Category Archives: Disabilities and Travel

Tips to Make Traveling with a Disability Easier

Author: Helen Hecker
Published: Dec 24, 2008 (Revised: Jun 12, 2013)
Abstract: These disability travel tips and information for the disabled will help make trips tours holidays and vacations a lot easier.
Document Detail: If you travel with a disability, handicap, physical limitation, mobility limitation, or developmental disability, have special needs, or use an electric wheelchair or handicap scooter, it’s a good idea to learn as much as you can to make disabled travel easier.
Or if you’re a mature traveler or senior who is a slow walker or just wants a slower pace, becoming more informed about disabled travel services and disability travel resources, will lessen the anxiety that often accompanies disabled travelers.

The following travel tips, resources and information for the disabled will help make trips, tours, holidays and vacations a lot easier for you, or for a child with a disability, whether short-term or long-term.

1. Plan your trip well in advance!

Do you need to order extra supplements, medications or renew prescriptions, fix eyeglasses or change prescriptions, get a physical, have dental work done, have your wheelchair fixed or tuned up, etc.?

2. If possible, always book your travel through an agency that specializes in helping people with disabilities.

This is important because specialized travel agents and tour operators for the disabled are experienced and can save you some awful headaches.

They offer a lot of good tips and a wide range of services for the handicapped traveler. Among other things, they can arrange for a: wheelchair at the airport, wheelchair accessible hotel room, wheelchair rental, lift-equipped accessible van, full van, minivan, RV, handicap scooter, or any other handicap vehicle.

Travel agents for the disabled can help arrange accessible transportation, help plan the best accessible cruise, give cruise line and cruising tips, arrange travel insurance and take care of special needs.

Agents can check with hotels for: inner and outer door widths to accommodate your wheelchair, ADA-approved handicap bath tubs, grab bars, or for roll-in showers. Just tell them your needs.

3. Take along your travel agent’s phone number.

You’ll also want to take with you the phone numbers for the travel agencies that specialize in disabled travel at your destination, in the event you can’t reach your own agent.

These travel agents may know how to solve problems that come up regarding your hotel, car or van rentals, etc., even if you didn’t order your tickets through them.

4. When traveling to another city, check out the local health and medical associations before you go.

For example, get the phone numbers for the local MS chapter if you have MS. These organizations can be great resources.

They usually know what museums, restaurants, theaters & other local facilities are wheelchair accessible and where you can get oxygen, emergency supplies or medical assistance. They may be able to help you with any problems that arise.

5. If you plan to rent a handicap scooter, wheelchair, electric wheelchair, handicap van, full van, mini-van, RV or other vehicle in another city, don’t wait until you get there.

Make all the arrangements before you leave on your trip.

Make sure you ask any specifics like, are there tie-downs, ramps, or hoists, etc. Check on what van, RV, car or auto insurance you’ll need before you go.

6. Don’t leave anything to chance.

If you can, double-check all the arrangements your travel agent makes. Call the airlines, hotels, scooter, wheelchair, car, RV or van rental companies, medical equipment rental companies, etc., and verify the specifics, especially if you’re traveling in a wheelchair or have any other special needs like oxygen.

This is important if you haven’t used the agent before.

7. If you need oxygen or any other special medical equipment, call airlines and suppliers well in advance of your trip.

Don’t wait until the last minute. Start calling them as soon as you know you’re going to be traveling or taking a trip.

Then double-check with your travel agent and the airline at least three to four days before your flight.

8. Arrive early at the airport.

It’s better to wait around there than miss your plane. This will eliminate some of the pre-trip anxiety you might feel and make for more leisurely travel. This seems like common knowledge but many people still arrive at the gate just in the nick of time.

With all that’s going on in the world today there are many reasons why you want to allow for more time at the airport.

9. Stuff to take

In your airplane carry-on bag keep copies of the prescriptions for your medications and eyeglasses, extra eyeglasses, sunglasses, all your medications and supplements, and a list of your doctor, dentist and other health professionals with their addresses, and phone numbers.

