Travel Tips for People with Physical Disabilities

Millions of people will heading out on the roads and flying in planes this upcoming holiday season for vacation and family get-togethers. If you experience a physical disability that limits your own mobility or functionality, chances are travel poses a unique challenge for you. Don’t miss these essential tips for traveling smarter this holiday season:

Plan Ahead

Don’t get caught off guard when it comes to traveling and knowing which places have the best accessibility for you.

Using the restroom on a road trip or when flying can be a huge obstacle for people with physical disabilities. When traveling by car, plan to stop at easily accessible rest stops, petrol stations, and restaurants where possible to make toileting easier, and check with your airline about accessibility to plane bathrooms (i.e. moving your seat closer to one).

Stick to Your Routine

While travel can have its share of surprises and spontaneity, it’s critical to try and stick to your routine as much as possible. Your sense of stamina is very much dependent on the schedule your body is used to, so try and work this knowledge into your plans and itineraries accordingly.

For example, if you usually nap for 30 minutes in the afternoon, try to not skip napping during your holiday travels. Instead, work family get-togethers and sight-seeing around your rest times so that you can stay in peak condition when you are active as well as avoid becoming fatigued or worse, sick.

Maximize Comfort

Ensure that your prolonged ride in a car, plane, or train doesn’t take its toll on your body. Extended periods of time spent sitting in an atypical seat like the car or a train or plane can place added pressure on the spine and stress lower back and neck muscles.

Aids like memory foam seat cushions for the car can provide extra support and weight distribution to your coccyx and rear, while lumbar spine cushions or neck pillows can support good spine alignment and prevent muscle strain. Avoiding common aches and pains when traveling can mean the difference between you enjoying your vacation or not.

Avoid Inclement Weather

Getting out of the car in a giant rainstorm is difficult enough, much less when you are using a mobility aid like a wheelchair or walker. Inclement weather on the road can be dangerous for driving and for navigating slippery parking lots and walkways on your stops to fill the car with petrol or use the restroom.

Apps like DarkSky and give you quick, accurate forecast data to help you gauge your proximity to storm systems or other bad weather. Use your smartphone or other mobile device with data to access real-time weather reports when you are traveling by car or train. And double check the upcoming forecast for your destination when traveling by plane to make sure you pack appropriately.

Keep Snacks Accessible

Staying alert, hydrated, and happy while you travel often times comes down to getting enough to eat and drink. When you have mobility limitations, making sure healthy snacks are within reach so you don’t have to get up to retrieve food or water is a must.

Keep travel snacks in your day pack, purse, backpack, or other personal item and stow away by your feet if possible. And ditch processed snacks loaded with salt and sugar – they’ll only make you feel bloated and lethargic. Aim to pack foods like carrot sticks, hummus, cheese, apple slices, nuts, and whole grain tortilla chips with you instead.

Additional Considerations

Before traveling anywhere, you will want to confirm coverage and benefits of both your health and travel insurance. In the case of a medical emergency, you will definitely want to know that you are covered for medical expenses no matter where you are. Unexpected natural disasters also present problems as it becomes much harder for those with disabilities to evacuate or seek assistance. Find out if there are evacuation protocols in place with local agencies where you are going for people with disabilities.

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