Traveling with disabilities can seem like an overwhelming task. However, it doesn’t have to be, if the right research, planning, and preparations are done ahead of time. There are even travel agencies that specialize in disabled travel. The most important thing is to be prepared. Here are some tips to consider in advance of traveling if you or a loved one has physical limitations:

1. Consult with a Physician

If you have disabilities and are planning to travel, one of the first steps is to discuss the travel plans with your physician. Be sure to give the doctor an accurate picture of what the trip will entail. In many cases, the physician can help plan for medical needs while traveling. The doctor can prescribe certain measures to help make travel easier. The doctor can also provide you with a medical statement for emergency situations. Keep your doctor’s name and phone number available while traveling. You should also identify what medical care is available at the travel destination. Be sure to carry extra medication in case of unforeseen delays. Keep all medication in carry-on bags to prevent loss.

2. Know Your Rights regarding Traveling with Disabilities

When planning for accessible travel, it is important to know your rights. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has certain procedures for travelers with disabilities and medical conditions. It is important to understand these procedures before going through airport security. The Air Carrier Access Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) also provide information regarding the laws for those traveling with disabilities. Unfortunately, many airline, cruise, and theme park employees don’t know the law regarding those with disabilities. It’s always best to obtain the information ahead of time.

3. Plan Ahead

Planning ahead is the most important tip and encompasses all the other tips. One easy way to plan ahead is to hire a travel agency that specializes in accessible travel. These agencies can plan for the specific needs of the traveler with disabilities. If you wish to plan your own travel, then begin to plan early. First, research and create an itinerary for your trip. Websites can help you obtain information about accessibility and services offered. Even with websites, you should call to schedule any necessary accommodations that you need, so that each stop on the itinerary enjoyable. Remember to be detailed when describing your disability, so that everyone understands the limitations accurately.

Planning ahead for flights can also be very helpful for people with disabilities. If possible, avoid connecting flights: Fly direct to the destination. You should also check in with the flight attendant before landing to make an exit plan. Once you’ve disembarked, if a wheelchair is necessary, make sure you have set up accessible ground transportation to and from the airport. All of this can be done ahead of time to help ensure more relaxing travel for everyone involved in the adventure.

The experience of travel can be smooth and enjoyable with the right information and planning. Of course, even the best plans can experience turbulence along the way, but planning and documenting in advance can help minimize any bumps along the way. Just remember, after calling and booking for the special needs, call again and touch base 24-48 hours in advance of your trip to ensure all appropriate accommodations are in order.

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