What Disabled Travelers Need To Know About Accessible Travel3 min read
Here at Healthy Travel Blog, we’re big proponents of not letting anything prevent people from exploring this world. Sometimes, that’s easier said than done, and, unfortunately, accessible travel isn’t always easy for people with disabilities. And while many businesses and organizations work to ensure you’re able to get from one place to another and maneuver around a city with ease, not all have taken the necessary steps to make their planes, hotels, restaurants, etc. more accessible to those with disabilities.
Since the standards for accessible travel differ in each country, there are two important things you should know. One, be aware that you may face difficulty when trying to travel, including higher fees, poor facilities, and communication issues. And two, always prepare in advance. To help you do the latter, here’s a quick guide to planning a wonderful and safe trip:
- Talk to your doctor. Tell your doctor where you will be going and include other details about your trip, such as how you will be getting there and activities you plan on doing. He may offer advice on how to manage flying, finding local physicians, and other common issues that may arise when traveling. It also doesn’t hurt to get the official green light from your doc before hopping on a plane.
- Get a doctor’s note. When visiting your doctor, be sure to get a handwritten note from him detailing your condition, medications you’re currently taking, any special needs you may have, possible complications, and other important information. If you need to see a doctor during your trip, this will help him/her better understand your condition and ultimately provide a better treatment plan.
- Call ahead and explain your disability clearly. Find out if the hotel you’re staying at accommodates travelers with disabilities. If so, tell them exactly what your condition is and what your needs are when booking your stay. Be as clear as possible and inform them of what you can and cannot do. You should also call two days prior to your arrival to confirm the arrangements have been made.
- Carry medical alert information. You should carry a wallet card or wear a necklace that details your condition at all times, especially when traveling.
- Know the requirements for service dogs and equipment. You may also want to check with your country’s embassy about possible restrictions in the country of your destination. Service dogs, for example, aren’t always allowed in other countries, or they may require you to get specific vaccinations and bring documentation for your pooch. You should also find out if your destination has specific policies for devices such as wheelchairs, portable machines, oxygen tanks, etc.
- Consider purchasing travel insurance and research physicians at your destination. Before you go, look into physicians located at your destination who will be able to help in case of an emergency. Your doctor, insurance company, or the mPassport app can help you discover physicians. You should always purchase travel insurance to cover medical treatment during your trip in case of an emergency.
- When flying, avoid connecting flights. To avoid wasting time during a connecting flight, consider a direct flight. However if the trip is particularly long, you may want to book shorter flights to make it easier for you—especially if you have trouble using the airplane bathrooms. If you’re taking more than one flight, make sure your layover is at least an hour and a half long.
- Allow for plenty of time before departure if flying or using other public transportation. You’ll want to have extra time to get through security, board with ease, and make more arrangements if necessary.
- Bring spare parts and tools. If you use a device, you may want to bring extra parts and tools in case you have to take anything apart at any time, or if something breaks.
Image from Daily Kos.