Include your doctor’s fax number for prescriptions in case you lose your medications. Keep duplicate copies of these in your luggage and at home by the telephone. Know where your medical records are kept.

10. When you travel, and for any other time too, if you take medications, learn their names and exactly what they’re for if you don’t know.

People come into the emergency room all the time and don’t know what medications they’re taking. You might be surprised to find out that most people say ‘a little yellow pill’ or ‘a white capsule’, etc.

Emergency workers need to know what you’re taking so they don’t give you medication that would interact adversely with it, overdose you or somehow interfere with their treatment and your recovery.

11. If you’re traveling by air, tell the flight attendants when you board, of any medical problem you might encounter on your flight.

Note the location of the closest restroom before getting seated. Tell the flight attendant if you think you’ll need assistance getting to it during the flight.

You may need or want an aisle seat for easy access to the restrooms. Discuss seating with your travel agent.

12. If you need someone to travel with you, ask your travel agent for ideas or suggestions.

Call the local chapters of medical associations and ask if they can recommend a travel assistant or travel companion to help or accompany you.

There are national companies who offer traveling nurses, traveling companions or travel assistants to accompany disabled travelers or people with serious medical issues.

13. Make sure to take with you:

Any medical cards, Medicare cards, discount cards, car or auto rental discount cards, auto insurance policy numbers and agent’s phone number, passport, airline tickets, etickets, American Express Travelers Cheques, debit cards, credit cards, and drivers license. Photocopy everything.

Keep photocopies in your luggage and at home by the telephone or someplace where someone has access to it in case you need it.

14. Read everything you can about traveling with a disability.

Read disabled travel books, access guides, accessible guidebooks, disability travel articles and travel publications for the disabled traveler. Read the personal travel experiences of wheelchair users and others who have traveled with disabilities. Be informed.

These travel tips, information, resources, and services for the disabled should help you, or anyone with a disability, handicap, physical limitation, or who uses a wheelchair, have an easier, more pleasant, anxiety-free, trouble-free trip, tour, holiday or vacation.

Helen Hecker R.N. is the author of ‘Travel for the Disabled’ and the ‘Directory of Travel Agencies for the Disabled’ (www.allaboutdisabledtravel.com) and other books for travelers with disabilities. Get FREE weekly ‘Travel Tips for the Disabled’ and FREE Disability News You Can Use

Children with Disabilities and Travelling

Author: Marilyn Bohn
Published: Dec 29, 2008 (Revised: Dec 29, 2008)
Abstract: Children with a disability can be a challenge for the parent or guardian when traveling.

Document Detail: There are many types of disabilities, mental as well as physical limitations. This can be a challenge for the parent or guardian when traveling at any time and during the holiday rush it can be an even bigger challenge. I worked for The Department of Services for People with Disabilities for ten years. I was a caseworker for people who were low functioning. There are many types of disabilities, mental as well as physical limitations. This can be a challenge for the parent or guardian when traveling at any time and during the holiday rush it can be an even bigger challenge.

With preparation and organization those with disabilities can travel just as well as anyone else. Here are some ideas and tips to make your holiday traveling easier and less stressful.

Pack everything the child will need or want in a carry on bag that can be used in the airport and will clear security. It might be a favorite toy, simple electronic gadgets, and favorite foods. If they are old enough to understand explain what to expect when arriving at the airport starting at the ticket counter, proceeding through security and then the wait before boarding the plane.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has the following tips for easy and safe travel with the minimum of hassle:

Parents or guardians of children with disabilities should… Inform the Security Officer if the child has any special needs or medical devices.

Inform the Security Officer if you think the child may become upset during the screening process as a result of their disability.

Offer suggestions on how to best accomplish the screening to minimize any cofusion or outburst for the child.

Ask the Security Officer for assistance during the process by helping you put your and the child’s carry-on items on the X-ray belt.

