Tips For Traveling With A Physical Disability
The world is becoming a ‘smaller place', is a common phrase often used by travel experts to describe the growing numbers of global holidaymakers. Individuals with physical disabilities are certainly not excluded from this growing trend, especially when non-discrimination laws and better accessible facilities are introduced across many travel destinations. If you are considered a disabled traveller or even if you have a physical condition that limits your movement we have put together a number of tips and recommendations designed to help plan your holiday.
Disabled travellers often have to use inadequate facilities and are often the subject of prejudice and disinformation. If you travel with a disability, physical limitation or mobility limitations it is useful to plan ahead in stages.
Choosing A Destination - Naturally, the availability of dedicated facilities that cater for special needs will vary between destinations. Depending on your condition and physical limitation, you must take this into account. Aspects such as mobility adopted public or private transport should be evaluated as well as public and private access such as common ramps and steps.
Your Doctor or Healthcare Provider - In many cases you might find it helpful to retain a note from your doctor (on an official letterhead) describing your condition. Should you be required to show evidence of your condition, this letter will help, as well as, it will help in cases where you might need to use the services of a local healthcare provider. They would use this information to provide accurate care.
Booking Your Accommodation - Depending on your limitations, you should ensure that the accommodation you have chosen could cater for your needs.
In particular, look at accessibility and mobility aspects from wheelchair access to simply having a working lift if you find walk difficult. If you require special bathroom facilities you must ensure that these are present.
Most hotels, certainly the bigger chains will be able to accommodate your needs provided you book well ahead and disclose your requirements on time. During the booking phase be as specific as you can about what you can and can't do and avoid using buzzwords that will make little sense to a non-healthcare professional. You might also consider using a dedicated travel agent who specializes in 'disabled travel' or 'accessible travel', which is the common phrase such travel agents use.
At The Airport - You should allow for plenty of time prior to boarding to accommodate your transportation within the airport and storage of your aids. Unfortunately, airline and airport staff members aren't always well trained in this area so allowing plenty of time will eliminate stress.
Flights - The single most important tip that travellers with a physical limitation agree on is avoiding connecting flights. Some airports are massive in size making the process of moving between terminals difficult and long. In addition, the mobility supporting services vary in quality and availability depending on the airport so you can't always trust this service. However, there is one exception to this. If you are unable to use the plane's toilets, you should consider shorter flights in which case using connecting flights make sense.
Note that crutches, canes and braces will form part of your weight allowance on flights so bear this in mind when you pack.
Medication - If you require medication to help manage your condition you should adhere to airport regulations on taking liquids on board and naturally ensure that you carry enough medication for the entire duration of your trip. You might also find it useful to retain a copy of your prescription on your person should you misplace your medication.
And lastly, ensure that you have a valid medical travel insurance policy that is up to date in terms of sufficient cover.