Traveling can be a stressful experience, even when everything is going as well as can be expected.  However, relying on others to provide an accessible and friendly environment can be especially frustrating.  It may be difficult to find hotels that offer truly accessible rooms or parks and recreations that really accommodate a wheelchair user.  Even ambulatory guests may need places to stop and rest or they may need a clean, private place to do an intermittent catheterization.  Here are some tips and links to help you plan your trip- whether it is international travel or just a trip to Grandma’s. And please contact us if you have any travel experiences you would like to share with the community.

Anecdotal Tips

In the event of an emergency, it is important to be prepared.  FEMA and the American Red Cross have provided this downloadable booklet to help people with special needs.  You can read through it and follow the steps to ensure that you will not be caught without sufficient medical supplies in a time of displacement.

If possible, get your doctor to prescribe an extra catheter per day.  This way you can have a few to keep in the car or your bag when you travel.  You also won’t run out if there is a delay in shipping your monthly order.

If you have a programmable shunt and have to go through airport security, get a note from the Dr. asking them to wand you down instead of passing through the metal detectors.  This way they can try to keep the magnets away from your head.  (It is very unlikely your shunt will be reprogrammed, but better to be safe than sorry)

Although you may reuse catheters at home, try to purchase some for your trip that are for one time use only.  Kits are available that come with catheters, gloves, and lubricant all packaged together.

At a theme park or similar attraction, try to park nearest the tram to decrease walking distance.

If you have to cath a child and a medical station is not available, you can use the trunk of the car or the floor of the van to lay the child down.  It should be cleaner and more private than a public rest room.

Carrying papers, wallets, and passports in your pants pocket does not allow them to be easily accessible if you are a wheelchair user.  Putting important papers in a bag attached to your chair can also be unsafe, thanks to pick pockets.  A great alternative is to wear a shirt with large front pockets (like this one ) that you can fit documents into.  They are easy to access and they keep things close to your body.

Travel Links for Guests With Disabilities

Students who want to travel abroad can collaborate with the University of Minnesota and Access Abroad to plan for a successful international experience.

Access-Able Travel Source
has a list of links to resources for accessible travel.

The Good Access Guide is an excellent directory of services for disabled people in the United Kingdom.

Moss Rehab Resource Net’s
website features information for the disabled traveler.

Disabled is packed with travel links.

The Opening Door promotes independence through travel.

Although I cringe at the name, Gimp on the Go is a good resource of tips that have been compiled by a man who loves to travel and happens to be a quadriplegic.

Easter Seals has a searchable data base of transportation services for travelers with disabilities.

Disabled World
features travel articles written by users who want to share their experiences with others.

One Response to “Travel”

  1. Jen Pilling says:

    Hi there from sunny Australia. I am from the Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association of SA and NT. This means that we service South Australia and Northern Territory in Australia. Just wondering if I am able to reproduce this information on travel into our newsletter to members as it would be very beneficial to them. Thanks Jen

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