles away, should I just leave her at home, although doing so means ripping my heart out as the dying family member hasn't seen her since she was 9 months old, or is it very likely that she can board at both ends?

I have a husband that works 60+ hours a week and will be left home alone. How do I make the home easy for him to survive in?

What about the daily "this has gone wrong"? I have a car in the shop, they've had it almost two weeks, it's likely to get out of the shop tomorrow or Thursday, which is my preferred travel day. They gave me a rental, I gotta return that. I finally got permission to take off work, but we still have to get my daughter's work on board for the exact dates. How do you make all those problems go away when you have little planning time?

I need advice for traveling with a disability. I have several bottles of medications that have to come onto the airplane with me. I have medical testing and medical appointments to deal with because of the depression, and it's a brand new doctor, not an established one. I'm severely mentally ill and the depression could be a precursor to far worse to come, and stress will aggravate it. But stress of staying home when I could go out would be worse, I think. How do you keep the stress of traveling, especially when not 100% to start, from crippling you?

Any other short-term planning travel advice?

rachel120 is offline  
Mar 26th, 2019, 10:31 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 91,597
If you are willing to tell us your home city (airport) and where you are trying to go, we might be able to help find your flight options. As far as luggage standards, etc. you need to first figure out the airline you will be flying.

If your husband is unable to shop for himself, just fill the freezer with frozen meals before you leave.

You can't make all the problems go away, you just need to work through each one. I suggest making a To Do list and writing up each thing you told us about here that needs action (new ID for daughter, return rental, get car out of the shop, etc.).

Only you can decide about whether your daughter should travel with you or stay home with your husband. We can't answer how much time you need for a new ID without knowing where you live, what kind of ID you are talking about.

There are people here who can help you with the travel arrangement part of your question, but only if we have more information.
suze is offline  
Mar 26th, 2019, 10:49 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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What will the weather be? Where are you going? I can write out a packing list for you to follow but need to know what climate.
suze is offline  
Mar 26th, 2019, 11:27 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2019
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Sorry. I'm leaving from Washington DC, going to Bend, OR.
rachel120 is offline  
Mar 26th, 2019, 12:10 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 91,597
I am seeing nonstops between Dulles to Portland International nonstop for $390 (4 hrs 45 mins). Then you would either rent a car and drive to Bend (about 3 hours) or take an Alaska Air flight $204 (40 mins).

Packing List
wear on the plane: boots/shoes/sneakers, pants, top, sweater, winter coat, purse and tote bag
In suitcase:
2-3 pair pants or skirts (whatever you usually wear at home for similar activities)
5-6 tops
2 sweaters
assorted underwear, bras, socks
gloves, hat, scarf
2 pair of comfortable shoes
bedroom slippers, nightgown
Cosmetics bag: deodorant, body lotion, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste/brush/mouth wash, whatever else you usually use at home but in a small sizes

In your carry-on tote bag keep ALL your prescription medications, glasses/contacts, charge card/debit card/cash, phone, ID. Anything that would be a problem if it got lost or stolen... keep with you in a bag under the seat in front of you on the plane. Plus some snacks, a magazine or paperback to read, something to pass the time on the flight.

Does that help?
suze is offline  
Mar 26th, 2019, 01:02 PM
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 1,244

As a new poster, Rachel is running into the antispam measures and is unable to reply as rapidly as seasoned posters can. Stay tuned!
ibobi is offline  
Mar 26th, 2019, 01:45 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Rachel, I am sorry that Fodor's is limiting your posts today. I'll watch tomorrow when they allow you to post again. Once you become a regular this limit is lifted. I'm sorry we can't talk more today! Suze
suze is offline  
Mar 26th, 2019, 02:32 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 24,746
Where are you seeing that price, suze? I've checked skyscanner and itasoftware and don't see it. I do see flights on United from IAD and BWI to North Bend with a change in SFO for $605 on itasoftware. There is a really cheap flight to Portland on the Wednesday, but that seems a bit too soon for the OP.

I haven't checked whether a round trip is cheaper as I don't have a return date.

The packing list looks good, although I would probably take fewer tops and only one extra pair of shoes. Note that there are now limits on the liquids you can take on board - see: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-...g/liquids-rule

If you want more than that you'll have to check a bag but it should be enough for a couple of weeks. Note that the limit does not include medications, which you are allowed to carry - and do carry them on rather than checking them..

For a domestic flight arriving at the airport two hours ahead should be enough time. The "secured area" is after TSA screening - see: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening
There will be bathrooms, water fountains and places to eat/buy food in the secured area. Once you know which of the three DC area airports you will use you can find maps online.

Theoretically you are allowed to board without ID, but I wouldn't want to try it myself, and I would not try it with your daughter.

