Traveling with a Disability
Medically Edited and Reviewed by Dr. Erin Zinkhan MD, BSBE
After a long winter, millions of people with physical disabilities or long-term illnesses are eager to travel. With just a little planning, it can be a breeze to bring along your medical treatment, such as a device for oxygen therapy, medication with special requirements such as temperature control, or a mobility aid. Planning also can make your trip much more enjoyable because you can have the same wellness and mobility that you have at home.
First Things First: Know Before You Go
Beyond financially planning for contingencies like a minor mishap or gotta-have-it impulse purchases, ask your hotel the right questions ahead of time:
- Will my room be wheelchair accessible?
- Is there a working elevator?
- Does the pool area have a lift?
- How wide are halls and door entries? Will a wheelchair or mobility scooter fit?
- Is there a working ice machine to keep medicine cool? Are rooms available with mini-fridges for sensitive medication?
- Ask your pharmacist what medicine alternatives are available if heading overseas -- just in case. Also, budget in the costs in case insurance won't cover expenses abroad.
Make a checklist of pertinent questions and avoid the siren song of discount rooms online -- do your homework and call before booking!
Let's Get Packing
Lay out your medicines and make a daily dosing list to stay on top of them -- especially if traveling through multiple time zones in one day. Do you use medication such as insulin that requires multiple accessories (needles, syringes, etc.)? The right kind of pouch, such as Medicool's Dia-Pak Deluxe Diabetic Travel Bag, has thoughtful features to help you organize up to two weeks' worth of supplies. Don't forget to pack items, such as the LifeScan Logbook Diabetic, that help you maintain a proper regimen despite the rigors of travel.
Hit the Road, Jack
The oil's been changed, wiper blades have been checked and the fossilized French fries have been vacuumed out -- the car's ready to roll, right? Maybe, but a few economical items will make the most of every road trip. Stander's Automobility Solution, for instance, features a clever swivel seat that enables occupants to twist and pivot in/out of a car. The kit also includes a handle that mounts tool-free to a vehicle's door latch for additional stability during vehicle ingress/egress.
Between convenience store pizza and 64-ounce fountain drinks, sickness and gotta-go moments can strike anyone -- at any time. Keep your vehicle's interior pleasant and sanitary with conveniences such as a Car Sick Kit with a special bag that locks in odors or NuHope's Travel Urine Collector that aids people with ostomies and catheters when rest stops are few and far between.
Major U.S. airlines are very sensitive to passengers traveling with a Portable Oxygen Concentrator. However, there are a few guidelines they, and we, like to remind passengers of:
- ·Battery life – patients using an oxygen concentrator must have an oxygen concentrator battery life that is equal to 1.5 times (or 150%) of the scheduled flight time. This ensures that portable oxygen concentrators have power for unexpected delays or diversions.
- Ask, ask, ask – before booking, call your airline carrier's customer service division to ask about special protocols they may have for on-board oxygen concentrator use.
If traveling internationally, Vitality Medical advises you to check with us or your machine's manufacturer about overseas usage because travelling overseas may void the factory warranty. Select machines may not be compatible with European or Asian power outlets and may require an additional adapter or for you to form an alternative plan if overseas use of your oxygen concentrator is impossible.
If taking your oxygen concentrator on the road or overseas isn't a possibility, Vitality Medical has a rental program that supports your wanderlust. Several different brands are available for rent and dedicated Oxygen Concentrator Specialists will provide support and oversee shipping logistics.
All Roads Lead to...
Several clever mobility accessories support all travelers, provide stability and discreetly tuck away once you reach your destination.
Visiting a relative without a ramp? No sweat! A travel-ready wheelchair/scooter ramp from Drive Medical will put everyone at ease, protect your host's home, and let you focus on visiting. Several innovative walking aids out there help you make the most of tours, museums and gallery strolls. These include Medline's Folding Aluminum T-Handle Cane, a cane that folds into a compact, ready-to-store unit when you reach your destination. Another handy item is Mountain Properties' Elite Walking Cane that features a fold-out seat with three legs for stability, making sure you always have a place to rest.
Spring's arrival means you'll likely be off to see dads and grads, so make sure you're ready. A little planning ahead of time means a physical disability or illness won't stop you from enjoying our big, beautiful world!
To a life full of Vitality!