Long lines, delays, mysteriously missing reservations, and lost luggage are just a few of the annoyances that come with traveling. These annoyances are dreadful for everyone, but if you are a traveler with special needs, they sometimes become serious issues. Combine that with all of the considerations that must go with planning a trip when you have special needs and a trip seems daunting. Fortunately; Ingenuity and some careful planning help keep the enjoyment in the trip.
Planning a Trip
First consider how long you plan to be gone, where you plan to go and how you plan to get there. (Note; if this is a vacation, sometimes traveling in the off season is much more enjoyable. This gives the luxury of less crowds and more available resources as well as cooler temperatures and less heat related fatigue).
- Travel agents or tour companies are excellent resources for setting up a trip with all of the necessary accommodations. Remember to give them all of the necessary information such as your mobility requirements and any equipment you may travel with. I used a tour company when traveling to Italy and the convenience of it all was worth every penny. They quoted a price; and for that price, they arranged and purchased tickets for: flight there and home, boat, train and bus tickets in various cities, hotel accommodations and local tour guides for each city. All that was necessary was to show up, purchase meals and attraction tickets and the rest was all taken care of complete with a travel itinerary that said where to be and when.
- Check on your hotel. You can research most facilities online; however, don’t be shy about calling and asking for necessary accommodations. Having a room on the first floor really makes life with a suitcase easier. Its also important to note stair/ramp access, pool access, restrooms etc. It also helps to find out if the hotel has shower chairs available or any other special accommodations you may need.
What to Bring
- The most important item to have when traveling with all the necessary gear and medication is a doctors prescription and note of explanation. (for medications, and cooling vests).
- Medications should almost always accompany you on board in a small cooler with an icepack(if your medication requires). This allows you to still have your medications in the event that you and your luggage are separated. Also; keep in mind you can purchase or obtain free from some drug companies, a needle clipper. This clipper will cut off and store the needle in a small handheld device as opposed to lugging your sharps container everywhere. This renders the remainder of the syringe safe to dispose of in the trash.
- Use a wheeled, carry-on sized suitcase. As a veteran traveler I highly recommend using a small carry-on suitcase for all of your travel needs if you can get away with it. You can always find a place to do a load of laundry if you plan to be away for a while but this configuration helps avoid lost luggage, lessens fatigue from carrying your bag everywhere and waiting in baggage claim after your flight.
- Keep in mind the topography of where you plan to be. If where your visiting has loads of cobblestone streets, a rolling walker may not be the best aid. Take what works best for where your going. A cane may mean moving about slower but it may free up your options for where you go. If a cane doesn’t work for your condition perhaps forearm crutches are a possibility. Talking with your doctor may reveal many alternatives you hadn’t considered. Just remember; a great trip can turn loathesome if your fighting your way around everywhere you go.
- Remember many facilities offer free wheelchairs to use while you are there. Places such as airports, museums, and others can turn what would be a fatiguing visit into a more enjoyable vacation. don’t let pride keep you from having a great trip.
- Take advantage of early boarding for people needing assistance at the airport
- Try to arrange an isle seat near the front of the plane. (Anything to lessen walks and waits will help with fatigue, and close proximity to the washroom helps with those sudden need to go moments).
- Always keep medications in their original labeled containers.
- Keep hydrated and make sure you rest when you start to feel fatigued. Nothing can ruin a vacation faster than feeling sub-par while wrestling with long lines and navigating difficult terrain. Sometimes just taking a 30 minute break at a local cafe can reset you for the rest of the day.
- Know where the hospitals are in the cities you plan to visit
- utilize baggage porters or valets when you need to.
Enjoy your trip!