• Unfortunately many of these security personnel speak little English in some airports. Understanding their requests, or having them understand you, can be an exercise in futility. Mary returned to California with an antique copper tankard. Remembering the excitement caused by her California Medal Plaque, she deliberately took it out of her carry-on, and pointed it out, hoping to avoid a problem. It was still treated like a potential bomb, requiring the personal examination of the English speaking supervisor. The fact that she had tucked a few plastic hairclips inside seemed to be especially suspicious. The hair clips were sent through the x-ray equipment separately, and no, they did not ring any bells.
  • Wear as little metal as possible. Buckles on shoes will cause you to tip toe past security in your stocking feet with the offending shoes preceding you on the belt through the scan. Belts on both men and women need to be removed in some airports, no matter how important they are to your dignity. Watch out for your jewelry, ladies. While only women are supposed to pat down women, Mary twice had non-English speaking male guards get a little too personal trying to paw the pendant she was wearing. Similar and worse experiences with under wire bras were experienced by other travelers.
  • Other tips. Make sure the battery on your nebulizer works. The man sitting next to Mary had dead batteries and no place to plug in the nebulizer. What to do? Why, take extra puffs on your MDI, of course. It also helps to sit next to a pulmonary rehab nurse for a crash course on pursed lip breathing and other rehab techniques! This gentleman was not prepared for the increased altitude and probably should have been on oxygen.
  • Before taking a trip, make sure you check with a pulmonologist to see if you need supplemental oxygen on a long flight where the cabin is pressurized to about 8,000 feet. Will you die without it? No, but you sure will be a lot more comfortable on the flight, and when you land, if your oxygen saturations haven't been in the low eighties for five hours! Can you use those little yellow oxygen masks that pop out of the overhead if you get a little short of breath? No, you can not. They are activated only by depressurization of the plane, when they ALL come tumbling down. There are emergency oxygen tanks on board, but that is just what they are for: an emergency. If your doctor thinks you will need it, order your own oxygen supply, preferably a week or two in advance of your flight.
  • Be sure and drink plenty of fluids to compensate for the dry air, which runs from about 4 to 10% humidity. Extra long lines and waits at the airport make it a good idea to bring along a bottle of your own water. Avoid carbonated beverages which are gas forming, and also alcohol, which can give you an unwanted Rocky Mountain high. The steam from hot tea helps a little to prevent dry mucous membranes in your respiratory system as well as acting as a mild bronchodilator.
  • I'm sure it isn't necessary to tell you to carry on all of your medications. Bring extras along in case you dump half a bottle on a bathroom floor.
  • Warning! Some airports will question your inhalers so be prepared to take them out of your carryon to explain them.
  • Since it is difficult to walk around these crowded planes be sure to do ankle rotations and leg lifts to prevent blood from stagnating and later causing a blood clot or pulmonary embolism. This has gotten a lot of publicity lately as the Second Class Cabin syndrome but it can happen up in first class also, folks, so don't forget to shake that leg!
  • Make sure to get your flu shots at least 2 weeks before the trip. That closed cabin is a good place to exchange bugs with several hundred other people.
  • Finally, don't hesitate to order a wheelchair to bring you to and from the plane. Even if you are really in good condition the airports aren't! Besides, it seemed as if wheelchairs enjoyed their own express lane and bypassed hours of hassle.
  • Does it end here? Not if you are going to a hotel. Besides booking a non-smoking room, make sure you are near an elevator. Some of those rooms seem half a mile away from the elevator. You might also ask what conventions are booked while you are there. Mary's hotel had a Great Dane Convention with 375 dogs booked into her hotel. (Yes, some people slept with their dogs in their beds.) These are handsome, well behaved dogs but have you ever gotten into an elevator with a Great Dane? Have you ever seen a neighbor walk their poodle with a pooper scooper and baggies? In the early morning hours here dozens of people and dogs were wandering around the grounds with shovels and garbage bags! But it was an interesting experience. Attention went to the dogs and everyone forgot about Anthrax. A great vacation.