Tips for Traveling with Disabilities
Traveling with disabilities or accessible traveling can seem, for some, like an overwhelming task with so many extra considerations. However, it doesn’t have to be if the right research, planning, and preparations are done ahead of time. There are even travel agencies that specialize in disabled travel. The most important thing is to be prepared.
1. Consult with a Physician
Whenever a disabled person is planning to travel, one of the first steps to take is to discuss the travel plans with the person’s physician. Be sure to give the doctor an accurate picture of what the trip will entail. In many cases, the physician can help plan for medical needs while traveling. The doctor can prescribe certain measures to help make travel easier and can provide you with a medical statement for emergency situations. It is also helpful to have your doctor’s name and phone number available while traveling, as well as to identify medical care at the travel destination. Be sure to carry extra medication in case of unforeseen delays and have all medication in carry-on bags to prevent loss. Be prepared because the doctor may also advise against certain types of travel depending on the disabled person and their disability.
2. Know Your Rights
When planning for accessible travel, it is important to know the rights of people with disabilities. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has certain procedures for travelers with disabilities and medical conditions. It is important, before going through airport security, to understand these procedures. The Air Carrier Access Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) also provide information regarding the laws for those traveling with disabilities. Unfortunately, many employees of airlines, cruises, theme parks, and other travel destinations will not know the law regarding those with disabilities, so it is always best to obtain the information ahead of time.
3. Plan Ahead
Planning ahead is the most important tip and encompasses all the other tips. One easy way to plan ahead is to hire a travel agency that specializes in accessible travel. These agencies can plan for the specific disabilities and needs of the traveler with disabilities. If you wish to plan your own travel, then begin to plan early. First, research and create an itinerary for your trip. Websites can be helpful in obtaining information about accessibility and services offered. Even with websites, calls should be made to schedule the necessary accommodations that are needed to make each stop on the itinerary enjoyable. Remember to be detailed when describing the disability, so that everyone understands the limitations accurately.
Planning ahead for flights can also be very helpful for people with disabilities. If possible, avoid connecting flights and fly direct to the destination. It is also recommended to check in with the flight attendant before landing to make an exit plan. Once you’ve disembarked, if a wheelchair is necessary, make sure you have set up accessible ground transportation to and from the airport. All of this can be done ahead of time to help ensure more relaxing travel for everyone involved in the adventure.
The experience of travel can be smooth and enjoyable with the right information and planning. Of course, even the best plans can experience turbulence along the way, but planning and documenting can help to lessen any bumps along the way. Just remember, after calling and booking for the special needs, call again and touch base 24-48 hours in advance of traveling to ensure all appropriate accommodations are in order.
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