Q. I miss not being able to travel due to my limitations. Is it possible for me to still take trips?
Yes, travel is accessible for many people with physical limitations. The idea of planning and taking a trip may be daunting and stressful for some. However, once broken down into specific categories and questions, the task is not only manageable, but also produces fruitful and satisfying results.
For starters, plan your trip carefully and in advance. Check your medical insurance policy to be certain that you are adequately covered. Be aware of services provided (or not provided) in other countries.
Ask specific questions of the hotels where you are staying. For example, what does “accessible room” actually mean? Is there a walk-in shower? Grab bars? What is the proximity of the room to elevators? If you are driving, is the parking close to your room?
Cruises are a great choice. Ocean liners offer scooters for rent during cruises. If you will be using one, determine in advance whether any ports of call require a license for a motorized wheelchair.
If you will be flying, there are several arrangements you can make in advance. If necessary, request wheelchair or electric cart service within terminals (your bags will be handled too!) Check in early. Utilize early boarding privileges, and, if necessary, special accommodations to get to your seat.
Request an aisle seat as close as possible to the bathroom. Airline carriers must provide meet-and-assist service (e.g. assistance to gate or aircraft) at drop-off points.
The limit of one carry-on bag and one personal bag (purse) per traveler does not apply to medical supplies and/or assistive devices. Assistive devices such as canes and wheelchairs are permitted on board.
People who require a wheelchair or scooter must have physician’s written “certificate of need.” People in wheelchairs can request private, rather than public, checkpoint screenings.
Carry all medication in original bottles with the name of the drug and your doctor’s name on the label. Bring a copy of your prescriptions (generic and non-generic names) and medication regimen, including your physician’s name and contact information.
Carry all your medication, for your entire trip, in your carry-on bag; include snacks, water or juice to take with meds.
If you are changing time zones, continue to take your medications as prescribed, with the same intervals between doses. Consider wearing two watches: one set to your current time and one set to the time at your home.
In general, see fewer sites and enjoy them more. Give yourself extra time for everything. Don’t let your limitations hold you back from the trip of your dreams. Bon Voyage!
NANCY TURNEY received a bachelor's degree in social work and a certificate in gerontology. If you have a specific question you would like answered in this column, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org or call Turney at the Crescenta-Cañada YMCA, (818) 790-0123, ext. 225.