Know that at no time during the screening process will you be separated from your child. Know that if a private screening is required, you should escort and remain with your child during the private screening process.

Tell the Security Officer what are your child’s abilities are. For example: can the child stand slightly away from equipment to be hand wanded, walk through the metal detector, or needs to be carried through the metal detector by the parent/guardian.

Know that all no time should the Security Officer remove your child from his/her mobility aid (wheelchair or scooter). You are responsible for removing your child from his/her equipment at your discretion to accomplish screening.

Know that if your child is unable to walk or stand, the Security Officer will conduct a pat-down search of your child while he/she remains in their mobility aid, as well as a visual and physical inspection of their equipment.

I have observed pat-down’s being done on several occasions on people who are in wheelchairs. The officer in each instance has been very polite and considerate of the feelings of the person in the wheel chair. This is something that could be practiced at home. Role play with the child as to what will happen with the pat down at the airport so they will know what to expect. With organization and planning you can have a happy and pleasant travel experience during this busy holiday season.

Reference: Marilyn is a creative organizer who has been organizing for over 20 years. She is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers and is working towards becoming a Certified Professional Organizer. Professionally she has been organizing homes and offices for two years. She holds a bachelors degree in Social Work. She has reared five daughters and currently lives in Utah. Go to her website http://www.marilynbohn.com where you can find free organizing tips and interesting blogs and helpful articles on organizing.

Accessible Travel Checklist When Traveling with a Disability

Source: HotelsCombined.com
Published: Aug 26, 2010 (Revised: May 29, 2011)
Abstract: Accessible travel needs vary but here is a general guide that a traveller with disability may use when planning a holiday.
Document Detail:
Accessible travel needs may vary from person to person but here is a general guide that a traveller with disability may use when planning a holiday.

Identify and list your needs

Identify and list your needs under three categories: transportation, accommodation and leisure. Under transportation, list down specific airport or on-board assistance/facilities needed as well as equipment you may carry along when travelling. For your accommodation, list down your mobility needs for entering and leaving your room, use of bathroom and entering and leaving the premises. If you are wheelchair-bound, list your needs from door width to bed height and include a roll-in shower if applicable. Your accommodation and leisure providers should be able to provide similar solutions for your needs and preferably be in close proximity to a medical facility in case of emergencies.

Finding accessibility companies that match your needs

Finding information on accessible holiday providers in foreign cities is now much easier because of the continuous information growth on the Internet. Hotels and transportation companies usually have their profiles listed in online versions of directories such as the yellow pages which provide addresses, phone numbers, maps, and driving directions. A tremendous amount of information can be gathered from a company’s website and even more so from online booking services which provide a multitude of lodging options including accessible accommodation. Another good resource for finding accessible travel solutions is by getting in touch with local organizations that support the disabled community. They may not know exactly what each company provides but they probably know which companies have disability-adapted services.

Run your list of providers by your criteria of needs

Most accessible travel providers may be accessibility-law compliant but they may not always meet the needs specific to your disability.  Find out whether your choice meets not just one or two of your needs but all of the things that would make your holiday as comfortable as possible. It is always best to do extra research on each facility by emailing your questions, requesting documents such as photos and floor plans or calling to clarify the details on advertised accessible amenities.

Book and block your room

Most reservations are almost always just a general commitment of accommodating guests within the property advertised on a specified date and rate. They do not designate rooms to your reservation prior to your arrival unless explicitly arranged. This is true for most industries whether your reservation is for dining, transport or lodging. Blocking your room is therefore just as crucial as successfully placing your reservation. You can use sites like HotelsCombined.com to find the best accessible accommodation rates and book directly from their suppliers. It would be a good idea to contact the hotels directly to confirm that the room will meet your needs. Make sure that the room is not only reserved for you for the date you specify but that a particular room meeting your needs is blocked for you. If any of your accommodation or travel provider options cannot assure a blocked reservation for you, move on to your next choice.

