Take the Stress Out of Traveling with a Disability

AbilityVoice: a blog about mobility topics

There's no place like home - and that's especially true for those of us who have mobility challenges, chronic diseases, etc. We have our daily routines down pretty well and all the adaptations and comforts we need on hand, from our wheelchair van to accessible showers to having a full-stock of medications.

As convenient and comfortable as home can be, we can still really benefit from a getaway....physically, psychologically and spiritually. Granted, it's not easy to travel when you're a wheelchair user. We all have our share of traveling horror stories....usually one that involves inaccessible destinations or equipment malfunctions. Many of you have probably run up against a "lack-of list" like the one below while traveling:

  • Lack of accessible airport transfer
  • Lack of wheelchair accessible vehicles
  • Lack of well-adapted hotel rooms
  • Lack of professional staff capable of informing and advising about accessibility issues
  • Lack of reliable information about a specific attraction's level of accessibility
  • Lack of accessible restaurants, bars, etc.
  • Lack of adapted toilets in restaurants and public places
  • Inaccessible streets (cars parking on the sidewalk, etc)
  • Lack of disability equipment (wheelchairs, bath chairs, toilet raisers, electric scooters)

Doing a little homework ahead of time can save the headaches that these "lack ofs" can cause. Personally, I like to stick to traveling by road to avoid airline transfers and unreliable public transportation. If you're fortunate enough to have an accessible van (like my Braun Entervan!), you're halfway there already! Some of my favorite places to visit are state and national parks, many of which have accessible paths. I've had some wonderful trips to botanical gardens, museums and even an amusement park or two as well.

If you're looking for some tips on safe, accessible travel that's a little more outside the box, it's best to hear from someone who's been there before. I've found a few helpful websites that allow me to do just that. Disabled-World.com has a practical section on traveling with disabilities, including a list of the most common challenges us wheelchair users face and how to prepare for them so they don't sideline your vacation. Another terrific site...AbilityTrip.com, which polls travelers with disabilities on the most accessible places to travel and has lots of insider feedback, tips and suggestions.

Wherever you go and however you get there, I hope you take the time to get out for a while. Change is good, and memorable experiences are what life is all about...even when it alters your comfortable routine! Make the necessary preparations, ask for some help, and listen to the people that've been there before...you'll figure out everything you need to make your next trip one for the memory book!