Traveling with Ease
Traveling can be an exciting endeavor for most, however it can be a burden for those unprepared to take on the long flights, bus rides, and laborious walks down the uneven sidewalks to the best restaurant in town. Traveling can make for an intimidating adventure if not planned suitably. If you are looking to travel this season, read below to learn some helpful tips and tricks that can help you master the art of traveling.
Planning Ahead for your Travels
It is important to make sure you know the outline of your trip beforehand if you plan on traveling for long periods of time in multiple places with lots of activities. Researching your destination is a good place to start for planning your trip so you can know the composition of your destination. If your travels will include lots of time spent outside on rugged terrain, navigating cobblestone streets or sidewalks, or even walking several miles at a time, there are different apps available to travelers that can help enhance your ability to travel with ease around different cities - apps such as Citymapper, Trainline, Cruise Critic, etc.
As an amputee, it is highly recommended that you pay a visit to your prosthetist before you take off on your adventures. Your prosthetist will be able to clean your prosthesis/prostheses in advance, correct any alignment issues, check for any damage to the device(s), and ensure that everything is comfortable and in top working order before you embark. One last thing before you leave; be sure to rehearse walking on your device(s) because you may find that something is wrong or that you need to practice and prepare for some of the upcoming terrain you will encounter. Either way, it is always good to practice!
Using TSA PreCheck to Ease your Trip Stress
Air travel is perhaps the highest hurdle when it comes to traveling long distance. Flying is a common way to travel, so that means long lines are likely to slow you down and you may need to endure long hours in reaching your final destination. TSA PreCheck can be a useful tool that helps get you through those long security lines quickly. Applying to TSA PreCheck can take a while, so it would be best to start that process well in advance before you travel by plane. It can also make getting through the security lines easier, as it can be difficult to take a shoe off of your prosthesis.
Getting through security can remain a hassle, especially when the TSA agents need to take a closer look at your prosthetic devices. If TSA PreCheck is not an option for you, wear loose clothing for TSA checkpoints. Wear shorts, or sweatpants that can roll up easily as this enables security staff to see your prosthesis more readily. Arriving at the airport at least 2-3 hours prior to your flight will give you enough time to get through security lines, in case litmus testing or prosthetic scanning is needed.
Traveling with Assistive Devices
If you need to take your wheelchair on the plane, use it to get through the airport, to the airport gate and to get down the jetway to the door of the plane. The flight attendants can help you to your seat and get the wheelchair stowed away for you. There is the option to send your wheelchair or walker through checked baggage if you prefer, though it is advised to call the airline in advance to be sure they can do that for you. If you use a walker and want to take it with you, if your suitcase is large enough a walker can be tied securely to the suitcase by rope or bungee cord. This way, you can carry your luggage and your walker together as you navigate through the airport.
Boarding the Aircraft with Ease
When it is time to board the plane for your trip, the flight attendants will announce for those that need more assistance or time boarding the aircraft. It is then that you may seek additional help in boarding to allow yourself more time settling into your seat and getting your carry-ons where they belong.
When to Request Bulkhead Seating
How can bulkhead seating be helpful? Bulkhead seating are the seats at the front of a plane section, and they face a wall as opposed to other seats. Bulkhead seating provides more space to get in and out, and they are usually reserved for travelers with disabilities. If there are no bulkhead seats available, reserve an aisle seat that is close to the front of the plane but is not in an emergency exit row. When you are about to board the plane, you can also ask a flight attendant for help securing bulkhead seating. However, it is best to call the airline in advance and book these seats ahead of the flight to secure them. If bulkhead seating is not available, call the airline directly as early as possible to see if they can give you (& your companion) a free upgrade from the main cabin to comfort (not applicable to getting seats in first class).
Securing Comfortable Hotel and Lodging
Securing comfortable lodging is just as important as getting to your destination so you can thoroughly enjoy your travels. Hotels and handicap accessible options for lodging allow for more space to easily maneuver around and they are available at most locations, but arrangements should be made ahead of time to help book your room. It is recommended to call the hotel directly rather than securing an online reservation for handicapped accessible rooms to confirm you are booking what you need. Most hotel chains have at least one handicap accessible rooms available. Also check for a roll-in shower in case you need to use your wheelchair or walker. Talking to other adaptive needs travelers who have been to the places you want to visit can be a helpful way to learn from their mistakes, and garner their travel tips and tricks. In addition, apps like iAccessLife crowdsource travelers who explain how to navigate everything from public toilets, to parks and transit systems, which can provide access to quicker answers.
Preparing for Excursions, Activities and Walking Tours
There are different levels of difficulty on trip excursions and tours, so make sure to research in advance so you are sure the excursion you sign up for is an activity that is within your ability. In foreign countries, ADA accommodations are not the norm, so be aware. Many overseas streets, sidewalks and pathways can be uneven, hilly, or difficult to navigate, so preparing in advance for what you will encounter is highly encouraged. If you are traveling on a cruise ship, their planned excursions through the cruise line must wait for your group to get back on board (if the group is running behind). Though ships with private excursions will not wait for you if your group is running late.
When in doubt of what to do, call the airline, hotel, or cruise line directly for bookings, answers & clarification.