When you use a wheelchair to get around, it makes so many things more difficult. Traveling can be one of the most difficult things to do when you are in a wheelchair, but it does not have to be.
Most people do not realize that people in wheelchairs can travel alone to distant places. In fact, it is not unusual to see a passenger in a wheelchair completely solo on international journeys.However, when they decide to travel, there are a set of unique challenges that come into play because of their handicap. Here are some wheelchair accessible travel tips for anyone in a wheelchair who decides to travel to a foreign city:
What to do to get ready for your trip
Alert friends and family – When you decide to travel alone make sure that you alert family and friends as to your travel itinerary. Write down in great detail your plans including flights, hotels you will be staying in and any sites you will visit. Provide local numbers for hospital, police and fire department and give the number to someone working at the hotel you will be staying who can be contacted if you cannot be. You will also give the numbers of these people to the hotel personnel and tour guide in the country you are staying. Your goal is to have someone on call if needed at all hours.
Make sure your wheelchair is in perfect working condition – Wheelchairs like any other devices need servicing. Make sure that your chair is in perfect working condition before you leave, because trying to get it serviced in an unfamiliar city can be a nightmare.
So take the necessary steps and do whatever is needed regarding servicing. Also if it is a battery powered model make sure that the battery is in good condition, and you have an adapter that can charge where you are traveling. Different countries use different style plugs and some use 220 volts as opposed to the 110 volts in the US. Make sure you travel with an adapter if needed.
Plan out how you get through the airports – Getting through the airport in a wheelchair can be tricky. There is usually lots of confusion and you need to be in many different places throughout your time there. So first call your departure and arrival airports, let them know you are a wheelchair passenger and ask if they provide assistance to wheelchair passengers. If they do, they will tell you where to meet the person who will assist you. If not, they will tell you how to navigate through the airport in your wheelchair. Find all of the gates on the airport map so you can orient yourself ahead of time.
The airline will also let you know how you will get your wheelchair on the plane. They will typically board and deplane you and your chair separately. Some chars will be stored beneath the plane. If your wheelchair must be disassembled, you should provide instructions for the handlers to do this and then to put the chair back together so it can be brought to you. You should expect that things will take longer so give yourself extra time to get through the airport.
Arrange for transportation from the airport – You will need to insure that you have transportation when you land and this might require specialized travel if your wheelchair is large or if you have severe mobility issues. Call to your hotel in advance and let them know you are in a wheelchair and will need transportation arranged for you form the airport. Most reputable hotels will either provide a car or arrange for the right type of car to meet you at the airport. They will take you straight to your hotel and your trip can begin. This transportation can also be used to get your around the city while you are there.
Traveling when you are handicapped certainly presents a set of challenges. But with planning and common sense you can have a great time.