Check your list twice

Every other person does not have the same needs as you and certainly not every other holiday provider is looking to meet your specific needs. Make sure you call and confirm your reservation several days before your arrival because last minute alternatives may not be able to provide you with a similar combination of service and facilities. It is, therefore, important to make a habit of checking the status and details of each booking you make before leaving for your destination.

It is best to plan your trip in advance. Gather as much information as possible by communicating and working with the right people so your general expectations will be met. Whether your are mobility challenged, visually impaired or just slower than you used to be, your holiday can be just as comfortable, memorable and successful with careful planning.

Travelling with a Disability is Possible… and Amazing!

Author: Kieran Jones
Published: Mar 28, 2013 (Revised: Jun 12, 2013)
Abstract: Kieran Jones has a disability called Metatophic Dwarfism this is his tale of travel to Hong Kong and Australia.
“Australia zoo, rainforests, feeding dolphins, whales, Sydney Tower the list of things I did in this incredible country goes on.”
Document Detail: I suffer from a disability called Metatophic Dwarfism, which most obviously mean I am short but also have other problems including only be able to walk short distances, so sometimes use a wheelchair to help me get around. I have always wanted to travel, but everyone doubted I would be able to on my own, especially with my wheelchair.
When someone doubts me it makes me even more determined to prove them wrong and it has always been my dream to travel to Australia, which I successfully managed and have amazing memories from.

I am now moving onto my new big adventure and have entered a competition to travel around the world. I don’t like my disability to stop me doing anything, and this would really prove myself to people and allow me to share my experiences, as I visit every single continent on an amazing 6 months experience. It would really be an opportunity of a life time and a dream to win. I think being disabled and winning the competition would be an even greater achievement. For my entry I have done a video tour of London, my current home, and also a blog sharing my experience of travelling Australia. You can view my entry here and any support, including voting for me which takes two seconds, would be most appreciated – http://www.mydestination.com/users/kieran/bbb#tab

I remember my worried excitement when I booked my flights to Australia; I had to carefully plan the trip to make sure I would manage. Before I knew it I was off, with my chair in tow, on my very first adventure, I remember having Mum in tears on the phone at the airport, worrying as Mums do! Firstly a quick three days in Hong-Kong, this was a real culture shock; I had never been out of Europe before or flown on my own! I did find it slightly daunting but quickly my sense of adventure took over. It didn’t help they managed to lose my wheelchair and it took several hours for them to find it. There was off course other challenges, such as the tour company not wanting to take me on trips as I was unaccompanied, despite me not needing assistance. I quickly made friends with someone who was booking on to the same trip who thought it was ridiculous, so we got around it. I crammed a lot in, from visiting the giant Buddha to eating food I didn’t have a clue what was.

Finally achieving my dreams I touched down in Sydney, after a quick search by the sniffer dogs and declaring the Pringles in my bag I was landed! In Sydney I had family, so got shown around all the best bits including the breathtaking Blue Mountains and down the coast in a caravan. I also kept them entertained with my preconceived ideas, such as about the spiders and snakes!

I then carried on with my travels, visiting Uluru. All the sand was interesting but I coped and because I was unable to walk around the rock I compromised, forking out for an amazing helicopter ride over it delivering breathtaking views. The most challenging and scary thing I did was driving the barrier reef, I had travelled around the world so sure as hell was going to dive it! I got on the boat, which was very choppy to say the least; I could have done with a seatbelt to stop me flying out my seat as the boat crashed around. I was determined not to get sea sick as I knew I wouldn’t be able to dive. I got to the pontoon and was squeezed into a little black wet suit. I don’t know what I expected but it wasn’t this, sea as far as I could see, it was choppy and freezing. Now is probably a good time to mention I can’t swim and would probably go as far as saying I am scared of water. The instructors were very supportive, not pushing me as I tried not to panic. I was diving on an underwater bike and eventually built up the courage, knowing I would regret it if I didn’t. Wow wasn’t it worth it, from stunning corals, to amazing colourful fish nearly as big as me and friendly reef sharks. I was on edge throughout the dive, but it’s one of the most memorable and although it may sound stupid most scary experiences of my life.