Sorry about your issues. The advice to write a list is good. Tackle the most important issues first.
thursdaysd is offline  
Mar 26th, 2019, 02:54 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 91,597
I hope you will not mind, I took the text from your post and attempted to turn it into a To Do list for your consideration. It may not be perfect but I think I included everything you mentioned.

1. Find plane ticket for Thursday or Friday. Continue looking. Weekend travel is not necessarily more expensive than week day travel.
2. Packing list - already covered but feel free to tweak for your own style. Don't worry about what you might forget. You can buy it in Bend. You can pack whatever you want, with the exception of things in your carry-on bag. Then you need to limit liquids (that are not medication) to 3.4 oz sizes and no more than what can fit in a 1 quart ziplock. If you check a suitcase, you can take however much you want in that.
3. After purchasing plane ticket, check the size allowable for carry-on, and the weight limit for checked luggage and if there are any fees.
4. Go to the airport at least 2-1/2 hours in advance of the flight time.
5. Yes you can buy a drink and snacks at the airport while you are waiting for the flight.
6. You won't leave the secured area after you enter it, there are bathrooms in each part of the airport.
7. This trip would be much more straight-forward if your daughter is able to stay at home. Is there someone to care for her there? You may not be able to get her on the plane with an expired ID. Only you can decide how important it is to bring her. And that may delay the trip significantly to obtain a valid ID.
8. Your husband is an adult he can take care of himself.
9. Get your car out of the shop.
10. Return the rental car.
11. Permission to take off work - done
12. If your daughter stays home, she doesn't need time off work - done
13. Pack all medications in your carry-on bag or purse.
14. Last but not least, you need to decide it you want to take this trip, or not.

Wishing you all the best, and look forward to hearing from you as soon as you can post again. Take care. Hang in there.
15. Other advice? Just use this list that is what you told us, start checking things off. Decide if you want to go. Or not.
suze is offline  
Mar 27th, 2019, 10:43 AM
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Posts: 17
Thank you everyone for your suggestions.

suze You did a great job turning raw emotion into a pretty good checklist. Thank you as well for the packing list.

thursdaysd Thank you for mentioning those sites. Being new, I paid attention to the TV advertisements and looked at packages on Kayak and Priceline. I looked at one of those sites, saw the "hacker" fare, and that started me looking at things piecemeal. I ended up spending a little more, but I also got an hours shorter layover and a better hotel that offers free breakfast (with a price difference less than buying fast food breakfast for two). I don't know if I got a better car rental price or a worse one, but I have a guarantee airport shuttle, and that peace of mind was worth it. Because the fares got higher every hour while I was waiting to hear about work, I ended up having to get a Monday flight, but return 8 days later on the next Monday, rather than a 7 day trip.

The lady at my rental office was nice (I have to renew my lease too in the midst of all this), and told me the super obvious, to call TSA and speak with an actual person about my daughter's ID. Turns out that since it just expired it's still considered valid ID by TSA. So one more worry down.

Because of the limit to posting, I'm going to try to ask all questions now.
1. How does airport long-term parking work? I'm returning to the same airport I'm leaving, even though I got one-way tickets instead of round trip.
2. What are the rules for electronics while in flight? Are there USB outlets for charging?
3. In general, are there hours of operation for airport shuttles for hotels? Or do hotels tend to run them 24 hours?
4. Is there a need to carry cash, or does everything operate on debit card in an airport? One airline reservation mentioned buying snacks/meals in flight, is that cash only? Is that bought on the plane, or as part of checking in? Are any workers tipped? If I need to carry cash, about how much for cross country travel? (1 layover each way.)
5. In general, how does the process work? Where do I go first, second and so on? What should I expect? Are there workers in the airport that I can ask questions, and where are they generally found?
rachel120 is offline  
Mar 27th, 2019, 11:09 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 91,597
1. There is likely a 24 hour rate. Maybe a weekly rate. You need to check at the garage or lot you are using. It's just like parking anywhere, you'll get a ticket, and when it's time to leave you'll pay what you owe (either to an attendant or using a machine).

2. It depends on the model of your plane but most do have power available at the seats. You will be given instructions by the flight attendants. Everyone has to turn off electronics for take-off and landing and use it in airplane mode the rest of the time.

3. You have to ask the hotel you are staying at (or check their website) to find out how and when their shuttle operates. There is no universal answer to this question.

4. I always like to have cash for incidentals, like buying a bottle of water or mints (personally I would want at least $100 in my wallet). Again it depends on your airline. Most now are ONLY plastic (you need a credit or debit card to purchase drinks or snacks). Most do not accept cash any more. You would be purchasing drinks or snacks as available, there should be a menu in the seatback folder in front of you. The attendants come up and down the aisle with a tray or using a rolled cart. No tipping.

5. To answer this I need to know if you are checking a suitcase in. In that case you go to the airport, and go to the counter for your airline. There may be machines for check-in, but you can skip this and go to the counter and ask for someone to help you. Just tell them it's your first time flying in a long time and you need a little extra assistance.

