7 tips for traveling when you have a physical disability

words Al Woods

Going on a trip, whether it be international or domestic, can be a stressful experience. You need to ensure you have any necessary travel documents, payment methods, and enough luggage to last the entire trip. For people with disabilities, traveling can entail a little more planning. Here are 7 tips to help simplify traveling if you have a physical disability.

traveling with a physical disability

1) Register Your Service Dog

Whether you have sight limitations or are prone to having seizures, you should register your service dog if you have one. Doing so will allow you to join a greater community of people in similar situations. You’ll be updated on any law changes related to service dogs that can affect your everyday life including your trips away from home. And, with registration, you will receive additional documentation regarding your service dog. You can present these documents in case an emergency occurs during your trip.

2) Try to Stick to Your Home Routine

It can be tempting to try to stay busy during every second of your vacation. This can be taxing on a person with a disability, so try to plan out your days away from home so that they reflect your routine at home. If you have the most energy in the morning, carry out the majority of your activities during this time. If you need a nap to recharge your energy, make sure you take one. Don’t neglect to take any regular medication during your trip. Anything that you require at home, be sure to translate it to your trip.

3) Secure the Proper Travel Insurance

Travel insurance plans tend to be very picky about what they will cover. Some plans only cover financial losses and not medical-related occurrences. If you plan on going abroad, Medicare won’t cover overseas incidents. 

Before you leave for your trip, check the U.S. Department of State’s website for a list of adequate overseas medical insurance providers. 

4) Ensure Your Hotel and Transportation Options Have Reasonable Accommodations

Older cities often have fancy bed and breakfast lodgings, but some of the buildings aren’t updated to include adequate wheelchair accommodations, if you should need them. Before you book your hotel, ensure that it has all of the accommodations that you need.

Similarly, make sure you have a reliable way of getting around once you arrive at your destination. Some public transportation options may be difficult to navigate for those with limited mobility, so be sure to find the methods that work for your situation. For instance, most countries have their own version of Uber or Lyft, so be sure to know them.

5) Alert Your Doctor of Your Travel Plans

Before you embark on your journey, alert your doctor of your travel plans. They can make recommendations on how to make your trip go as smoothly as possible. They can also provide you with extra medication so that you’ll have enough on hand in case your travels back home are delayed for any reason. 

6) Research Physicians Where You’re Going

In case of an emergency, you should know of a reliable physician where you’re traveling to. Perform thorough research to find a doctor who you can visit while away from your usual doctor. Your current doctor, local embassy, insurance company, or healthcare provider can give you the contact information of trustworthy physicians who practice in your destination. 

7) Bring the Proper Equipment with You

Think through every part of your trip and pack accordingly. Some key items you may need include:

  • Spare parts for any emergency repairs on a wheelchair
  • Portable shower seats
  • A portable wheelchair ramp
  • A necklace/bracelet that contains medical alert information

Make the Most of Your Vacation

Your needs as a traveler may vary from someone else with similar circumstances, so don’t be afraid to adapt this list as needed to make the most out of your vacation!


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