5 Tips for Traveling with Disabilities
- Plan, Plan, Plan
It is difficult to be spontaneous when you are traveling with a disability; planning ahead is essential to a smooth experience. The more research you do and information you gather, the more accessible your trip will be. For example, if you’re going to visit Italy and are interested in seeing the ruins of ancient cities, you’ll find that Pompeii is not wheelchair friendly. However, the ruins at Herculaneum are - and many argue it’s the better site anyway!
The point is that no matter where you go, you can enjoy the sights and activities you want - but you do need to know what you’re getting into and how to make the most of your destination. Good resources include:
- Accessible Travel Concierge
- Accessible Journeys
- ClubMates Travel
- Cruise Critic
- Disabled Traveler’s Guide to the World
- Emerging Horizons
- Gimp on the Go
- Travel on the Level
- Wheel the World
Loyal Lifts provides accessible transportation for those in the Western North Carolina area; we can take you to and from the airport to facilitate a smoother travel experience - as well as get you where you need to go locally.
- Plan Around Your Routine
Take into account your physical requirements and needs. For example, if you have more stamina in the morning, plan to use that time for sightseeing and more taxing activities. Afternoons can be used to rest, relax, visit a spa, take a swim, find a cozy cafe, etc. If you normally take a nap at home, do so now. Breaking your routine can lead to frustration, and trying to fit too much into your days can be counterproductive.
- Book Accessible Accommodations in Advance - and Confirm
When you book your accommodations, make sure you tell the hotel, inn, or another establishment about your needs. They need to know so they can make the proper arrangements for you. Be very specific about what you require in terms of mobility and accessibility; do not downplay your disability.
It’s best to reserve your room/suite as far in advance as you can - in some cities (particularly in Europe), there are only one or two accessible rooms in hotels or inns. Book them now! You also save money by reserving your room ahead of time. A day or two before your arrival, call the establishment and confirm that the right accommodations are in place.
- Speak to Your Doctor
Tell your doctor about your trip and what you plan to do while away. If necessary, they can help you deal with the physical aspects of traveling, such as coping with a long flight, limited medical facilities at your destination, etc.
Request a doctor’s note that explains your condition, medications, potential complications, and special needs. Include your doctor’s regular and emergency phone numbers. It is advisable to bring extra medication and store them and medical supplies in your carry-on.
It’s important to take these steps just in case. It’s better to have a backup set of medications, for example, than to be stranded without. Also, look into the availability of physicians and/or medical centers located in your destination.
- If You’re Flying, Consider Your Needs
For some folks, it is better to avoid connecting flights. While wheelchairs are the last loaded and first pulled off from luggage compartments, it can still be a hassle. However, if you have difficulty with long flights or using the restroom on a plane, a series of shorter flights may be more suitable. If you do use connecting flights, allow at least 90 minutes between to give you time to get from one gate to the next and/or clear security/customs.
Regardless of whether or not you’re taking a direct flight, be sure to get to the airport with plenty of time to spare. This allows you to check-in, clear security, and get to your gate. It’s recommended that you arrive two hours before a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight.
Before you land, check-in with your flight attendant to make sure there’s a plan in place for exit. WheelchairTravel.org has a bunch of great information on everything from boarding and exiting to using your own wheelchair/scooter and what to do in case it’s damage.
It is also important to have transportation to and from the airport. Loyal Lifts is here to help you make it to your destination in complete comfort. Contact us to see how we can help with your next travel experience.