You’ve got airplane tickets and hotel reservations and suddenly an unexpected leg, ankle, or foot injury is putting a kink in your plans. You ask your doctor if it’s okay to travel. She says it’s safe to go. You look at your crutches and shake your head.

Yes, it will be more challenging to hobble from one place to the other. Taking time to plan each aspect of your trip will make it easier to reach your destination without cause for concern.

Review Your Itinerary

Before saying “yes” to traveling with crutches, look over the itinerary to see if it’s doable. Connecting flights with a short layover time may be out of the question. Extremely long flights may increase your risk for blood clots. If long lines are a vital part of your travel scenario, you may need to reconsider.

It’s important to be realistic about your ability to hop long distances and stand for prolonged periods of time. If you’re physically fit and partially weight bearing, it may be possible to manage a mega airport without assistance. But remember that while people on crutches will need to stand in TSA lines, people in wheelchairs can rest comfortably.

Anyone with doubts should simply call the airline to arrange for a wheelchair. Be aware that each airline and airport will handle its wheelchair pickup services differently. Don’t be shy. Ask questions before you go to the airport.

traveler with crutch

A little extra room on the plane may be advisable. If upgrading your airplane ticket is within your budget, spend the money to maximize your comfort level. If the plane has vacant seats, consider moving your seat next to an empty seat.

Many hotels have tub-shower combos. This arrangement will be difficult to manage while on crutches. A disabled room will usually provide a walk-in shower. Some may have a sloped floor that allows access via a wheelchair. This scenario may be tricky if you’re hopping on one foot with wet crutches.

Hotels oftentimes have long corridors. Request a room on the ground floor or near the elevator. Also, check to see if there is a wheelchair on the premises.

Airport shuttle and car rental buses may have steep stairs or challenging entry points. Call the vendor and determine in advance how they will accommodate you.

Make Advanced Preparations

City bus. Signs with handicap symbols.

Traveling usually requires more walking than usual. To avoid excessive fatigue, increase your crutch usage prior to leaving. To lighten the load, consider an alternative style crutch or knee walker.

Look over your luggage and carry-on options. It may be necessary to purchase items that will make your travel easier.

What to Watch Out for on Your Day of Travel

Silhouette of man in wheelchair and people carrying luggage and walking in airport

Slow moving people require more time to get through security and to the gate. Arrive extra early to make sure you don’t feel rushed or to find the wheelchair location.

Consider using a fanny pack so that you can locate your identification and wallet easily. Arrange to have plenty of $1 bills so that you can tip the wheelchair attendants and anyone who takes care of your luggage.

Packing light will be key. If you’re traveling alone, it may be necessary to put everything into a backpack.

Remember that stress will accentuate pain and discomfort. It’s in your best interest to remain flexible and calm.

If you’ve crutched your way through a trip, can you offer any additional tips?

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About The Author

Sandy Bornstein

Sandy Bornstein lived as an expat in India. Her award-winning memoir, May This Be the Best Year of Your Life, highlights what she learned as the only American teacher at an international Bangalore school. After living abroad, Sandy continues to explore the world and write about her travels. You can follow Sandy's adventures at