Travelling, either for business or pleasure when you have a disability or limited mobility can be a daunting experience. Unfortunately, not everywhere is properly equipped with accessibility for those in a wheelchair.
Here are seven useful tips for travelling while using a wheelchair.
1: Ask Your Airline
If you intend to travel internationally, it is strongly suggested that you contact your airline for their detailed guidelines to travelling with a disability. Every airline has their own regulations, policy and procedure about many different things – including how to best accommodate those using wheelchairs.
The more your airline knows about your specific needs, the better they will be able to assist you with your journey. They’ll need to know things like the type of chair you use, its dimensions and weight, and what assistance you may require on the flight.
2: You May Have to Check Your Chair as Luggage
Most airlines will require you to check your chair as luggage. This is especially so for power chairs and scooters, in order to prevent any damage occurring during transit.
Remove any parts that could come loose from your chair and also disconnect any wiring – although it may be perfectly safe, ground crews have been known to remove essential parts prior to loading, due to their own concerns.
Also, most airlines prefer gel or dry cell battery units opposed to older, acid-filled models.
3: Booking Travel Insurance Can Be Difficult
Many insurance companies may consider you too high a risk to insure you, while you travel. Even with letters from your GP and medical treating staff, it may prove challenging. Ask around, shop around and do your research to find a company willing to work with you to have your travel insurance needs met!
4: Book an Aisle Seat near the Toilet
This may seem obvious, but many people don’t think to ask! It makes getting to and using the toilet much easier to navigate, especially on long haul flights.
5: Research Your Accommodation Beforehand
As mentioned earlier, not everywhere in the world is wheelchair accessible. When booking your accommodation, research first. Call (where practical and affordable) or email hotels, hostels and the like, to find out if they can accommodate your needs. There’s nothing worse than arriving at your destination, and not being able to access your chosen accommodation.
6: Book a Disability-Friendly Tour Company
When booking tours, check on their website to see which ones are disability- friendly. Viator is a good site to consider, as they let you know which tours are accessible to you.
7: But Most of All…
Have fun! Travel is an exciting time, filled with positive experiences and emotions. Make sure you enjoy yourself and soak it all up!