Traveling with a disability can be overwhelming, but can be made more easily accessible for people with a variety of disabilities by following some tips and getting help from well-informed groups and travel agencies.
8 Tips for Traveling with a Disability
- Discuss the trip with your doctor. Make sure you specify where you will be going, as they might have some tips and tricks for long flights and the accessibility of medical resources where you are travelling.
- Make sure doctors or other medical personnel will be available by phone at any time, should you need them. Take a note with their phone numbers and with a statement from your doctor documenting your specific medical needs.
- Consider choosing a travel agent that specializes in providing accommodations to people travelling with a disability. Often they know the best hotels, car services and destinations that have accommodations for specific disabilities.
- Call ahead. By giving advanced notice, there will be time for the necessary arrangements to be made to accommodate your needs. Mention your specific needs when making a reservation and call a day or two before your arrival to ensure that these needs have been met before you arrive at your destination.
- Specify when describing your disability to your service provider because they might not be well-informed about your specific disability unless you describe it to them. This is the best way to ensure that you get all of the accommodations you need when you’re travelling.
- Arrive early. Allow extra time to get through security, to your gate and to board the plane. Plan to get to the airport at least two hours before your domestic flight and three hours before if you are travelling internationally.
- Carry medical information on you at all times in a place that it will be easily found by medical personnel (purse, wallet, fanny pack, necklace).
- Bring enough medication for your entire trip and then extra, in case of travel delays. Some medications that are legal in the United States may not be legal in the country you are travelling to, so check with the local embassy to confirm. Carry pills in their original, labeled containers and not in a pill box. Store these in your carry on bag so you will always have easy access to your medication.
Groups that provide accommodations to travelers with disabilities
Special Needs Group — Special Needs at Sea
Special Needs at Sea provides users with a list of major cruise companies that use Special Needs Group as their only preferred supplier for providing aid for accessible travel. They provide a broad range of equipment to make travel easier and more enjoyable. Some examples of equipment they provide for rental are:
- Scooter rentals
- Oxygen units
- Audio and visual aide
- Baby crib rentals
- And many others
This equipment is delivered directly where you want it, for your convenience, whether it be hotel, airport, convention center, loading dock for the cruise ship and anywhere else you might need. To get a price quote for rentals to any of their locations, call toll free 1-954 585-0575 or 1-800-513-4515 or visit their rentals page.
They even sell a specialized beach wheelchair called Joy on the Beach which is meant for taking on sand with ease. It can be completely submerged and used in water as well.
Trips Inc. has been offering all-inclusive vacation packages for people ages 18+ with intellectual and developmental disabilities for 26 years! Their mission statement is:
“To provide travel opportunities to people of various abilities in a safe, respectful, and fun atmosphere. All of our special adventures seek to create an environment that promotes personal and emotional growth, friendship and learning.”
Their vacation packages include trips all across the United States to places like the Grand Canyon, SeaWorld in San Diego, many of the Disney Resorts, Hawaii, and even to Canada and Italy!
Before travelling abroad, ensure that your service animal will be able to travel with you by:
- Contacting their embassy to ask any questions and ensure that there are no bans on your dog breed
- Ask about the country’s policies on service animals
- Make sure your dog is up to date on all of his or her vaccines and check if there are any new ones they will need for travelling to your specific destination
- Carry a letter informing everyone of your dog’s job translated into the language of the country you are visiting
- Microchip your dog! Most countries require it and it will help if your dog ever gets lost or separated from you.
- Outfit your dog with distinguishable service dog gear such as a vest or harness that specifies how your service animal helps you, while letting people know that they have a job to do and not to distract them.
- Learn about re-entry policies to your country.