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The Disabled Traveler’s Guide to Accessible Travel

When traveling with a disability, proper research and preparation are crucial. In the past, traveling as a disabled person seemed like an overwhelming and sometimes impossible task. However, with travel agencies specializing in the special needs of people with disabilities, the inclusivity movement, and the rise of mindful accommodations, travel is more accessible than ever. The terms “disabled travel” and “accessible travel” are relatively new and refer to people who are traveling and have disabilities.

Consult With Your Physician

Before the travel planning begins, it is necessary to get approval from your doctor. Be sure to include an accurate picture of the entire trip, including location, means of travel, climate, potential activities, etc. This is important because it is possible to overlook a factor that can be a risk to your health. For example, traveling to higher altitudes may not seem like a risk factor. However, due to the lower concentration of oxygen, it can be dangerous for someone with a lung condition or compromised breathing. A thorough conversation with your physician ensures greater safety.

In addition to confirming your destination and plans are safe, your doctor can also help plan for medical needs during your trip. They can make sure you have access to any medication you may need, recommend measures for ease of travel, and even provide a medical statement to carry in the event of an emergency.

Know Your Rights

When planning for disabled travel, it is important to know the rights of people with disabilities. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has procedures for travelers with disabilities and medical conditions. Understand these procedures before boarding any public transportation.

Airport assistance is available for disabled individuals. To request assistance, you can call the TSA helpline at 855-787-2227. They can also answer questions about procedures, screening policies, and security checkpoints.

The rights of individuals with disabilities vary in different countries. If you are traveling out of the country, it is advised that you speak with a travel specialist familiar with the rights in your desired destination.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can also provide information about laws for people traveling with disabilities. Unfortunately, many employees of airlines, theme parks, cruises, and other travel destinations don’t know the disability laws, so check for information ahead of time.

Plan Ahead

Planning ahead is essential for a traveler with disabilities. The easiest way is to hire a travel agency specializing in accessible travel. These agencies check for specific accommodations for travelers with special needs.

If you are planning your own travel, begin early. First, research and create an itinerary for your trip. Websites can offer information about accessibility and services offered. Even with the ease of websites, make calls to schedule the necessary accommodations. This includes hotels, rental properties, transportation services, rental cars, excursions, and activities. Clear communication is essential. Be detailed when describing your disability so everyone understands your needs.

Be Mindful

Travel provides a great opportunity for adventure and spontaneity. But this doesn’t mean you should disregard your daily needs or routines. For example, if your disability causes you to tire in the afternoon, schedule activities in the earlier part of the day. Or, if you usually take a nap after lunch, then schedule a daily nap into your plans.

Traveling is exciting, and it can be easy to push our limits or overdo it. Therefore, it is important to be mindful of your needs and normal routine to avoid excess stress on the body or potential worsening of medical conditions.

Prepare for the Worst Case

Even with proper precautions and planning, travel does not always go as planned. So while we hope for the best, it is vital to prepare for an unexpected event.

Some of the most common travel woes are flight cancelations, delays, and lost luggage. If you are traveling by plane, make sure you have extra medication and any necessary supplies in your carry-on. If you are separated from your luggage or become stuck at the airport, you want to ensure your health needs are met.

Should you become ill during your travel, you want to be aware of resources in the area. Research the available physicians in your travel area. That way, you are prepared and know where to seek care if necessary.  In addition to familiarizing yourself with the healthcare resources available, it is smart to keep your medical alert information and primary physician’s contact on you during travel. When traveling with a disability, you want to take extra precautions regarding health and safety.

Safe Travels!

We are so fortunate to live in a time when travel is accessible for most people. Even with a disability, taking the proper precautions and appropriately planning can open up a world of possibilities. If you find a property or service that does not accommodate people with disabilities, be sure to contact a special needs or elder law attorney regarding your rights. No matter where your destination may be, travel well and enjoy every moment!

We hope you found this article helpful. Contact our office at 1 (800) 680-1717 and schedule a consultation to discuss your legal matters. We look forward to the opportunity to work with you.

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