After a recent Facebook post by Bernadette got a lot of attention (and tons of questions), we thought we’d interview her and ask her to share her tips and tricks for traveling with a disability.
At the airport:
- Ask for a wheelchair if you don’t have a scooter and you get to skip the lines.
- If you’re in a scooter, look for handicapped line.
- There are usually ramps available — you just have to ask.
- Bernadette uses a Gogo Elite Traveler (best advice: charge it every time it’s not in use! Bring an extra charger, just in case.)
- See gate agent and let them know you need early boarding.
- You can ride the scooter to door of the plane.
- An airline employee will tag and store your scooter (they know what to do).
- It helps to know how heavy it is and the type of battery it uses.
- To get to/from the airport or for sightseeing at your destination: Request handicapped taxi, Uber offers handicapped rides in some places, carry bungee cord in case you need to store the chair/ scooter in a trunk that’s a little too small.
The concierge at your hotel can be helpful in so many ways
- They will request taxis or shuttles for you.
- They can coordinate tours, shopping, reservations, etc. that take your special needs into consideration.
- Request handicapped room (doors are wider, roll-in shower).
- Request shower chair (cover it with towel for comfort).
- They can provide information about getting around the property (ramps, elevators, courtesy shuttles/golf carts).
Many travel websites and apps are available to find accessible hotels, restaurants, pools, tours, etc.
- Expedia.com (Filter properties by Accessibility)
- Use Google Maps Street View to get the lay of the land before booking a hotel room
- Tripadvisor.com provides Search results for Wheelchair Accessible Restaurants, Hotels with Accessible Rooms
There are some wonderful travel websites/blogs such as:
Paris in a Wheelchair
Wheelchair Accessible Cities in Europe
What are the Top Tips you have to share re:accessible traveling?
- Get a wheelchair at the airport!
- Carry 2 chargers for your scooter — just in case.
- Use a lightweight manual wheelchair with pop-off tires — add a backpack that fits on the back of the chair.
- Ask for elevators, or even a freight elevator.
- If you haven’t traveled with your wheelchair or scooter, you should!
Traveling with a CPAP or BiPap?
Things to do before you fly:
- Pack your CPAP prescription from your doctor in your CPAP case.
- Seat Guru (seatguru.com): Pick a seat that has access to power if you need to use your CPAP machine on a long flight. Also, bring your airline’s phone number and website with you to check their assisted device policy. The airline has the final approval for in-flight usage.
- FAA Compliance Letter: Download from the manufacturer’s website and keep with your CPAP machine.
- Transportation Security Administration (TSA): Review the airport security page for medical conditions to confirm the process for CPAP machines (www.tsa.gov/travel/special-procedures).
- Review airline website for policies for using CPAP machine for in-flight use and restrictions for carry ons.
Things to do when you fly:
- Bring your CPAP machine in its case as carry-on.
- Prepare to show appropriate documentation (pack with your machine).
- Remove your CPAP from your luggage for security.
- Turn humidifier off, and turn on airplane mode (if your CPAP machine has it).
Car Rental tips for traveling with a disability: