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Making Travel More Accessible for Wheelchair Users

By Complete Care Specialist March 10, 2020

Traveling long distances with any sort of mobility aid is a challenge. But for those who are wheelchair-bound or part-time wheelchair users, it's even more difficult.

Don't let that discourage you from taking the trip of your dreams, though! With a bit of forethought and preparation, you can still have the time of your life.

Read on for some tips that will help you plan a safe, accessible, and fun vacation when traveling with a wheelchair.

Do Your Research and Read up on Airline Policies

The absolute most important part of traveling with a wheelchair is to do your research first. Call ahead to the major locations you want to stay to ensure they have ramps, elevators, accessible bathrooms, and anything else you need.

Researching your airline's travel policies regarding traveling with a wheelchair is a must. Start by checking out this list of some of the best airlines and airports for wheelchair travel. Then, call them up before booking a ticket to make sure they're compliant with the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA).

When in doubt, read reviews online to see if people have had any problems with accessibility at these locations before. Don't be afraid to keep asking questions until you feel comfortable with your trip. You deserve to have a fabulous vacation, mobility aid or not.

Request More Legroom

Whether you're flying, driving, or traveling by train, it never hurts to ask for a seat with extra legroom. This can make transferring to and from your chair much less of a hassle.

If you're flying, call the airline to request bulkhead seating at the front of the plane. Many airlines will upgrade a wheelchair user to these seats at no extra charge, but confirm this before booking your ticket. Trains don't have bulkhead seating, but they do sometimes have accessible seats with more space.

If you're going to be taking a car once you arrive, see if you can contact an inclusive travel service at your destination ahead of time. This way, you won't have to worry about whether you'll have a wheelchair van available.

Bring Plenty of Supplies in Your Carry-On

Airlines are notorious for losing valuable luggage, which is why it's vital to pack at least three days of all your necessary medical supplies in your carry on baggage.

If you're concerned about finding clean, accessible bathrooms, it may help to keep a few closed system catheters handy. Make sure your medications and equipment are clearly labeled and in the original packaging to keep from getting stopped by TSA. Even better, invest in a TSA pre-check pass to cut your time going through security in half.

If you use a power chair or any other electronic medical devices, pack a power adapter in your carry-on. These are your best friend when traveling overseas.

It also helps to research the standard outlet voltage in the country you're traveling to. If you're going from America to somewhere with a higher standard voltage, it's worth purchasing a new wheelchair charger or an adapter converter to prevent any issues.

Don't Let Being a Wheelchair User or Wheelchair-Bound Keep You From Traveling

Hopefully, one day we'll live in a world where accessibility for all people is the norm. Until that day comes, following the above tips for how to travel when wheelchair-bound can help you have the adventure of a lifetime.

For more tips and tricks check out these additional resources:

If you'd like to stock up on medical supplies before you go, we can help. Check out our store for a wide range of supplies for all your urological, medical, and accessibility needs. Or call us at 800.503. 7604 and we will be happy to help!

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