by AINSLEY LAWRENCE
Living with a disability should never stop you from trying new things, going on adventures, or exploring new places and cultures.
When it comes to traveling with a disability, there’s no question that there are some challenges to consider. However, with a bit of planning and preparation, you can mitigate those challenges and enjoy relaxing vacations, thrilling experiences, and everything in between.
Whether you have the travel bug or you’ve avoided traveling for too long because of your disability, let’s cover a few tips you can put into practice that will help you overcome some of the common challenges, and enjoy your experience – whether you go across the country or the globe.
Planning is a crucial part of going on a trip for anyone. However, when you have a disability, there might be more steps to your planning process. A lot of your planning process will involve your method of transportation. For example, if you’re heading out of the country, you will need to work with airlines and other transportation avenues that take pride in accessibility and inclusivity. Some of the best ways to plan ahead include:
- Making sure your travel insurance includes medical care;
- Using a specialized travel agent;
- Ensuring all accommodations are accessible;
- Arranging assistance in airports and on every plane.
No matter how independent you are, it’s also a good idea to travel with some type of support system. That might include a caregiver, a friend or family member, or even a small group. Traveling solo can be empowering, but there’s really nothing better than experiencing the world with loved ones. Plus, as a person with disabilities, being with people you know and trust is much safer.
Finally, choose the right location. Not every famous landmark is accessible to everyone, so make sure to do your research when it comes to where you want to visit and what you want to do while you’re there.
Bringing the Right Equipment
Depending on the disability you’re dealing with, having the necessary equipment is essential to safe traveling. People who use mobility devices like a wheelchair or electric scooters might find it difficult to bring them along while traveling.
In your planning stage, consider looking into wheelchair rentals at airports and hotels. Renting a piece of equipment once you reach your destination will keep you from having to carry it around everywhere you go.
Alternatively, if possible, consider a road trip. You’ll have much more control over your equipment if you don’t have to worry about maneuvering through an airport. If you plan on frequently traveling with your own vehicle, consider investing in a hitch-mounted carrier so you can bring your equipment with you easily. With a bit of research and knowing the specifications of your mobility device, you can find a carrier that works for you, and you’ll have the equipment you need at the ready whenever you reach your destination.
Traveling with your own vehicle will also make it easier to bring other necessary equipment for your safety and comfort, including smaller mobility aids like a cane, and any medications you might need. While your car isn’t going to take you around the world, it’s a great way to “start small” with your travels and gain some experience.
Finding Medical Care While Traveling
While it can be tempting to go “off the grid” while traveling, your needs might require you to do otherwise. Not every place in the world has quality medical care. If you have a disability or special needs that might require specific medical attention at any given time, you’ll want to make sure you’re in a location where you can get the treatment you need quickly.
While it’s a good rule of thumb to seek out hospitals and emergency clinics ahead of time, it’s not impossible to find medical care while traveling. If you’re visiting a foreign country, consider reaching out to a nearby U.S. Embassy for help with finding healthcare. You can also access the International Society of Travel Medicine, or the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers to find an English-speaking doctor no matter where you are.
No matter where you go, don’t be afraid to use technology to your advantage — especially when it comes to getting adequate medical care. Telehealth has become more popular than ever, and it can be a great resource for those with disabilities who might need to regularly connect with doctors or specialists. Let your doctor know where you’re going and remain in contact with them throughout your trip, especially if you have any concerns.
You don’t let your disability hold you back from anything else, so don’t let it keep you from seeing the world. With a bit of planning, preparation, and safety tips in mind, you can have multiple adventures and overcome the challenges of traveling while experiencing everything the world has to offer.