Traveling as a group complicates your planning. Whether you’re taking a trip for business or pleasure, coordinating with others can quickly consume time in your travel schedule.
These matters become even more difficult when you’re traveling someone who uses a wheelchair.
If you’re new to traveling as a companion to a wheelchair user, planning ahead is just as important as being able to adjust and pivot your plans on-the-fly to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable travel experience.
Here are a few ways you can anticipate and prepare for challenges before they complicate your trip.
From lodging to sightseeing and dining, be sure to double-check your preparations with getting an accessible room at your hotel.
When you book your flight, be overly communicative about your companion’s needs and be sure to make a follow up call to your hotel, rental car company or sightseeing tour 24-48 hours before your trip to ensure they are expecting your arrival with all your needs met. You’d be surprised how often details fall through the cracks, so a follow up call helps everyone get onto the same page.
If you’re relying on public transportation, then always have a backup plan. We’ve written previously about accessible ride-sharing apps which can be a great way to get around a city and they’re great when you’re in a pinch with public transit.
Communicating Your Companion’s Needs
It’s a good starting point to assume most people have no understanding of the medical terms or the implications of physical impairments.
When you’re at a restaurant, the servers, host or manager helping seat you may not realize you need a clear path to access a table. When visiting new places, be kind and cordially explain the specificity of your companion’s handicap and what accommodations they require to have a pleasant experience.
The best way to communicate your companion’s needs is to understand them. If you’re traveling with someone for a business trip, ask questions, inform yourself so you can be of help but don’t overstep your role as their associate or companion. If you’re traveling with a loved one whom you have more familiarity with, it’s probably OK for you to answer questions regarding their needs.
Set Expectations and Be Patient
Legal rights may be in place to give wheelchair users rights to accessibility on airplanes and in travel, but that doesn’t always mean employees at the airport or your hotel will be friendly and prepared to help.
It’s important to stay mindful when dealing with workers anywhere you go, simply continue to explain your companion’s needs as much as possible to help work toward a solution.
Put Comfort First
One of the best ways to account for your companion’s needs is to do everything you can to create a comfortable experience.
You’ll likely encounter a lot of waiting and transferring during your traveling, so a comfortable, travel-friendly wheelchair can make all the difference in arriving at your destination and arriving at your destination ready for a vacation.
Troy’s Strongback Lightweight Portable Wheelchair is lightweight and folds away easily for traveling. The curved back and seat angle ensure comfort during long days and reinforce good posture to prevent slipping or discomfort.
Traveling with a companion in a wheelchair may change your itinerary, but it shouldn’t stop either of you from having a terrific trip. With the right wheelchair, you’ll ensure a great, fun trip.