So you’re a quadriplegic and you’ve decided you’re ready to start traveling. There’s a lot of adventures ahead, and these 8 tips will help you test the waters, build your confidence, and make your trips successful. Before you know it, you’ll be a seasoned expert!
- Start with a staycation
Get experience at a hotel before your miles and miles away from home. Staying in a hotel nearby your house will give you a chance to test the waters while being in a familiar location. Even if it’s just one night, make sure it’s just inconvenient enough that you won’t give up, but close enough to get to should you run into a problem.
- Plan how to manage the bathroom on the plane ahead of time
It’s pretty safe to assume that the airplane bathroom is not going to be accessible, so consider your options well ahead of boarding. Whether you devise a plan for emptying a leg bag, restricting fluids, wearing a diaper, or self-catheterizing in your seat under a blanket, take some time to figure out what will work best for you.
- Be aware of extra fees if using budget airlines
Standard airlines don’t charge for using the aisle chair. However, budget airlines may charge. Also be aware of baggage allowances and figure out how much you’ll need to pay in fees (if any). Be sure to contact your airline ahead of time to inquire about any fees.
- Bring a carry-on bag
Especially when you’re travelling long flights, it’s best to have a carry-on bag with spares of everything so that you can survive at least another one or two days without your luggage. This is also crucial in the event that your luggage is lost or delayed.
- Express your needs at airport check-in
Tell the person at the counter that you want to tag your wheelchair and that you will need an aisle chair and any other accommodations. Make sure you’re communicating along the way to make sure there are no missed messages and you have the support services you need.
- Check your tires and bring spare tubes
Countries you are traveling to might have bumpy walkways or uneven terrain so make sure you head out with fresh tires. At a minimum, bring an extra set of tubes (or more depending on how long your trip is). It may be inconvenient for you to find spare parts, especially if there are language barriers.
- Choose bigger, better hotels
Generally, better known hotels will have bigger rooms and bathrooms. However, no matter what the website says, be sure to call ahead and get more details about accessibility before booking.
- Bring a caregiver or travel companion
Whether you have a caregiver assist you at home or not, beds may be different heights and bathrooms have different degrees of accessibility, so having the support of a caregiver or travel companion can be very helpful for expected and unexpected challenges that arise.
Traveling with a disability may not always be easy, but with the right preparation and information, you can make your travel dreams come true!