Travel is once again an option. The pandemic put a chink in travel, but we are free to hit the road again or the air. Using a wheelchair for mobility does not mean you cannot roam the globe. It does mean you want to have the right equipment like one of the lightweight folding wheelchairs to take with you on your travels.
It also means that you will need to do some prep work and follow a few tips to make travel easier and more comfortable. These tips will help you get to your destination stress-free.
Air Travel Tips
Most airlines will go above and beyond to accommodate anyone in a wheelchair. In the US alone, there are about 3.6 million people that depend on a wheelchair for transportation. The airlines are supposed to follow the guidelines in the Air Carrier Access Act. Print a copy before you head to the airport if you need to educate anyone along the way.
When you are booking your flight, be sure to request a seat that has a lift-up armrest. Most airlines block off specific seats for wheelchair-using passengers, but they are not required to. Make sure you ask. Folding wheelchairs are great on planes, but you still need to ensure you can get in and out of your seat.
While you are speaking with the booking agent, make sure that you have them notate what type of wheelchair you will be using. For example, if you have a high-performance wheelchair with specific components that you will need to store during the flight, like specialty footrests for wheelchairs or other components. It is always a good idea to give the booking agent a heads up.
Cut out some of the stress of getting from one flight to the next by making your layovers a little longer. Longer layovers mean plenty of time to pull out a folding wheelchair, get it set up, and get to your next flight.
Cruising In A Wheelchair
Most cruise lines will have a “special needs” department, if you are going on a cruise, that would be the department to contact. All cruise lines have to abide by the ADA guidelines if they pick up passengers in the US. It is your responsibility to ensure that the cruise line knows what you need.
Before you get on board with your folding wheelchair in tow, ensure that you attach a tag to the wheelchair with assembly instructions, your name, address, and contact information. If you can put that information on your wheelchair in both English and Spanish, that would be a great help.
Ask about the “tendering” process. Tendering is how passengers move from the large liner to the smaller boat to shore. Some lines carry passengers, and others use mechanical lifts. It is good to know in advance what to expect.
Ask about restrictions. Wheelchairs that fold are typically allowed, but some cruise lines prohibit certain wheelchairs. Folding wheelchairs are always a good bet for travel.
A little extra pre-planning can go a long way. Do not let limited mobility keep you from travel. Bon voyage.