Disabled travelers have visited every continent in the world. The key to an enjoyable trip is planning ahead and knowing all resources available to you.
If you need wheelchair accessibility or other specialized facilities, booking accommodations well in advance ensures availability. Make an itinerary and check ahead to make sure sights and activities are accessible.
When traveling by air, book ahead for a bulkhead seat for extra space and convenience. If you have trouble walking, airlines can provide a wheelchair and assistance in boarding and deplaning. Airlines cannot usually accommodate electric wheelchairs or scooters in the cabin, so they must travel with the checked baggage.
If you need to check your wheelchair or scooter, request a ‘gate check’, which will allow you to wheel your chair directly to the aircraft. This makes boarding easier and allows you to oversee the loading of your chair or scooter. Be sure to take any removable parts or cushions off your chair or scooter and bring them with you onto the plane as they could get lost as contents shift in the baggage compartment.
An easy option for all-inclusive disabled travel is a cruise on an accessibly designed cruise ship. Most cruises have extensive accommodations in place for disabled travelers and passengers traveling in wheelchairs and scooters. Customized tours designed for disabled travelers are also a convenient option and can provide opportunities for social connection to solo travelers.
Many websites offer resources for all aspects of traveling with disabilities. One of the most comprehensive is disabledtravelers.com, offering travel agents, tours, and cruises specializing in accessibility, as well as discussion forums, information on renting wheelchairs, scooters, and wheelchair-accessible vans around the world, and links to resources for arranging travel companions and home exchanges.
Many websites coordinate travel companions for disabled travelers worldwide, as well as home exchanges between disabled travelers in different countries. Travel companions range from travel friends for solo travelers to aides for disabled travelers who need extra physical assistance. Home exchanges can be a great way to ensure that your accommodations are fully accessible and to get a taste of daily life in other countries.
If you are oxygen-dependent, require dialysis, have a service animal, or have any other special needs, emerginghorizons.com/resources/index.php3 offers a comprehensive list of resources for portable medical equipment and other products and services that can enhance your travel possibilities.
Before any trip, get a medical check-up and make sure that any prescription medications or medical supplies are well-stocked. Take enough to last the entire length of your trip, plus at least an extra seven day supply of all prescriptions and supplies in their original packaging. If you require frequent medical attention, bring along a copy of your prescription and recent medical records, just in case you require medical assistance while traveling.
If you use an electrical scooter or wheelchair, it’s a good idea to get it serviced before traveling. Americans with disabled parking permits can bring them along when traveling in the EU, as all European Union countries honor US permits.