Manual Wheelchair Travel Tips

1. Allen Wrenches: Bringing a portable set of Allen Wrenches will come in handy if your breaks get altered during flight or elsewhere or generally need to be tightened on your trip. Your caster wheels may also need adjustment or to be cleaned during your trip.

2. Tires: Check the air in your tires before leaving and maybe even bring a small portable pump or use solid rubber wheels.

3. Extra Air Seat Cushion (Roho recommended): Can be used during a taxi or airplane ride, in the shower or if your other cushion gets damaged or whatnot. An air cushion can be deflated and packed down real small.

4. Gloves! Bring a comfortable set of gloves if not two for some travelers for you hands get tired, need some cushion or grip and generally protects your hands from elements such as small rocks and hot wheels.

5. Immune System: Boost your immune system with On Guard Essential Oil by dōTERRA, which consist of a blend of wild orange, clove bud, cinnamon, eucalyptus and rosemary. Take a few days before you leave and everyday during trip to naturally boost your immune system. I swear by this stuff! Also bring hand sanitizer to further protect yourself from common public sicknesses and when no soap is available in public restrooms.

6. Compression Socks: Good blood circulation helps the body stay healthy and compression socks are designed to improve this, especially for those with limited lower extremity mobility. Compression socks are also good for preventing leg swelling and help the body to stay warm in colder weather.

7. Packing: A backpack is an essential carry-on luggage item when flying but is also a crucial daypack throughout the trip to hold water, clothing, souvenirs, etc. Or invest in another bag that can be attached to or stored underneath a wheelchair. When flying, use such bags as your carry-on and store medical supplies and if possible a change of clothing.
Related Read: Luggage Tips for Wheelchair Travel

8. Medical Supplies: Bring extra supplies because you never know what can happen— flights get delayed, cars break down, bad weather brews, you need to use the restroom more, etc. This also means planning for possible illnesses you are prone to, like UTIs, so bring these meds too. In some counties proof of prescriptions are needed

Attitude is Everything: Not only be open to the new things that come your way whether cuisine or access features but also when situations don’t go according to plan. Roll with it and you’ll be guaranteed to have a more pleasant and eye-opening experience.

9. Flying: Check-in at the desk and remind staff if an aisle chair is needed to board the plane. At the jetway desk, get a claim ticket for your wheelchair so you can gate-check it. You can also remind the staff again that an aisle chair is needed. When boarding the plane remove any and everything that can fall off the wheelchair such as side-guards, seat cushion, etc.
Related Reads: Airports & Airplanes for Wheelchairs and Other Medical Equipment Air Travel with a Power Wheelchair — Accessible Travel Tips
Watch: Wheelchair Travel Trips on Airports and Plane Flights: check-in, security, aisle chairs and more!

10. Reservations: When making reservations for anything— a plane flight, train ride, hotel, restaurant, etc.—notify the receiving party that you are in a wheelchair. This isn’t necessary per se but this prepares staff so you have a smoother and more pleasant experience. When making one at a hotel, be sure the bathroom setup fits your needs (roll-in vs. bathtub). If you can’t get the details you are looking for then asked to speak with someone else. As of March 15, 2012 the service and hospitality industry has higher standards for disabled customers to follow. Know your rights!
Related Reads: Accessible Travel Tips: Booking a Hotel, Plane Flights and Renting a Vehicle with Hand-Controls — A Quad’s Perfect Hotel Room  — Cruising-Be Your Own Best Advocate

11. Getting Around: Have an idea about how you are going to get around once at your destination. Will you be  wheeling a lot? If so, then use Google images to scout out the area and get a feel for the terrain. Will you have your own car or renting? Or will you be using public transportation like buses, trains, and taxis? If relying on public transportation, you need to figure out what the wheelchair accessible options are because every city is different. If taxis are an option, have a phone number or two at hand prior to arrival. 

12. Food and Beverage: One of the best ways to keep your body healthy while traveling is to keep it hydrated. Limit caffeine and sugar drinks as they are dehydrating and constrict blood flow. Think of investing in a cup holder for your wheelchair as this will allow to carry water with you when clean water is not available and it frees up your hands and lap space. When traveling to a new area let your system adjust to the new foods and spices you encounter. Don’t shock your system because this leads to indigestion and irregular bowels, which can be unpleasant and inconvenient.

13. Great Outdoors: Get back to nature and get a “Golden Access” pass by applying online or pick on up at a national park gate (usually need to show some kind of proof) to get into any U.S. national park for free for life! Many states also have their own pass which discounts your entrance fee for state parks.

14. Getting Around with Maps: Cell phones don’t always work in rural areas, while at sea and in other countries. If you do get service, you may be paying large fees for roaming and may cost more than your trip. Therefore, you cannot solely rely that your map or GPS system will be able to navigate you. Bring maps you print out before you go or obtain local maps at train stations, hotels and even major tourist attractions

15. Public Restrooms: Sometimes finding an accessible public restroom can be challenging especially in other countries. However, even in the states restaurants, theaters, etc. may not have a wheelchair accessible restroom. When you need to go try looking for shopping centers, chain coffee shops, hotel lobbies, train/subway stations, airports, government buildings, banks and fast food restaurants. Not all are guaranteed, especially outside the  US, but these are your best bets.

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