Traveling with a Disability: 5 Tips for a Smoother Trip

Having a disability makes it a little more difficult to get away. It’s necessary to plan more and cater to your specific needs (every disability is different) to make the trip a smoother one. 

Here are 5 tips for ways to make traveling with a disability less challenging than it would otherwise be.

Select Your Luggage Well

Traveling light is a sensible choice as a wheelchair user. Trying to pack too much will only slow you down and make navigating narrow airport hallways more difficult than necessary.
Some luggage can attach directly to a wheelchair (if you use one). Look for this type to avoid needing to wheel it along beside you.

Whatever your disability, aim to be as svelte as you can to ease your way through travel logjams. It makes life so much easier.

Verify Your Wheelchair is Undamaged Post-travel

For wheelchair users, when your wheelchair is given to the airline and stowed while you are on the plane, it’s under their care. As happens with other pieces of luggage, sometimes a wheelchair can get banged up or damaged mechanically as a result of how it’s treated during the transit process.

It’s important to visibly inspect and test your wheelchair’s functionality to ensure it’s not been returned damaged. They’re expensive to fix, and it will make you immobile while a repair is performed - unless you have a spare one. Do err on the side of caution to verify its condition, rather than trust its all good.

Ask for Wheelchair or Other Assistance at Check-in

At the check-in desk, ask for their support if you’re a wheelchair user. There may also be a way to notify the airline when booking the ticket, and if so, ensure you do so at that time too.

The Air Carrier Access Act supports wheelchair users by allowing for priority pre-boarding the plane ahead of other passengers, including those in first class. Special seating is provided to support the needs of wheelchair users, too, as part of an airline adhering to the requirements of the act.

Contacting the T.S.A. before flying (up to 3 days prior) is useful to get more information. Their passenger support page is here. Make your needs known because it provides the airline and staff with the best opportunity to offer the assistance required to make your travel easier and more pleasant.

Ask for a conveniently located Room at the Hotel

Not all rooms are well-positioned when you have a disability.
If you are ambulatory but require a cane to get around, then walking down long hotel hallways isn’t ideal.

Ask for a room nearest to the elevator (but the opposite side to the busy road) to avoid putting your body through too much strain. You’ll probably be sightseeing anyway, so don’t make yourself walk farther than necessary inside the hotel.

Also, bring some earplugs with you to block out any elevator “ping” noises when staying in a room near to it. You’ll be glad you did!

Don’t Forget About Travel Recovery Time

If you find that travel wears you out, then be sure to set your home up to give you some R&R upon your return.

When sleeping in another bed doesn’t suit you well, you’ll be sleep deprived once you get home. You’ll need a mattress that allows you to get a perfect night’s sleep to recover from the travel and jetlag as quickly as possible.

It’s good to know that bed producers now provide different levels of firmness for their mattresses. Therefore, you can pick the firmness that supports your body properly and won’t aggravate any disability.

Whatever you do, don’t let a disability prevent you from getting out and about. Travel can be an enriching and mind-expanding experience. It can also give you a new perspective on your day-to-day life too.