Carnes: Navigating beneficial travel quirks

After almost four decades of living in one of the most successful travel destinations in the country and a full 63 years of simply living, I have finally discovered the key to “Travel Bliss,” the secret to “Vacation Nirvana” that can be achieved by anyone needing to include an airplane ride on a trip in order to fly happy and carefree from point A to point B, regardless of unplanned sub-points along the way:
Bring along a wheelchair, preferably one currently occupied.

Those things are like receiving free tickets to a Broncos game (or Nuggets at the moment), a Golden Ticket in a Wonka Bar or finding a handful of VIP passes to next December’s Birds of Prey races in a brown paper bag in a Vegas brothel (You wouldn’t dare tell anyone where you found ’em for the same reason the previous owner wouldn’t dare tell anyone where he lost ’em).

They’re just unexpected surprises that can sometimes change a life or simply make a usual hassle relatively hassle-free, and all it takes is having a single member of your traveling entourage being incapacitated to the point they need wheeled assistance, propelling you and yours to the front of the line every single time, provided of course you beat all the other wheelchair pushers to the punch.

Subtle aggressiveness can be your friend.

These wonderful little devices bring out the altruism in others, prompting even the most cynical of us to instantaneously hold doors open, scoot to the side in a crowd, and in some cases, can even cause the biggest jerk in the room to melt with guilt upon realizing he or she is the sole reason a handicapped individual cannot make it through the door or up the ramp or into the elevator.

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But don’t get me wrong. 

For those of you who write me entertaining emails every time I so much as mention the word “religion” or that “Florida hotel owner and former reality TV host,” please note that I am not promoting unethical behavior just to “beat the system,” I’m promoting it as a way to take advantage of one family member’s (or a good friend will do) unfortunate circumstance to the benefit of you and yours during a vacation.

See the difference?

In my case, or I should say our case, since it involves my bride’s mom, the benefits are seemingly doubled when the one in the wheelchair is elderly, and my mother-in-law is 94.

We’ve traveled together many times over the years, but until now never with the magical assistance of a seat with wheels, opening doors and moving previously immovable objects, such as a 300-plus pound redneck with attitude, all with a simple, “Excuse me” or a polite, “SENIOR CITIZEN COMING THROUGH!”

Works every time.

I now know what it’s like to be the very first passenger on a plane, finally giving me the opportunity to sit with averted eyes as the next 200 passengers stare with pretend outrage while wondering, “Who is that snob and why did he get to board before us?”

I’m just a lucky contestant on a temporary game show of life.

While not suggesting one install a fake cast or leg brace on the youngest or oldest traveler just for the entire group to enjoy the obvious benefits, I’m not “not” suggesting it either.

Hope that clears things up.

Richard Carnes, of Avon, writes weekly. He can be reached at

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