Did you ever cancel a trip because of a bad knee or other mobility impairment? Have you avoided cruises and family events that require travel for fear you’ll need oxygen mid-trip? Relax.
Today’s world is more accessible than ever, and for anyone with special requirements for traveling, there’s a world of information and help waiting for you. It’s disappointing to be left behind or to have to leave a loved one behind because of a physical limitation or special travel need. Not having everyone around diminishes the fun for those who do make the trip, especially if the trip is a family event. Out-of-town weddings, family celebrations, reunions and multi-generational trips are simply more fun and more memorable for everyone, when every member of the family or group can participate.
Here are a few tips to ensure that when the next travel opportunity arises, you are ready to go.
Outline your travel needs
Take time to evaluate the logistics of the trip in relationship to your ability to keep pace.
What modes of transportation will you be using? Airplane, motor coach, train, ship, transit vans for ground transfers? Make a list, referring to relevant brochures, your trip organizer or travel agent to make sure you don’t miss anything.
Now, make a list of your specific requirements. Be honest, what types of special needs equipment do you depend on at home? What do you use or need (or wish you had!) when shopping, sightseeing locally, dining out or going to the movies, attending concerts, the theatre, street fairs or sporting events at home? Can you hear and see clearly without special auditory equipment or visual aids? How far can you walk without a rest break? Are stairs difficult? Can you get in and out of the tub or shower at home without handgrips or other assistance?
Travel, whether solo or in a group, is full of challenges. This is no time for being a martyr or trying to “tough it out.” If a wheelchair, scooter or portable oxygen will make your trip easier, place that item on your list. Many people who do not use wheelchairs or walkers at home feel more comfortable using these mobility aides for tour and excursions. In fact, most of our wheelchair and scooter rentals are to individuals who only use such aides when traveling.
Keep in mind, most airlines need at least 48 hours’ notice to make special arrangements and be prepared to fill out forms. Overall cruise ships are more lenient in allowing oxygen, but some disallow certain types of oxygen. All require that the oxygen be delivered to the ship, and that you have enough for the entire voyage. Oxygen may never be brought aboard in your luggage. Requirements vary, so check your cruise line for proper instructions. Again, documentation and paperwork are required.
Whether you are headed for a cruise ship, hotel or all-inclusive resort, double check for wheelchair access at that venue plus any venues you will be visiting on the trip. The earlier you book, the better your chances of securing fully accessible accommodation. And early booking increases your chances of securing a ground floor hotel room or cruise stateroom near the elevator, if these issues are important. Knowing in advance the scope of your needs gives you time to arrange advance rentals of any necessary equipment, scheduled to arrive when you do.
When traveling with a limitation or disability, full travel insurance for medical coverage abroad and trip cancellation insurance are even more important and strongly advised.
Simply stated, don’t take anything for granted. It’s easy to arrange for almost every situation, and the world is wonderfully accessible, once you know what’s needed, what’s available and how to find the necessary equipment.
I look forward to helping you with all your accessible travel needs!