Traveling with a disability doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. Half of the fun of traveling is getting there, and it won’t be fun if you’re not relaxed. The following tips will help you plan your trip with confidence so you’ll enjoy every step of your journey.
1. Speak with a Physician
Your physician can evaluate if you’re healthy enough to travel. Airlines may require a letter from your physician on official letterhead describing your condition, especially if you have metal implants. Request an extra month of prescription medications so that you may carry one set in your carry-on luggage, and the other in checked baggage.
2. Obtain Medical Alerts
Obtain a medical alert bracelet or necklace to wear if you have a medical condition that warrants it. Carrying a wallet card with medical alert information next to your identification card is also advisable, especially if you’re traveling alone.
3. Obtain List of Physicians
If you’re traveling abroad, ask your primary care physician or insurance company for a list of physicians at your destination. The local embassy at your destination can also be of assistance in locating physicians should a problem arise.
4. Speak with a Travel Representative
Talk directly to a representative when making travel plans. It is easy to make reservations online, however, there usually isn’t enough room in the comments box that you’re given to explain accommodation requests, such as a refrigerator in your room for medications. Call again 48 hours prior to your arrival to confirm special requests.
5. Consider Using a Specialist
Consider using a travel agent who specializes in disabled travel. There are many different types of disabilities, ranging from hearing impairments to those traveling in wheelchairs. A specialist can help ensure that your travel arrangements are a perfect fit for your specific health condition.
6. Arrange Transportation Prior to Arrival
7. Arrive Early When Flying
If flying is on the agenda, be sure to check in early; two hours for domestic travel and up to 3 hours for international travel. For those with wheelchairs, be sure that it is tagged at check-in.
8. Fly Non-Stop When Possible
Flying non-stop is preferable when you have a short distance to go. Flying non-stop or using fewer stops means that you’ll spend less time waiting in lines, and have a lesser chance of your luggage or wheelchair being lost or delayed from a previous flight.
9. Know Your Rights When Flying
The TSA has special rules that apply to travelers with certain medical conditions or disabilities when going through airport security. These rules apply to the transportation of medications, medical devices, implants and service animals. Screeners will use different procedures for disabled travelers as long as they’re made aware.
10. Share Your Travel Agenda
Provide friends or family with your travel agenda and mobile phone number before you leave on a trip. Discuss how, and how often, you will keep in touch during your journey. This will help to calm any fears your loved ones may have, especially if you are traveling alone.