Accessible Travel Tips for Wheelchair Users and Disabled Travelers


iAccess Life Accessible Travel Tips

Traveling as a paraplegic or with a physical disability can be quite stressful especially if you’re doing it alone. You may have a hard time knowing whether your destination is wheelchair-accessible or not, though we are working diligently at iAccess Life to build a platform for the disabled community to share ratings & reviews of their experiences with accessibility in public business and establishments. When traveling, many aspects of your journey may not be so friendly considering most forms of travel are not optimized for travel with a wheelchair or another mobility aid but we have put together some travel tips and gathered some useful videos that we hope will help you plan your trips so that you can focus on making great memories.

Here are the best accessible travel tips for wheelchair users and travelers with a physical disability:

Flying Independently in a Wheelchair by our friends at Wheels2Walking

Getting to the Airport

Finding a ride to the airport

If you’re planning to fly, getting to the airport might be tricky due to a lack of space for your wheelchair or mobility aide in the cab or ride share. We recommended that you try to order a wheelchair-friendly ride such as Lyft or Uber.  Lyft and Uber give you the option of picking bigger sized vehicles. As a wheelchair user, in general your best option would be to choose the XL. In some select cities you can select a UberAssist or Wheelchair-accessible vehicle (WAV) in the Uber app and accessible vehicle dispatch in the Lyft app.

Traveling in regular cabs may force you to put your wheelchair in the front seat. This may damage either the wheelchair itself or even the cab and equip you with unnecessary expenses. You can download either app in your app store.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Most drivers will always be more than willing to help.

If you’re not familiar with where exactly your plane terminal is, you can enter the terminal details into the app and you will be dropped off exactly where you need to be.

Wheelchair-rideshare-lyft-uber

While at the Airport

When traveling with a wheelchair or other mobility aid, your first stop should be the wheelchair inspection center. Here, you get to give a full description of your chair, stating whether it has any damage to it or not. This ensures that if the chair is damaged in the course of travel the airline will compensate you accordingly. The inspection will also prevent one from claiming damage which existed prior to traveling with the airline. Call ahead to your airline to get a description of where exactly in the airport you can find the wheelchair inspection center for the airline you are flying.

One accessible travel tip for wheelchair users that is often overlooked is to Use a Restroom Before Security Checks! Pat downs for those with physical disabilities may be somewhat invasive. You will be required to shift your body or move in certain angles. This will applied pressure on your bladder may cause an unexpected accident. To avoid this, we always recommend that you use the restroom right before you pass through security checks.

It is also advisable to stop drinking at least 2 hours before boarding the plane. This is because you will be unable to use the restroom on the plane unless you can actually support yourself all the way to the bathroom.  Caffeine should be especially avoided as it is diuretic which means it forces fluids out of your bladder.

Here are some additional TSA travel tips for Wheelchair users provided by the Wheelchairtravel.org

Get a Transporter if Necessary

Transporters are the people who help others find their way around the airport. All airlines provide transporters to assist the disabled, the elderly and those with weight issues and they are a valuable resource to assist you, especially if you are traveling alone.

Supplies to Take onto the Plane

Most of the times we tend to lose our luggage at the airport. This may be inconvenient for you especially if all your important items were in that lost bag. Always carry an extra bag of supplies which you will take with you inside the plane. Such supplies include medication, extra clothing, catheters, and a drinking water bottle from which you can take the occasional sip.

For those with sensitive skin, we recommend avoiding jeans. Wear soft pants to avoid skin sores or blisters which may form as a result of your skin rubbing again the rough material of jeans. Remember to carry a seat cushion for maximum comfort and do the occasional weight transfers to avoid getting stiff.

Using the restroom on the plane

If you would like to use your catheter, ask the flight attendant for a blanket to cover yourself and do not be afraid to use the catheter. Once you land, find the nearest restroom and dispose of the bag.

Some airlines such as the Southwest Airline are best for those who are traveling with a disability. This is because they allow you to pick your own seat. If you’re not comfortable using a catheter in the presence of other people, you can always pick a back seat where you will have some privacy throughout the journey.

