Thursday, October 31, 2019

Accessible Travel Tips For Land, Sea, & Air

With the holidays quickly approaching, people will be travelling to visit friends and family from all over the world! Traveling is a wonderful opportunity to broaden your horizons and experience new places, people, and foods. Sometimes, the challenges of traveling with your wheelchair and/or other adaptive devices can put a damper on things. Surprisingly, planning ahead can minimize most of that hassle. Remember: getting there is half the fun! Here are some quick tips to help you get ready for your next adventure! 

Equipment Check-Up

  • Before heading out, it’s important to make sure that your wheelchair, scooter, lift, and accessible vehicle are ready to travel. It’s a great idea to have your equipment serviced before you go. Better to be safe than sorry!
  • Our Accessible Living articles have some great tips for power and manual wheelchair users, including some great service recommendations. Click here to learn more.

Don’t forget us! Our service team at Custom Mobility can make sure that your equipment is in tip-top shape. Before you hit the road, we’d be happy to check your accessible vehicle, lift, and/or wheelchair. Feel free to give us a call at 800-622-5151, or visit to schedule an appointment. Remember, in case there any parts that may be needed to ordered, be sure to perform any maintenance to your equipment at least 3 weeks in advance.

Air Travel
We can all agree that it’s quicker to travel by plane than it is by car. For wheelchair users, flying is a bit more involved than it is for able-bodied passengers. To learn a bit about guidelines for traveling by airplane, click here. Please note that all travelers must be screened. If you need more assistance, feel free to call the TSA helpline, 72 hours ahead of time at: 855-787–2227.

Unfortunately, airplane aisles are too narrow to accommodate manual or power wheelchairs. If you are a wheelchair user, it is probably best to inform the airline that you need an aisle chair. These devices are the perfect size for squeezing into those narrow aisles and can get you to your seat. Since transferring can be difficult, requesting a seat located in the bulkhead and/or a seat with flip up armrest, will make the process so much easier.

Ever get that feeling like you’re forgetting something? Let’s take a few precautions to be sure that nothing from your wheelchair goes missing! By securing anything that could be separated from your wheelchair, such as cushions, footrests, armrests, etc., you’ll be more like to disembark the plane with all of your belongings intact.

For wheelchair users that have therapeutic cushions, taking this item on the plane will make sure that it isn’t lost, and will help to prevent any skin issues from occurring during the flight. 

Not all ground workers are familiar with wheelchairs. Before you head to the airport, be sure to type up instructions for assembling and disassembling your equipment. It’s also a good idea to speak with the crew, and explain how they should handle your wheelchair.

Expect the best, but prepare for the worst. In case something comes loose or needs adjustment, travel with a small tool kit. If you can, it’s always a great idea to travel with spare parts, such as tires, tubes, etc. If you plan to remain at your destination for an extended period of time, these items not readily available in most stores.

Once you make it onto the airplane, it might be difficult or impossible to move about the cabin. Most airline lavatories are extremely small and difficult to maneuver in. To prevent yourself from needing to use the restroom during transit, it’s a great idea to use the restroom before you board the plane.

Getting around once you land
For wheelchair users, hailing a taxi isn’t always an option. If you need an accessible taxi, here is a list of taxi services that offer accessible rides. In selected cities, Uber and Lyft might offer accessible transport.

For those who can drive with low-tech hand controls, some rental cars can be equipped with portable hand controls. Please call and the check availability with each rental car company.  

In case you need a ramp or other accommodations, it’s possible to rent a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle at your destination. For those coming to the Tampa Bay Area, Custom Mobility has a fleet of accessible vehicles for rent. Just give us a call!  

Road Trips and Accommodations
Staying with family or friends is a great way to save money! If you’re staying at a new location, it’s important to call ahead and ask accessibility-related questions. Don’t forget to ask family and friends to measure entryways, paths, door widths, bathroom space, and bed height. Stairs are like roadblocks for wheelchair users, so be sure to ask if your temporary residence has any. Just in case, it’s always a great idea to purchase a portable ramp and carry it with you. 

For the more adventurous at heart, staying at a hotel is always an option. Proper planning includes making a reservation for an accessible room. A hotel with 200 rooms is required to have eight rooms with accessible bathrooms. Of those, only two are required to have a roll-in shower. Smaller hotels, which have less than 50 rooms, are not required to provide roll-in showers. Remember, planning is key!

Accessible bathrooms typically consist of a bathtub and a bench. This accommodation typically which doesn’t work for those who use a roll-in shower chair. Calling ahead can help you to figure out whether the hotel has accessible bathrooms and, if so, which type they are. For the adventurous at heart who travel often, it might be a good idea to purchase a portable, roll-in shower chair. 

Room size matters too, especially because a wheelchair can take up a lot of space. A suite is often a good idea and might be a good alternative for those occasions when accessible rooms aren’t available. These are better than standard rooms because they offer more space and more bedding options, which is especially great for those traveling with companion. 

When traveling internationally, it’s easy to forget that ADA guidelines are not applicable. Before adventuring to other parts of the world, take special care to research accessibility items such as: curb cuts, steps, door width, elevators, and accessible bathrooms. 

Travel by an accessible RV can be another fun way to hit the road. What’s better, is that you only need to unpack once! Information outlined above, regarding accessible bathroom space and bedding, also applies when renting an accessible RV.

Online research is a great way to learn about various cruise lines. Be sure to type “special needs“ or “accessibility” into the search bar, and call the company if you have additional questions. 

Be sure to check their policies on accessibility, especially if you plan to travel alone. 

Travel agents, especially ones that specialize in travel for people with disabilities, can be an incredible resource. These individuals are extremely familiar with the ships, port access, and accessible excursions. They can even arrange for pre- and post-cruise accessible hotel rooms. 

Cruise travelers who have disabilities, may need things that most people don’t consider. Click here to learn about nine of the best cruise lines for people with disabilities.

Wherever you go, enjoy the ride! By taking the proper precautions and preparing for every possibility, you can finally relax and have fun! Life is too short not to. Here’s to wishing you safe travels!

Mary Carol Peterson

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