Travel Accessibility Resources
for the Disabled and Handicapped

While traveling with a disability can be challenging, it can also provide a host of physical and mental benefits. Exploring the world allows a person to expand their horizons, gain new experiences, and change their perceptions. Preparing for plane travel can be a time-consuming endeavor, but with the help of airline representatives, travel agents, and friends or family, those with disabilities can enjoy a safe and fun trip on any airline. Ensuring that all necessary medical equipment, medications, and supplies are accounted for before leaving home will make traveling easier and healthier. When traveling with a disability, it can be best to consider your specific impairment and plan ahead with your own particular abilities in mind.

Airline Travel

People with disabilities who want to travel by airplane face special challenges. While many newer models of airplanes are being built to accommodate wheelchair users, older planes still in use tend to offer little accessibility. It can be important to keep in touch with a representative from the disability services department of your preferred airline to plan ahead and make sure that all of your needs are met before and during travel, regardless of your specific disability. Working with an airline representative or travel agent from the start of your trip can ensure that you find reasonable airfares as well. Research airlines to find out which are the most accommodating to people with disabilities. In some cases, airlines will offers faster security checks and boarding times for impaired travelers.

Extra planning and preparation may be needed for those who intend to board a plane using their wheelchairs. Wheelchair users may have to transfer to an aisle chair to squeeze between the planes' rows of seats. In addition, people with disabilities will have to create a strategy for toileting before boarding an airplane, as washrooms on planes are often too small to allow for the entrance of a wheelchair. Putting waterproof operation instructions and ownership information on a manual or power wheelchair before it is placed in a storage area during flights can reduce the potential for damage of the mobility device.

Traveling With Medications and Medical Equipment

Making sure that your medications and medical equipment are organized and ready for travel will reduce frustration and potential health problems while on your journey. Find out how much prescription medication you can carry with you while using your preferred transportation method. Ensure that you'll be able to have any necessary medication in a carry-on bag. Keeping health insurance information on your person throughout your trip can help you get timely treatment in the event of a medical emergency. Be aware that some medical and mobility equipment may be able to be kept near you on certain commercial transportation services, while others may have policies that require that the equipment be stored in a secure area. You may also consider insuring your medical or mobility equipment to protect against accidental damage. If your disability is severe or one that needs constant monitoring, look into booking a travel nurse to assist you on your trip.

Consider Your Specific Disabilities

Much of planning for a trip will revolve around your specific disability. Someone with muscular dystrophy, for example, may have to prepare a little differently for travel than someone with a sight impairment. If possible, contact organizations associated with your disability and inquire about resources for traveling. Many organizations have information on their websites about traveling on flights, as it's a very common transportation method. Communicating with members of your community can also be helpful, as people like yourself who've already traveled are some of best sources of information. Such individuals may be able to offer specific suggestions on what to pack during your travels and provide checklists. Additionally, some travel agencies may specialize in booking trips for people with disabilities and ofter special itineraries for those with particular impairments, like those who use wheelchairs.

Additional Traveling Tips

Certain cities and countries have reputations for being more accessible than others. If yours is a pleasure trip, research cities' accessibility rankings to ensure the smoothest excursion. Verify that any foreign countries that you plan on visiting do not have current travel warnings or alerts associated with them by checking the U.S. Department of State's official website. Consider buying additional items that may make your trek easier: Rolling luggage, large-print tags, carriers and nets for wheelchairs, and folding bath chairs are just some of the products that can make traveling more accessible for people with disabilities.

Asking your doctor for referrals to other physicians who are familiar with your condition at your destination can help put your mind at ease when traveling. Those with mental health issues should always have copies of prescriptions with them to ensure that a medication schedule isn't interrupted. Making sure that you have enough medical supplies is integral to experiencing a safe and healthy trip, so pack more supplies than you anticipate needing. Shopping for medical supplies, such as catheters, in bulk will give you the opportunity to purchase the extra equipment that you need at a reasonable price while buying you peace of mind.