5 Easy Tips in Travelling with a Disability
Travelling used to be fun for me and I always looked forward to them, but sadly at a point I didn’t look forward to travelling anymore. Things have changed for me again and same with my acquaintance, Dami who I met at the airport getting a domestic flight with ease after a long intercontinental flight. She admits that anytime she’s about to travel she gets seriously anxious. Dami has Avascular Necrosis of both hips as well as AVN on her right shoulder. Dami cannot lift herself up at some points, she can’t stand for even a few minutes even with crutches.
Dami is a successful young lady and had just bagged an MBA from a top American University and she travels a lot. How does she handle it to have travelled to UK & Ireland as well as Paris and even travelled round Nigeria? I’ll show You her way of making things happen without much stress.
The next statement is very important: it is not easy travelling as a person with disability or injury, but you can minimise the difficulty and snags with these few tips:
1. Mind set: It is really worth getting out there even though we don’t see places normally as a person without disability does. But hey, we all create our different exciting experiences. Don’t miss out on something that could be great just because it can be a bit difficult. So pump it up and make up your mind on taking that trip. You can talk with another person with a similar challenge whom you know to have engaged in travels and understands travelling with a positive outlook.
2. Plan Your Destination and Routes: I remember being surprised with Dami telling me got to the top of a hill in Scotland; she has also been to the second summit of the Eiffel Tower. Truly, a lot of countries and destinations are making things easier and for people with disabilities, and there are great improvements to making places barrier-free.
However, there is still great difficulty in navigating through less developed regions of the World. For example, I met Dami at a Nigerian airport in Lagos catching a flight to Akwa Ibom for a tourist visit, and from there she would be going hiking at the popular Obudu Resort in Cross River State.
How do you explore a less infrastructurally developed region like Nigeria, Africa with a disability?
Don’t presume a place is inaccessible, rather consult a travel site just like Dami always does. These online guides can help arrange breath-taking experiences of excursions, safari and game reserves tours. Few online travel sites come highly recommended and trusted ensuring that no place is off limits and that there are more hotels, resorts, institutions with more accessibility than ever before.
Make sure they understand even the basic needs or difficulties faced by those with disability which are commonly- lack of ramps in public buildings, elevators not working or a total absence, narrow bathroom doors, low or too high toilet seats and so on.
I also strongly suggest that you ask for special accommodations and ask to see facilities that are in place. You should also travel with a companion, but in any case you can’t, tell your travel agent and sufficient provisions would be made to assist you or even provide you with a travelling companion you would like.
3. See Your Doctor: Yes , for those extra medications you may need. Make sure to carry extra medication as it would be difficult getting medication from a medical personnel who is not familiar with your needs. Also, be specific with your travel plans with your doctor as she would be able to prescribe how to deal with long flights and trips as well as tell you how to cope when you’re in a place with medical services not up to the standard of where you’re coming from. Your doctor should draft in a piece of paper the nature of your injury/disability, and your should always carry this around with you at all times. Include to this emergency information of medications, allergies and phone numbers to call in the case of an emergency.
4. Visa & Registration: if you’re travelling to a distant and unusual region, apart from acquiring your Visa, inform the local authorities of any need you may require. You must also inform your Embassy that you’re there.
5. Take Lots of Pictures : This is my own way of telling you to enjoy yourself. Do the things you want to do. No limits. Have great fun and while doing so capture those moments on camera so you can always relive those memories.
There you have it. Have a nice and wonderful trip with lots of beautiful stories to tell.
Thank you! This was a great read. I’ve been travelling with arthritis for the last decade and it’s amazing the number of “inaccessible” places I’ve seen. I agree that sadly the “one size fits all” approach means that disabled travellers can have a frustrating time with guidebooks and some other sources. On the medication front as well, it’s also worth checking out if there are any unexpected restrictions on your medications, such as in Japan and Greece for some common ones.
I’ve got a blog, WanderingWounded.com about disabled travel here that might be of interest.