Disabled Travel Tips

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It seems that the amount of people who go traveling with disabilities is on the rise, as the tourism industry appears to be adapting to the requirements of disabled travelers’ special needs by providing more accessible travel opportunities.

The USA is fairly travel accessible thanks to ‘The Americans with Disabilities Act’, which guarantees (by law) that all travelers (regardless of disability) receive equal treatment.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out like this throughout the rest of the world (especially in countries where accessibility regulations can range from inadequate to non-existent).

The simple fact is that disabled travelers are often faced with inadequate travel facilities, prejudice, ignorance and higher prices.

Wheelchair sign

There’s already a lot of information and advice about disabled travel (and accessible travel) out there – most of it compiled by disabled travelers who have lived it themselves (just Google “disabled travel” and “accessible travel” to see for yourself) – but here’s a few more tips to ensure your trip goes as smoothly as possible:

Disabled Travel Tips

  • If you’re traveling in a wheelchair, be sure to book transportation to and from the airport ahead of time, as it’s likely you’ll need to book a specialized wheelchair accessible vehicle.
  • Be sure to call ahead to your destination to ensure they can accommodate your needs. Service providers in a lot of countries are legally required to accommodate special needs, although they may need some time to put the necessary plans into action (which is why it’s good to call in advance).
  • When calling ahead or booking your trip (or essentially, whenever you’re going somewhere new), be as clear and specific as possible when explaining your disability (and your subsequent needs). You may have been using accessible travel terminology and specific medical terms for years, but the person you’re explaining these things to might never have heard of them before. By supplying them with as much clear and precise information as possible they’ll be able to accommodate you and meet your needs as best they can.
  • Give yourself plenty of time when going to the airport. As a general rule, aim to arrive at the airport at least three hours before take-off on an international flight, or at least two hours before take-off on a domestic flight. Give yourself even more time if you’re flying at peak travel times when the airport is even busier.
  • Before traveling, visit your doctor and describe the kind of trip you’ll be taking, where you’re planning on going and what you’ll be doing. Your doctor may warn you of traveling to certain areas (because they lack adequate medical facilities or because certain prescription drugs are difficult to come by) and will often be able to give you advice and tips on how to travel with your disability.
  • From your doctor, request a doctor’s note (with a contact phone number on it) outlining your medical condition, the special needs requirements you may have, your medication(s) and any other pertinent information. Take this doctor’s note traveling with you, as if there’s an emergency while you’re traveling it’s important for the medical staff treating you to know as much about you as they can. It’s also important that they can get in contact with your doctor, should they require further information.
  • Depending on the length of your trip you may need to get an extra supply of medication from your doctor (especially if you’re traveling to areas where the medication isn’t available). Again, meet with your doctor to work these things out before leaving. You may also need an accompanying doctor’s note to be able to get your medication through airport security.
  • If you’re traveling in a wheelchair, bring a set of spare parts with you and the appropriate tools for making emergency repairs to your wheelchair should it happen to break.
  • There are many specialist travel agents out there that specialize in helping people of a certain disability to travel (whether it’s developmentally impaired people, visually impaired people, hearing impaired people, etc.). As the requirements of different disabled people can be very different (depending on the disability), these niche travel agents are great because they are specially tailored towards people with certain needs (an no-one else).
  • When flying, be sure that you know what your rights are. The U.S. Department of Transportation have compiled a list of rights for disabled air which can be found by clicking here.

Related posts:

  1. Travel Safety Tips – Staying Safe While You’re Abroad
  2. Wheelchair Travel Tips – How to Board a Plane for Wheelchair Users (VIDEO)

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