Traveling with your Wheelchair

The world is a big, beautiful, amazing place. There’s no use denying that relying on a wheelchair makes many things hard and sometimes creates significant limitations on what you can and can’t do. However, life has a lot to offer everyone, regardless of their abilities. If you’re yearning to see and experience it from the comfort of your wheelchair, here are a few tips to make your travels more successful:

Be Specific When Making Reservations

Your goal is to make sure, as best you can, that your mobility device can be safely and comfortably accommodated on every facet of your trip. Be very specific about your needs and your wheelchair specifications when reserving flights, cruises, tours, hotel rooms, and cars. Never assume that arrangements can be made. For example:

  • Airlines hold reservations for wheelchair users, but they generally only have a few slots. Confirm that there is a spot available for you.
  • Ask about how the airline will handle your need to move about the cabin, say to go to the restroom, during the flight so you can be prepared. 
  • Check cargo restrictions for weight and dimensions to ensure your chair will fit through doors and can be carried. 
  • Verify that wheelchair ramps for vans will be provided so you can enter and exit transportation in your chair. If they aren’t provided, plan to rent a ramp at your destination. 

These are just a few examples of the questions to ask when booking a trip. 

Ask for Help

Always ask for help; you’ll find an abundance of folks willing and anxious to assist. Be especially mindful of airport layovers, as it can be challenging to get your chair up and running and make it to your next flight on time.

Give Yourself Plenty of Time

Save yourself from the stress of rushing and give yourself plenty of time. Get to the airport early. Book long layovers. Plan to travel at a leisurely pace. Traveling is stressful for everyone; add a wheelchair into the mix, and you’ve got a recipe for chaos. Something will go wrong – you can count on it, so build in generous time to deal with what comes so you don’t miss anything and can still enjoy your trip. You’re on vacation after all – slow down. 

Make Sure You Know How to Disassemble and Reassemble Your Chair

Practice these skills before you go. If you’re traveling with companions, have them practice as well. And bring along your manual. Sometimes airlines require that power chairs be disassembled before stowing in the luggage compartment (ask about this ahead of time, so you know), which means airport personnel may need to take apart your chair and put it back together again. They’ll appreciate having instructions. 

Get Out There!

Reliance on a wheelchair doesn’t mean you can’t travel. With careful planning, you can see what you want to see.