Thursday, February 08, 2018

Five Quick Travel Tips For The Mobility Impaired

Already this winter, many Americans have endured much colder weather than normal. With sustained warmer weather still several weeks or months away, a quick trip to some place warm and sunny is often just what the doctor ordered, especially for people with limited mobility.

The Americans with Disabilities Act gives mobility-impaired individuals the right of equal access to all public facilities. However, a company may not necessarily give it to you just for the asking. So, before you book those travel plans, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Talk to Your Doctor

Describe the trip in detail, including destination, travel time, length of stay, mode of travel, and possible activities. A family physician is a great resource in this area, especially if you aren’t used to traveling with mobility impairments.

Ask the doctor for a letter describing your condition and your physical limitations. This letter could be important both for hotel/transportation facilities and any planned activities. The correspondence should also have the doctor’s emergency contact information and the name and number of a local physician who’s aware of the situation.

Make Advance Preparations

In a perfect world, mobility-impaired individuals would show up at airports or hotels and all their needs would be met. But we don’t live in a perfect world. Many times, there’s a choice between complaining about the situation later or handling it proactively. The latter usually works best.

Do more than just mention the situation when you make the reservation. Be very specific about your condition and your needs. Do not minimize either one of them and do not use specialized language or acronyms that many people do not understand. Use email or written confirmation if possible and voice verify the arrangements a day or two before you arrive at the facility.

Avoid Connecting Flights

Most airlines are very good about giving mobility-impaired individuals extra time to board and deplane. They’re also very good at ensuring that wheelchair passengers are the first ones on and first ones off. However, multiple connecting flights are often a hassle that’s just not worth it.

There are always exceptions, most notably if a direct flight would be very long and you have extreme difficulty navigating to an airplane’s restroom and back. If you do use connecting flights, allow at least an hour and a half, and maybe two hours, to get from one gate to the other.

Bring Spare Parts

Murphy’s Law isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you always assume that something will go wrong, you are at least prepared. That’s especially true with regard to rollators, walkers, and wheelchairs. Bring spare parts and tools. Furthermore, many airlines will ask individuals to dismantle these instruments in flight, so be prepared for that.

Once you reach your destination, be sure there is suitable transportation waiting for you. If that means a hotel shuttle, be sure the driver knows what to expect.

Splurge a Little

First class has a lot more room than coach. For some people, that’s just a luxury, but in some cases, it’s almost a necessity. Furthermore, upgrading to a lounge will make those airport waits a lot more bearable. In some cases, the airline might be willing to upgrade you at a lower cost. Remember, you never get anything unless you ask.

The flight to and from that tropical locale or warm, sandy beach may be what you remember more than the vacation itself. So, take a few minutes to ensure that your transportation is as seamless as possible and be prepared for some bumps in the road.

This is a guest blog entry.

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