Travel for wheelchair users is more convenient than it was less than 20 years ago, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. In a world built around people who can walk, being in a wheelchair still makes travel challenging. However, it doesn’t make it impossible for wheelchair users to travel around the country and the world.
For someone in a wheelchair, travel takes a lot more careful planning than it would for people who are mobile on their feet. But it is definitely worth the effort, as it makes the trip run more smoothly and be a more pleasant experience for the wheelchair user.
Here are some tips:
Planning a trip for someone who uses a wheelchair requires intensive research about transportation, accommodation, and activities. Doing it ahead of time will avoid disappointment and frustration.
Look at accessibility reviews online when you start planning your trip. Websites might claim that places are wheelchair-friendly, but the reality might be a different experience. Reviews give you a picture of what it’s really like to visit places or use facilities if you’re in a wheelchair.
Don’t rely on hotel booking sites to ensure that the accommodations offer all the amenities you need. Contact the hotel directly and ask the relevant questions. You can ask the hotel to send you pictures of their facilities.
For people using electric scooters and wheelchairs, a battery recharging facility is essential. Make sure your battery charging connection is compatible with the electrical supply at your destination. If it isn’t, get the necessary adaptors so that you don’t wind up with a flat battery and no way to recharge it.
These are extra questions that you need to question hotel staff about when you’re getting information about the facilities. As the saying goes, a stitch in time saves nine.
Get the right airplane seat
Wheelchair users often face difficulties so you should plan meticulously and well in advance. It’s vital that you inform the airline that a wheelchair user is booking a flight, as special accommodations need to be made. Most airlines offer bulkhead seating to wheelchair users at no additional cost.
However, there is only so much space per flight, and you need to book early if you want to secure a place. When it comes to connecting flights, ask for a more extended layover so that you’re not under pressure to get to the next boarding line.
The flight staff will help you board the flight and deplane afterward should you require assistance. In many countries, you will also receive preferential treatment at customs and excise counters as a courtesy should you need it.
Have a wheelchair ‘checkup’ before you go
Like all devices, a wheelchair can malfunction if not maintained regularly. Before undertaking a trip, make sure that all parts of the wheelchair are in working order. Check the brake function and that the wheels are not damaged. Take the wheelchair in for a comprehensive service before you leave.
You should also make sure you have clear instructions on how to assemble and disassemble the chair in case should it become necessary. Make sure that all detachable parts of the wheelchair are labeled with your name, address, and contact details.
Include a repair kit in your luggage so that the wheelchair can be fixed if something goes wrong while you’re traveling. The kit won’t be able to repair all the problems you might encounter, but it can help you address common issues presented by wheelchairs.
Having a kit can save you a lot of time and money if something malfunctions, as you won’t have to find a wheelchair repair service, pay the fees, and be without your wheelchair while it’s being fixed.