As the holiday season approaches, so does the opportunity to travel. However, traveling with a disability can be more difficult and require additional planning.
Many websites are available to provide advice on traveling with a disability. I have found that some of the tips do not apply to me and I have to weed through them to get to the advice that will actually work best. I have Charcot-Marie-Tooth type 1A and wear ankle-foot orthoses. I do have some mobility issues and require assistance at times. Sometimes, I use a cane for assistance when walking a lot or on uneven surfaces.
One website with helpful tips is Smarter Travel, which suggests the following:
- Call ahead to verify that accommodations will be met.
- Be specific and clear when describing your disability and needs.
- Talk to your doctor about the trip.
- Bring a doctor’s note regarding your condition and special needs, along with their contact information.
- Bring extra medication.
- Find out about the availability of medical care.
- Do your best to avoid connecting flights.
- Allow extra time for check-in and getting through security.
- Check in with a flight attendant before the plane lands to be sure of an exit strategy.
- Arrange transportation to and from the airport.
- Bring spare parts and tools needed to fix any equipment you use.
- Know your rights.
I already do many of these things, and over the past few years, I have learned a few tricks that help me when traveling. I tend to do a lot of traveling by car, where I am the only driver. I have learned to break up long drives, as it is better to stop for the night to rest. This has prevented me from being too exhausted to enjoy the first day or two at our destination.
I also have begun to call ahead to the hotel to request a first-floor room near the entrance or a room near the elevator. That way, I have to walk less after a long day of exploring. I found that most hotels are willing to accommodate this request as long as I call at least a week or two ahead of time.
When I fly, I have learned to request handicapped assistance from the check-in desk to the gate. I do not need assistance to get on and off the airplane, but sometimes it is a very long walk to the gate. Requesting a wheelchair has really helped me navigate the airport and long corridors. It also helps with preventing fatigue. I initially felt uncomfortable and self-conscious using a wheelchair, but the benefits definitely outweigh that feeling. Now, I always call the airline ahead of time to make sure they will have a wheelchair for me. This has saved me a lot of frustration at airports.
I enjoy traveling and plan to do it for as long as I can. I know that over time, I will need more accommodations. But for now, these work for me. What are some things you do to make traveling easier?
Note: Charcot-Marie-Tooth News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Charcot-Marie-Tooth News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Charcot-Marie-Tooth.