Australia zoo, rainforests, feeding dolphins, whales, Sydney Tower the list of things I did in this incredible country goes on. After a stopover in Singapore, I was well and truly bitten by the travel bug! Writing this has reminded me how many amazing things I did and life long memories I made.

I would advise any disabled person considering travelling go for it and you will make some amazing memories. With a little planning and maybe a few compromises you can make sure you have a great trip. I hope you have enjoyed reading just a few my memories from and will support me by voting in the competition so I can share many more experiences.

Editors Note: Kieran Jones is an actor, presenter and broadcaster with a range of experience and skills. His passion for performing is constantly growing and he will be appearing in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2 as a goblin. He has also appeared in various stage production including most recently playing Blusher in Snow White and the Seven the Seven Dwarfs at the Richmond Theatre and Grouchy in Snow White at the Swansea Grand. You can visit his personal website at http://www.kierandjones.co.uk

Planning an Accessible and Enjoyable Family Vacation

Author: Michelle Seitzer
Published: May 18, 2012 (Revised: Jun 04, 2013)
Abstract: List of resources that provide information and accessible travel bookings for persons with disability.
“Unfortunately, even with all our technological advances, there are still many places that are not disability-accessible”
Document Detail: A successful family vacation is often the result of good planning. Plus, if you’ve ever tried to book a flight or hotel room at the last minute, planning ahead also means you’ll save money – which means more to spend on souvenirs and meals.
A little spontaneity never hurts (and sometimes the best memories happen when you do things on a whim), but if you or a family member has a disability or mobility impairment, planning is definitely essential. Unfortunately, even with all our technological advances, there are still many places that are not disability-accessible, making planning very difficult for families with a disabled member(s). However, resources are available online and in your community to help you plan a mobility-friendly trip. We’ll share a few here:

Resources for Accessible Travel Planning:

Abilitytrip.com: Touted as a “centralized resource for accessible travel information,” abilitytrip.com was co-founded in 2008 by Darren and Faith Brehm, a husband and wife team who knows how hard it is to plan an accessible vacation. In 1993, the Brehms sustained serious injuries in a car accident; Darren suffered a spinal cord injury resulted in quadriplegia. Knowing well the importance of accessible vacation destinations, the Brehms have created a valuable (and free) resource for others like them who don’t want to let their disabilities hinder their travels.

Find destination-specific information about “the current state of accessibility” all over the world. Traveling to the Caribbean? The Middle East? Asia? You’ll find listings there and elsewhere regarding logistics, activities, emergency services, restaurants and accommodations. The site also provides a number of helpful travel tools, like a packing checklist (downloadable as a customizable excel spreadsheet) and a place to share your experiences with others.

Frommers.com – Visit the renowned travel experts at Frommer’s for several unique and accessible travel ideas (with links). The articles shared include such topics as accessible camping and new regulations that have made cruising easier for passengers in wheelchairs. Reference these and more at: http://www.frommers.com/trip_ideas/disabled/

Travelinwheels.com: Another excellent web resource is http://www.travelinwheels.com The site has a blog, an archive of stories and tips from other disabled travelers, booking tools, and an worldwide accessibility guide. You can also sign up to be an “ambassador” in order to regularly create/submit assessment profiles of accessible destinations, review other posted assessments, and share pictures and tips from your travels.

101Mobility.com: You may need a portable ramp or auto lift to make the trip a little easier. Check out the line of products available at 101 Mobility 101mobility.com the company also offers ramp rentals should you wish to use the ramp for your vacation only. Call 1.888.258.0652 (or peruse the site) to find a local office and get connected to a mobility professional who can advise you on the best solution for your specific situation.

Disabledworld.com: At this resource-filled site, you’ll find reviews of accessible tours, vacations and cruises tailored to individuals with disabilities, helpful travel tips, videos, and access to an extensive library of articles published around the topic of accessible travel (with links).