After you check yourself and your suitcase in at the counter then you need to go thru TSA security line up where they will x-ray your carry on bags. After that you walk to your gate number (which should be printed on your boarding pass, and also on the screens you will see for Arrivals/Departures all around the airport). You may be given instructions such as removing your coat and shoes, or taking a laptop out of your carry-on, if you have one.

You can ask any airport personnel who is in uniform for help. Some work for the airlines, some are working in the magazine stores, some are janitors, some are helping with wheel chairs, some are the TSA personnel.

After checking in, buying a snack and a magazine, you want to end up sitting in the boarding area at the correct gate for your flight. You will be instructed from their when and how to board the plane.

You're doing great! I'm glad you found this forum so we can assist. sincerely, suze
suze is offline  
Mar 27th, 2019, 11:09 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 24,746
Glad to hear you are getting things sorted out!

It would help to tell us which airport. Since you're leaving from DC it should be one of three, and I'm going to give you the web sites for each. They will have answers to your parking question.

Dulles: https://www.flydulles.com/iad/parking-transportation and https://www.flydulles.com/iad/parking-information

Reagan National:https://www.flyreagan.com/dca/parking-transportation


You can use electronics on board in airplane mode (use Settings to set this). Provision of USB ports or power outlets depends on the plane. You could check https://www.seatguru.com/ for your specific flights.

You need to contact your hotel to ask about the shuttle.

You will be much better off using a debit or credit card. I suspect that that is all that will work on the plane. You do not tip anyone unless you are using airport wheelchair assistance (well, unless you are eating in a sit-down cafe).

You should check-in for your flight and print your boarding pass at home, 24 hours ahead of time. At the airport you will use one of the standalone kiosks and there will be someone to help. Then you drop off any checked luggage and proceed through security. The airport websites I linked above have FAQs.
thursdaysd is offline  
Mar 27th, 2019, 12:12 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2019
Posts: 17
My grandmother is being moved. Rhetorical question, why are hotels out in the middle of nowhere a lot more expensive than comparable hotels in nearby cities? Why are hotels out in the middle of nowhere a lot more expensive than comparable hotels sitting right next to the airport in Portland? Grumble. Driving half an hour one way to see her every day is looking a lot more inviting than spending around $35 more a night. Even the private rentals were a lot more.
rachel120 is offline  
Mar 27th, 2019, 12:58 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 91,597
Because they are nicer? Because it's a better area than the airport?? PDX isn't anywhere near downtown Portland. It's WAY out on the 205 loop. I can't really answer your question without knowing what hotels you are talking about. What areas of Portland you are trying to stay in (it's a big spread out city). Where your Grandmother is moving from and moving to. Etc.

For me it would be worth $35 to be close to where I wanted to be. IF the hotels were of equal quality or better. You are going to need a rental car for the entire trip if you choose to stay out at the airport area.
suze is offline  
Mar 28th, 2019, 04:06 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,472
There are probably fewer hotels in the middle of nowhere so less competition.

As far as buying food/snacks for the flight, I recommend buying food at the airport BEFORE you board the plane. Food on the plane is not very good. You could even bring a sandwich of snacks from home and bring them on the plane.
schmerl is offline  
Mar 28th, 2019, 06:14 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Buying food in the airport is a good suggestion. Better selection. And depending on the airlines and length of flight, some may not have anything available to eat (for free or for sale) but only beverages offered.
suze is offline  
Mar 28th, 2019, 09:59 AM
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 968
Please note: (thursdaysd) Bend is in central Oregon and North Bend is on the coast!
catspajamas is offline  
Mar 28th, 2019, 10:02 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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Oops - should have checked!
thursdaysd is offline  
Mar 28th, 2019, 07:41 PM
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Posts: 17
Yeah, I was just grumbling and complaining. Bend has very reasonable hotel prices, she was moved to La Pine and the price was insane. I'll drive the half hour, the gas prices can't be so high as to make that unreasonable. It's just odd to me, La Pine has nothing going for it as a tourist draw, and back when I lived near that area the hotels were dirt cheap. I remember as a teen being shocked by the hotel prices when we traveled to Portland or up and down the coast for overnight trips.

For those recent travelers to Oregon, can you pump your own gas, or is it still station attendant only?

Thanks for the tip for eating ahead. schmerl You mentioned sandwiches from home, are there any restrictions on food or beverages taken into the secure area? I will so stuff my backpack if we can take food/drink with us.
rachel120 is offline  
Mar 28th, 2019, 08:49 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 24,746
You can't take anything through security that the TSA will consider a liquid or gel, except for the 3.4 oz containers in the one quart bag. That means you can take an empty water bottle and fill it on the other side, but you can't take it through with anything in it.

See: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-...canibring/food
thursdaysd is offline  

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