Tips for a Traveler with a Disability

  • By: Joni and Friends
  • Aug. 7, 2013

airport terminalSummer is one of the busiest seasons for travel! It can be challenging navigating airports and train stations, especially when a disability is involved. Careful planning can help reduce stress for any traveler, so here are some simple tips for planning a trip and traveling with a disability:

1. Call ahead of time. In most cases, airlines and other service providers are mandated by law to accommodate travelers with disabilities. By calling ahead of time, you can confirm that your accommodation needs will be met as well as offer the service provider advanced notice so that they can make preparations to welcome you.

Research your destination. Check out your destination and housing arrangements before you begin your travels. Look for information about wheelchair accessibility, city transportation, hotel disability accommodations, and the accessibility of the sites that you plan to visit. Also, be sure to check with your doctor ahead of time for local health and medical resources around your destination. If you happen to need a doctor during your travels, you’ll be glad that you did the research ahead of time!

Understand your rights. Familiarize yourself with your rights. Every traveler deserves to be treated with dignity, respect and courtesy. Remember that your rights are legislated for your benefit.

Be courteous. The security guards and TSA employees have a tough and busy job. Seek to brighten their day during your interaction with them.

Don’t hesitate to ask for assistance. Ask the security guard or TSA employee if you need help carrying equipment or navigating through a security checkpoint.

Arrive early. This is especially important when your travels involve a flight. To account for security checkpoints and travel time within the airport, it is recommended that you arrive at a minimum of two hours before your flight’s departure time.

When traveling with a child who has a disability, inform your child ahead of time about the travel plans. For instance, if you are planning a trip to the beach, pictures of the beach or other sites you plan to visit can be helpful. "Map" out the week so that the child knows that "Day 1 is beach day”, “Day 2 is Sea World", “Day 5 we come home,” etc.

Do you have more tips to help ease travel with a disability? Please share them with us!


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Really helpful tips that I can actually use in my everyday life. I love reading something and knowing that I can actually apply it to my life. Thanks
  • Oct. 3, 2013
  • 11:24 a.m.
  • Chuck
If you make a hotel reservation for an ADA/accessible room, be sure to call before arriving and confirm the hotel has reserved such a room for you. It can be very inconvenient to arrive and find the hotel does not have a room available to meet your accessibility needs.
  • Aug. 20, 2013
  • 4:28 p.m.
  • Jo Ann
Thank you my husband had Vascular Dementia and although is a very happy person some times he is just not coherent and this is invaluable.
  • Aug. 8, 2013
  • 3:30 p.m.
  • susie Puffer
Great post and this is the uncommon type post. You don't get much helpful holiday related information for people with disabilities. Great.
  • Sept. 17, 2012
  • 7:47 a.m.
  • sanju
8. If you use a wheelchair and need to use an aisle chair to board a plane, ask for the aisle chair when you arrive at the gate. Tell the people assisting you exactly how to help, and that if you have no stomach muscles, tell them you have no balance. Don't forget to ask for the baggage tag to attach to your wheelchair. Southwest Airlines uses planes that a manual wheelchair can roll up next to the first seat on the right side of the plane.
  • Aug. 3, 2012
  • 3:25 p.m.
  • Art Larson
Great suggestion, Art!
  • Aug. 3, 2012
  • 3:25 p.m.
  • Joni and Friends