Thanks to a very helpful ex-boyfriend, I had the very lucky chance to travel like crazy in my 20’s. Road trips to New Orleans, Seattle, Toronto (with a pit stop at Niagra Falls), NYC/D.C. and Gettysburg, I saw the glory of the US from my van’s passenger window; all the open plains, wacky pit-stops in-between civilization, and it was awesome. And I learned a ton of valuable wheelchair travel tips along the way.
I learned to always make two packing lists (“regular” stuff and “medical” stuff) whenever I traveled, always saving the hard copy on my computer so I could use it for my next trip. And I learned to make sure my wheelchair and shower chair were in working order before hurrying up and taking off (because medical equipment will always break down when you’re on vacation don‘t ya know).
Also, being a creature of habit who likes her “things” no matter where she is (Crystal Light water flavoring, warm water, heated neck warmer at night, eye mask and ear plugs), I made sure to pack all of these in our luggage and van too, easily accessible even at 75 mph. I hate traveling in discomfort, and there’s no excuse to have to nowadays.
When I flew in a plane the first time as a wheelchair-user (5 years after my accident), I was deathly nervous. I didn’t want it to be a hassle, or rather “be” the hassle. I was hoping, praying it’d be quick and seamless. And once I showed up at the terminal, I saw just how easy the whole process would be. Was I Relieved? Very.
It’s really too bad this video wasn’t available, showing how to board a plane from a wheelchair back in my early days of being injured. This video shows the process of getting a wheelchair-user on and off a commercial jet, and it shows just how easy and streamlined the process has become. Weird note: The video was filmed in the U.K., so you watch the man in the video board the plane last (which would never happen in the U.S.; too crowded for transfers)
And you must watch this other travel video made by Mark, of a seasoned traveler and paraplegic from Minnesota, who made a 6 minute video showing the entire air travel process, from checking in, going through security, and finding your rental car once you’ve landed. He also shares an amazing car rental tip that every wheeler out there needs to know if they want to save money (and get a free car upgrade!) the next time they travel.
Watch the videos:
What wheelchair travel tips do you have?