Tips to Prepare You for Traveling by Wheelchair

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Traveling by wheelchair does not have to be as difficult as you think. The secret is: plan way ahead! With “plan ahead” I mean that you have to inform yourself about the best way to travel, best hotels and the accessibility of the attractions you want to visit. If you make sure you have all the correct information and consider possible setbacks, you are set to go! Here are some wheelchair travel tips that can make your trip a bit easier.

Always stay in touch

First of all, you should always have a cell phone with you in case you want to reach someone in an unexpected situation. Because it is difficult to call someone without phone credit internationally, make sure you have enough. However, for people in a wheelchair it is not always that easy to hop over to the store for new credit. You’d have to find an accessible taxi or some other form of accessible transportation, which can often be an adventure in itself, and then head to the store. Luckily though, you can use sites like Recharge.com for an instant online mobile top up. The advantage is that you can top up your phone credit anywhere and anytime, even when you are abroad!

wheelchair travel tips wheelchair travel tips wheelchair travel tips

wheelchair travel tips

 

Ways of transportation

If you are traveling by plane, it is always best to book a direct flight. These are often a little more expensive, but why not make it easy on yourself and avoid connection flights? Make sure to be at the airport early as well so you can preboard the plane. It can often take a little extra time transferring into an aisle chair and then into a plane seat, and I definitely don’t like everyone on the plane watching me do this. Try to arrive at the airport 2-3 hours before your departure time. During your travels you can use public transportation like buses, ferries, and trains as a cheaper alternative to taxis. In most big cities, but not all, the public transportation is wheelchair friendly. Try googling before you go though to make sure. Just take your time and ask an employee for help. You can also ask the staff of your hotel for advice or help.

 

wheelchair travel tips

All black cabs in London have a fold out ramp!

 

Book a suitable hotel

It would be wise to look for an accessible hotel ahead of time. I recommend searching for a place to stay on Tripadvisor. You can select different features including ”Wheelchair access”. This way you have a list of all the accessible hotels. However, “accessible” can mean different things to different people so I wouldn’t recommend booking a hotel online just because it says that it’s accessible. Instead, call the hotel and ask specific questions such as “is there a roll-in shower? How wide are the doorways? Is there an access lift on the hotel pool?”. Looking online can be great as a reference to help you get an idea of what hotels you might want to stay at, but still call the hotel to really find out the details.

wheelchair travel tips wheelchair travel tips wheelchair travel tips

wheelchair travel tips

This large bathroom at the Inn on Biltmore Estate had a roll in shower and a pull under sink!

 

Seeing the sights

Not all tourist attractions are easy to reach. However, in most cities you won’t face any difficulties in accessing the attractions. Check out the tourist attractions online to make sure they are wheelchair friendly and maybe even shoot them a quick email just to double check before you go. Some attractions may even offer discounts to wheelchair users, especially if the attraction isn’t 100% accessible.

 

wheelchair travel tips

This steep ramp was at a store in Cozumel, Mexico, but at least they tried. lol

 

The more prepared that you are for your trip in advance, the better! It will be less difficult to get around and you’ll kind of know what to expect. There are some websites and apps that can help you make it even easier. For example, you can use Wheelmap.org. This is an online map that you can use to search for wheelchair accessible places. Very handy!

Hopefully these tips can help you plan your next big trip. They are just a few of the many things I’ve learned in my travels, but some of the most important as well.

 

What is the most valuable tip that you have learned traveling as a wheelchair user?

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wheelchair travel tips wheelchair travel tips wheelchair travel tips

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7 Comments

  • Carolyn says:

    Really interesting reading. Thanks for sharing your tips

  • akk says:

    so amazing !

  • I just took my grandma upstate for several doctor’s appointments. She is at the point in her life that she can’t walk without assistance, she usually has a wheelchair but we opted for just the walker this time. It just makes everything go a little slower.

  • Elden Gatley says:

    Thanks for the tip to use ramps. I agree that they make life a lot easier for those in wheelchairs. I think they also help prevent injury.

  • Thanks for those tips. Really good read and i learned a lot. Many tips to carry for my next travel.

  • Hi Cory Lee,

    Thank you for these great wheelchair traveling tips. I especially like your tip about arriving to the airport a couple hours early so that you have plenty of time to get all the proper arrangements made. My dad is a paraplegic and we don’t get to travel with him very often. We have made plans to go to Florida for a few weeks next month and I’m sure that these tips will come in handy. Thank you for taking the time to lay all of these out!

  • Traci Bauer says:

    I was at that shop in Cozumel! They came right out and assisted me and chair into the store. It was steep. Lol

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