by Michele Novotni, Ph.D.
Confinement in tight quarters ... Nothing to eat except crackers ... Subjection to random searches ... No, itís not punishment for your latest felony. Itís traveling by air this summer.
Such circumstances make it even more difficult for people with AD/HD to cope with the hassles of traveling. Hereís some help.
Arrive Earlier Than Early
Unfortunately, you can no longer arrive at the airport at the last minute and run to catch your plane. Airlines advise that we arrive 2 hours before departure. But people with AD/HD should arrive 15 minutes earlier. Yes, I did say earlier! By beating the rush of everyone else scheduled for your flight, you'll avoid long lines and can spend your two hours shopping, eating, or reading.
Remember to exclude sharp objects from your carry on luggage. Unacceptable items (like a Swiss Army Knife key ring) might delay you for hours and cause you to miss your flight. Or, they might just be tossed unceremoniously in the trash. New procedures often require you to take off your shoes, so check your socks for holes. If you bring medications, it's a good idea to carry them in labeled prescription bottles. Be sure your name matches the name on your ticket.
Curb impulsive comments about terrorism, bombs, and the like. These days, even offhanded remarks can delay your flight or even land you in custody.
Try Socially Appropriate Stealth
If your flight is canceled, rather than wait in line, call your airlineís central reservation number. Everyone on your flight ahead of you in line is trying to get on the same flights, and by calling you have access to more agents and you can usually get a seat sooner than if you stay in line. If you have a cell phone, call while in line; if not run to a pay phone. This is socially acceptable line jumping.
Bring food and water. The airlines have cut back on food service. Gone are the water bottles and soda. At best, expect tiny cups that may or may not be refilled. Meals, usually downsized to "snacks," include something like fruit, and teeny servings of processed cheese, crackers, and chocolate. If you get a "real meal" it is often, shall we say, underwhelming.
Michele Novotni, Ph.D., is a psychologist and coach in private practice in Wayne, Pennsylvania.