Short-term trips can already be challenging enough for people living with disabilities—what more if the trip spans two weeks or even longer?
A disability should not be a hindrance to traveling, regardless of how long the trip is. However, there are several things that people with disabilities (and their caregivers, if there are any) should be mindful of when taking a long trip. This includes special accommodation, potential airport issues, accessibility problems at tourist destinations, and more.
That said, here are some of the best ways people with disabilities can better prepare for a long-term trip:
Research local respite care services
Whether you are traveling with a caregiver or not, you may need respite care services at some point in your trip. Traveling, especially during an extended amount of time, can take a toll on your physical and emotional health. Thus, having someone to provide care, at least for a little while, can make it easier to keep going.
Before your departure, research local respite care services located at your destination. If you are traveling alone, having the contact information of a local service can make it easier to get immediate care. On the other hand, if you are traveling with a companion, respite care can give them a chance to rest from their responsibilities and go out on their own.
Contact all airports in advance
If you have to go through multiple airports during your trip, it is always a good idea to contact the airport in advance every time. This way, they can prepare any special accommodations that you need, such as a rental wheelchair or guided assistance if necessary.
You will also be likely carrying a lot of baggage since you are going for a long-haul trip. Many airports offer baggage assistance services to people with disabilities, so be sure to let the airport know that you will need these services when you get there.
Look up the accessibility of tourist destinations
When planning your itinerary, don’t forget to look up the accessibility of each stop that you plan to visit. The last thing you want is to arrive at a destination only to find out that they don’t have wheelchair ramps. More than that, find out if the hotels, restaurants, spas, and other establishments in your itinerary can communicate with you (if you are hard of hearing) to make your trip as hassle-free as possible.
Choose your hotel carefully
It is already a given that you should choose a hotel that can accommodate your accessibility needs. However, keep in mind that not all hotels that advertise themselves as “accessible” are true to their word. Most do have accommodations due to legal obligations, but they may not be good enough to serve your needs adequately. And if you are looking for a long-term stay, you wouldn’t want to book with a hotel that does not meet your needs sufficiently.
One of the best ways to find a good, disability-friendly hotel is to look up reviews online from people with similar disabilities as yours. They are the best sources of information to determine if a particular hotel is truly accessible or not. Other than that, you can contact the hotel directly and ask about their disability accommodations, but be wary that not all hotels provide accurate information.
Take it easy
Long-term travel can already be exhausting in and of itself, but even more so if you have a disability. With that in mind, avoid planning too many activities in your itinerary, and, more importantly, make enough time for rest. You are traveling for a long while, after all, so you have plenty of time to accomplish everything on your itinerary without overbooking yourself.
If you are traveling with companions, it is also important to let them know about your limitations. They should know that you may have to sit out some activities, and you must ensure that they don’t feel guilty about doing so.
Visit your doctor
Before leaving for your trip, pay a visit to your primary care provider. Let them know about your travel plans so that they can provide you with advice on how to take care of your health during the trip. If you need medication, this is also the right time to ask for extended prescriptions or bigger refills.
Long-term travel can be challenging if you live with a disability, but it is certainly not impossible. With these preparation tips, you can not only make traveling easier—but you can also make the most out of your trip despite your limitations.