What to consider when travelling as a wheelchair user - Forward Ability Support

What to consider when travelling as a wheelchair user

With summer in full-swing you might be able to sneak in another summer holiday before the cold weather comes back. Whether you’re planning a trip to the beach or the snow, travelling as a wheelchair user can come with its challenges and anxieties.

We’ve put together a list of travel tips that might be helpful as a wheelchair user.

Understand what ‘wheelchair accessible’ means at your destination.

If you’re travelling overseas, sometimes wheelchair accessibility doesn’t always have the same meaning. You may need to make prior arrangements to ensure you can have a safe and stress-free holiday. For example, some places may require a second person to operate a lift or there may be limited space around the bed which may restrict wheelchairs from going around.

Arrive extra early at the airport.

It’s standard practice to allow plenty of time for boarding and check-in, but as a wheelchair user, it often requires even more. Having to get through security and checking-in medications can eat into your time.

Speak to your airline beforehand.

It’s important to get the facts and understand what services you’re entitled to from your airline. You may be able to request seating with extra legroom and moveable armrests to ensure you can transfer in and out of the wheelchair easier. They may be able to help you with extra support where you need it.

Do your research for your travel needs.

Do you use a motorised wheelchair? Consider where you can safely power-charge your wheelchair. Not all outlets overseas can take the high voltage required. Note down a wheelchair help number or locate wheelchair shops in the area you will be travelling to. There’s nothing worse than having a mechanical issue and not knowing where to go.

Plan your bathroom breaks or use incontinence products.

More often than not, it is difficult for wheelchair users to frequent the bathroom on a plane. The space is cramped and small, and there are often no handrails to offer support. Having to go through security checks and transfer in and out of your chair may also cause prolonged pressure on your bladder. It may be best to plan out your bathroom breaks and use incontinence products if not already in use. Some airlines may offer extra support in the aircraft, such as foldable wheelchairs, so be sure to ask them before you check-in.

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