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Tips for Travelling with a Disability

June 24, 2015

The summer is here and with it, often comes travel, so people with disabilities may be looking for specialized travel tips. These tips can make trips easier and make a disability easier to deal with while away from home and help with the fact that not all countries have the same support for people with a disability as Canada does. Check out these tips for travelling with a disability.

Planning to Travel with a DisabilityWheelchair

Planning a trip may be half of the work (or half of the fun!), but when you’re planning to travel with a disability, a bit of extra planning is needed:

  • Make sure the airline is aware of your needs when you book. This includes making arrangements with them to transport mobility aids such as a battery-operated wheelchair.
  • Make sure you know your airline’s policy on travelling with service animals. In general, service animals may remain with you in the aircraft cabin as long as they have been trained by a professional service animal institution.
  • Make sure your doctor knows about your travel plans so he or she can make any treatment accommodations or even possibly question whether the trip is right for you.
  • Check with your doctor to see if it’s okay for you to go through a metal detector or be hand-wanded when you go through security at the airport. You can request a physical search, in a private area if you choose, if those are not possible.
  • Check with your accommodations to see what services they provide for those with your type of disability. Remember, it can take them time to prepare for your needs so make sure you call at least a few days in advance.
  • Check on physician availability at your destination. Your insurance company or local embassy may be able to help with this.
  • Consider using a travel agent who specializes in travelling with a disability.

Travelling with a Disability While at the Airport

Once you get to the airport, here are a few disabled travelling tips to consider:

  • Use the Family/Special Needs security line. Screening officers at these lines are trained to offer additional assistance.
  • Make sure to pack all your medication in your carry-on luggage and carry extra medication in case of emergency.
  • Bring documentation that supports your medical condition (this could include a letter from your doctor on letterhead).
  • According to the Canadian Transportation Agency: “Screening officers will visually inspect your wheelchair or scooter and could perform explosive trace detection samples of the cushion. These inspections can be conducted while you remain seated if you are unable to get out of your wheelchair or scooter.”
  • Make use of priority boarding when getting on a flight.
  • Allow plenty of time to board a flight or make a connecting flight.
  • Know your rights as a disabled traveller. For American flights, see this information, for Canadian travels, see here.w-main2.web_

While all of this may seem like extra work, in reality, these tips for travelling with a disability can be just what you need to avoid the possible pitfalls of travel and get the most out of your vacation.

See more detailed tips on disabled travelling here.



“This article was written by award-winning mental health writer and speaker, Natasha Tracy.”

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