Tips for traveling with a disability
I’ve had a few staycations in the past. I visited my hometown when I was little for a few days, and my family stayed at a hotel on the beach when I was in high school. These little trips were obviously pretty minimal travel, but there was still plenty to learn from them! Between those experiences and the hours and hours I’ve spent researching, I’ve come up with a few things you’ve got to do when traveling with a disability.
Plan beyond the basics
Plan your route well ahead. If you’re taking a wheelchair or some kind of mobility aid, make sure you know the process of getting it on a plane, and which airline will hopefully get it to your destination safely. Look into hotels, which ones have accessible rooms, bathrooms, and are in an accessible area of town. Is it on a steep hill? Is there anything nearby, like a restaurant, convenience store, or other activities?
If you’re looking into tours, make sure you do careful research to see if they’ll be able to accommodate you. Even if their website says they can, it’s a good idea to reach out if possible because you never know to what extent it’ll actually be inclusive and how much you might end up missing out on. Look into transportation services as well, whether buses and trains are wheelchair accessible.
There’s a lot of potential complications when you’re traveling, especially if you’re disabled. Come up with a list of potential problems that could arise and make a plan for how you’d be able to deal with them. For example, if your wheelchair arrives damaged – what will be your game plan?
Choose your hotel wisely
The most popular choice may not be the right place for you. When choosing a place to stay, make sure the room will have plenty of space for you to navigate, a bathroom that you’ll be able to use, and amenities you’ll be able to enjoy, as well. A lot of places will say they’re accessible, but in reality, they’re really not. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask questions. Look up reviews and search for the hotel on Instagram to see pictures.
It’d also be a good idea to have your hotel near the other activities or places you plan to visit. The less you have to rely on potentially inaccessible transportation, the better.
Take A Pal, but not just any pal
It can be a huge help if someone without a disability is able to join you on your trip. For me, it’s pretty much the only way I’m able to travel anywhere at all. Pick someone you really trust, because if you’re like me, you might end up relying on them for things like using the bathroom or brainstorming ways to navigate an inaccessible location. Just because someone is your friend doesn’t mean you’ll travel well together. If you’re going to need their help, but upfront and honest about it.
You might decide that you don’t want to rely on any of your friends after all! In that case, you can reach out to family or look into hiring someone to be your aide while traveling. From all my research, this seems to be the most complicated aspect for someone in my scenario, but complicated doesn’t mean impossible.
Coordinate with travel organizations
There are companies that specialize in vacations for people with disabilities. They can help to find the flattest routes with as few curbs and steps as possible. Looking at their past record is a good way of finding out if they really know how to help people in your situation, and if they realize that every person with a disability has different needs.
Depending on where you’re going, it can be difficult to find the information you need online by yourself. Working with a company can help make the planning process go much smoother.
Be Insured if possible
Insurance can be super important when you’re traveling with a disability. You should not assume that the policy you have at home will cover you if you are in a foreign country, in most cases they won’t. Healthcare provisions differ greatly from country to country, and if you need to use something like the air ambulance services or have some kind of emergency treatment abroad, the costs could be astronomical.
For many people, insurance isn’t an option. I’m including it though because it is something to consider. Many disabilities mean that health complications can be much more likely than the average abled person.
Make the most of your experience
There are going to be times when your plans get changed last minute or you run into obstacles you’re not equipped to deal with. Things like your hotel not having a pool lift or the beach not having accessible chairs available. Try to keep this in mind when you go, have a few backup ideas ready, and don’t spend too much time being bummed about what you miss out on. Keep looking because there’s going to be so many other cool things for you to experience instead.
There’s so much for me to figure out before I could even think of booking a trip. For that reason, this post is just as helpful for me as it hopefully is for you. I’m still pretty far from planning my own trip, but I know I still have a lot to learn before I do!
What are your tips for traveling with a disability?
*This is a collaborative post and may contain affiliate links*