TSA wheelchair inspection

Tips for Choosing a Hotel by our friends at Reeve Foundation

Picking a Hotel

When it comes to hotel reservations, let your questions do all the work for you. The following are essential in helping you know whether the hotel will be the most suitable for you. The following questions are also great things to consider when rating a hotel in the iAccess Life mobile app. We hope as you  travel you will share your experiences to benefit the next traveler.

  • Ask about the dimensions of the hotel doors and bathroom doors. This will help you figure out whether your wheelchair or mobility aid can easily pass through or not.
  • Find out whether the hotel has a bathroom bench. Bathroom benches are especially favorable to the paraplegic community as they enable you to shower more comfortably and independently.
  • Inquire about grab rails in the restrooms and showers. These enable you to support your body weight in the absence of the wheelchair.
  • Ask whether there is a connecting room in case you’re planning to go there with your assistant or caregiver.

The iAccess Life app is an app that allows the mobility impaired community to leave reviews of different places regarding accessibility and other necessary information. This app will help the community to decide whether or not they would like to book a place and provides them a platform for their voices to be heard. Users get to share their experiences and over time iAccess Life will build a comprehensive and rich database of all the most wheelchair-friendly places all over the word. You can download the iAccess Life app here.

wheelchair-friendly-hotel-bathroom

Tips for Prepping & Packing for Paraplegics by our friends at Adapted Adventures

Packing

In case you’re having trouble deciding what exactly to pack, here’s a list of fundamental items that will make your trip convenient and enjoyable:

Seat Cushion

Seat cushions on your wheelchair give you a sense of comfort through their soft, spongy feel. This will prevent you from getting a sore back even if you have sat on the wheelchair for a long period of time.

Fabric Deodorizer

The downside to sitting in a wheelchair for too long is that you may end up sweating on the chair or having an accident. You can apply fabric deodorizer to the cushion to prevent an undesirable smell. It is recommended that you have at least two fabric cushions so that even if you wash one, you will have an extra one.

Tube and Tire Changer

Accidents tend to happen all the time and accidents with you wheelchair are no exception. Always carry an extra tube and tire changer so that you are not inconvenienced if one of your wheels is damaged.

Before traveling, inspect your wheelchair to ensure that it is in its best condition. Double check the axle nuts and bearings and see to it that they are tight and in place.

Luggage

Many of our friends have recommended the luggage designed by Phoenix Instinct. Their Unstoppable travel bags are designed to work seamlessly with wheelchairs for easy, independent travel. Never again struggle or rely on others moving your bags. The Twin Set consists of two bags, a large check-in bag and a connecting hand luggage back pack. The brand new Compact is ideal for a short break and when you don’t want to check you bag in. Turn your Phoenix bag into a protective case for cameras and tech with our foam infills found in Accessories.

Health Tips

When travelling away from home, it is important that you keep daily medical needs in mind when planning a trip. Its important to keep your primary medical providers contact information handy as well relevant information on your regular prescriptions, relevant information about your condition, potential complications, etc. This will ensure that if you seek medical assistance while traveling that a new medical provider can effectively treat you . It might also be worth while to identify a medical provider in the area you are traveling to in case you need medical assistance for your condition while you are abroad.

One of the best accessible travel tips that everyone should follow is to make sure to bring extra medication. We strongly suggest that you carry extra medicine with you, especially if you aren’t sure you can get the same necessary medication wherever you are traveling. It is also recommended that you pack all medications in a single carry-on bag, as you don’t want to check your medication in the unfortunate event that the airline were to lose your luggage.

Flying as a Wheelchair User with TSA Cares

How to Ride the Train in a Wheelchair

In conclusion…

The travel tips for traveling with a wheelchair are endless. For utmost comfort, make sure you know what works for you and what doesn’t. For instance, a hotel may not have a pool that is wheelchair-accessible. If you’re a swimmer then this would not be the most suitable hotel for you. But if you have no interest in swimming then the hotel would be just perfect for you. Remember to use the iAccess Life app to see the reviews of other paraplegics concerning a place.

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