Traveling As Or With A Wheelchair User – What You Need To Know

January 15, 2016 | 5:00 am | By Pants Up Easy

When you’re a wheelchair user, transportation is always a bit of an issue. Normally, your day-to-day car rides require transferring to and from the wheelchair, which can be an adventure of its own. But when you decide to take a vacation, transportation becomes a much bigger headache. Simply put, travel seems to be meant for the able-bodied in this world. Year after year we hear horror stories from unlucky disabled travelers. Such as last year, when a wheelchair-bound man was forced to literally crawl off of a United Airlines flight (which the airline eventually apologized for). The worst part? He said it wasn’t the first time it had happened to him.

So if you’re going to be traveling as or with a wheelchair user, here are some things you should know:

Suitable accommodations are not guaranteed

 Oh sure, the hotel says on its website that it’s “ADA compliant,” but when was the last time that was verified? Most hotels and resorts (especially the ritzy ones) have adequate accommodations, but you should never bet on it. Always call ahead to inquire about the facilities. Even if the hotel has reasonable accommodations available, they still probably need to be alerted to your special needs. Don’t rely on hotel staff to figure it out for you when you arrive.

Transportation can be a huge issue

 Most wheelchair users won’t have the kind of harrowing experience as the poor guy above, but there are plenty of chances for difficulties along the way. If you’ll be flying, ask your airline about pre-boarding procedures for disabled customers (a common practice). Additionally, you’ll want to explain any special needs you have to the flight staff, to avoid problems or confusion in-flight.

Always do some research beforehand

 Here in the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act is supposed to ensure we always have reasonable accommodations. But even with that decades-old law, there are still no guarantees of suitable accommodations here. So what makes you think it’ll be better in another country?

Wherever you’re headed, do some online research about the climate for wheelchair-bound individuals. Will you be able to get around? Will restaurants and tourist attractions be accessible to you?

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