September 16, 2015 | 11:42 am | By Pants Up Easy
Traveling can be stressful no matter your situation. But as a wheelchair user, you may run in to more obstacles than the average traveler. If you have a trip coming up, there are a few things you will need to keep in mind in order to make your travel experience as enjoyable and easy going as possible. Below you will find five travel tips for wheelchair users to keep for future reference.
The last thing you will want to deal with on the day that you begin your travels is arranging for transportation. If you are traveling alone and do not have a friend or family member that can take you to the airport or your destination, then make arrangements ahead of time. Call a car service or taxi company and let them know that you will be traveling with a wheelchair. Make sure you allow plenty of time after pick up for loading and unloading all of your things. If you will be traveling by bus, check with the bus company in plenty of time to ensure that the bus will be wheelchair accessible and that there will be no issues. The more advanced planning you can arrange ahead of time, the better.
This is especially important if you will be traveling alone. Before you set out on your travels, schedule time to have a repair service verify that your wheelchair is in good working condition. Dealing with wheelchair maintenance issues while away from home is a hassle that you absolutely will not want to mess with. The peace of mind will also allow you to enjoy a more stress-free trip, as you won’t need to worry about any unforeseen maintenance issues that may arrive with your wheelchair. You may also want to consider purchasing a travel size repair kit that you can bring along with you in the case of any easily remedied issues.
If you will be flying to your destination, advanced preparation is key. Although all airlines must technically be handicap accessible, that doesn’t mean things will be easy for you. Letting the airline know ahead of time that you are a wheelchair user will allow them to plan for any arrangements they need to make. Fill them in on the type of wheelchair that you have, any other equipment that you will have with you, and what assistance you will need. Arrange for a gate check upon arrival, which will allow your wheelchair to be loaded directly on to the plane. Remember that you are responsible for telling the crew exactly what type of assistance you will need. Don’t hesitate to ask for help if needed.
Unforeseen circumstances seem to arise no matter where your travels may take you. Traveling with a wheelchair can only add to the potential issues that may come up. Since you may run into speed bumps along the way, make sure that you leave with plenty of extra time to deal with these issues. If you are flying and will have a connecting flight, schedule at least an hour and a half between flights so that you have plenty of time to make your connection without feeling rushed and stressed. The more cushion you have when it comes to your travel time, the better your day will go.
Any part of your wheelchair that can be taken apart will need to be labeled clearly with your name and address. You should also label any luggage that you have with you, as well as your chair itself. Keeping your items together during travel can be a challenge, and there is unfortunately a chance that things may become lost or separated. If you have your items labeled appropriately, it is much more likely that they will be found and returned to you.
Traveling as a wheelchair user doesn’t have to be a major headache. As long as you adequately plan ahead, your travels should go quite smoothly. Whether you are traveling with a group or alone, your preparation should be the same. So keep the above tips in mind, and get out there and explore!