Last Updated on November 1, 2016
Traveling is an arduous task for anyone, even those who travel frequently for work or pleasure run into stressful situations from time to time. When it comes to traveling with a wheelchair that stress is multiplied, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have an enjoyable time.
Wheelchair travel can be made less stressful with proper planning. In this post, we’re going to go over some of the most helpful tips wheelchair-bound travelers can follow to make their next trip go as smooth as possible.
Top 4 Tips for Wheelchair Travel
There’s no such thing as too much planning when you’re traveling with a wheelchair. If you have a destination in mind for your next trip, do your homework and look up as much information as you can about the location. Research how accessible the location is in general and make note of the spots that offer full wheelchair accessibility. This way, when you’re out sightseeing or grabbing a bite to eat, you’ll know exactly where to go.
With that said, it’s also a good idea to plan accessible routes to get to the places you want to visit. Before embarking on your trip, know where you’re going, when you’re going, and how you’re going to get there. This also applies to getting to your hotel from the airport. It’s a good idea to have transportation arrangements made in advance because there’s no guarantee there will be wheelchair accessible vehicles there for you.
Planes & Airports
A pro tip for wheelchair travel is to ask for a seat behind the bulkhead when booking your flights. These seats offer extra legroom, which makes getting in and out of your seat much easier. The majority of major airlines offer pre-boarding for passengers with disabilities, so getting on the plane should not be a hassle. Having a comfortable seat once you get on the plane is the major concern. It’s a good idea to book direct flights whenever possible, it will be a much more pleasant trip since you won’t be boarding and unboarding multiple planes throughout the day.
Another little-known fact about wheelchair travel is that the airline will ask for the dimensions of your wheelchair, as well as what type of battery is in it (if it’s powered). Airlines need this information to determine whether or not your wheelchair will fit in the cargo hold. Have this information ready at the time of booking so you can provide it right away, instead of having to call back and complete the booking later. It’s also good to have this information on you while you’re at the airport because you might be asked for it again when you check in.
When planning for wheelchair travel, it’s a must that your home base (i.e., hotel, Airbnb, etc.) be completely wheelchair accessible. Once you have decided where you’re going, make your hotel booking as soon as you can because it’s not uncommon for accessible rooms to get booked fast. If you’re unsure of where to book, look on some travel websites to see if any disabled travelers have left a review for the hotel. If you still have specific concerns in mind, there’s no harm in contacting the hotel by phone and asking them what you need to know. Ideally, an accessible hotel should have a ramp at the front entrance, an elevator, and roll-in showers. If possible, opt for a hotel that’s relatively close to the places you will be visiting. This will make getting around the city a lot easier.
Have a Backup Plan
In addition to planning for what you expect to do on the trip, plan for the unexpected as well. What happens if your wheelchair malfunctions, breaks down, or just plain stops working? You don’t want to be stuck in that kind of situation without a plan, so keep those kinds of things in mind when planning your trip. To solve issues you might have with your wheelchair while traveling, it’s a good idea to bring a small repair kit with you. Also look into repair shops nearby that deal with mobility devices. We hope that’s not somewhere you’ll ever have to go on a trip, but it’s better to plan ahead than be stuck without a working wheelchair.
If there’s one takeaway to walk away with after reading this post it’s to have a well-organized plan for your next trip. Traveling with a wheelchair doesn’t have to be a challenge. If you plan for everything in advance you’ll be prepared to make the most out of your trip. If you have any other tips for traveling with a wheelchair that we didn’t cover in this post, please share by leaving a comment below.