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Travel Without A Hitch!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Think travelling with a disability is a no-go? Rhea Dhanbhoora gets a list of tips compiled from travellers on HolidayIQ.com, who disagree there!

Travelling with someone who has a disability, or travelling as someone who has a disability, isn’t easy! However, if you think that your options are limited, you couldn’t be more wrong! Whether you’re travelling with a disability or a temporary physical limitation, all you have to do is ensure that you make arrangements in advance, and keep a few tips in mind. We got a few travelers from user-generated content portal, HolidayIQ.com, to help us out. We’ve compiled a list of their tried-and-tested tips so that you travel without a hitch!

  • Plan in advance: One of the first things that you need to consider while travelling is the time and costs involved. Planning early can help you ensure that everything you need is taken care of.
  • Read experiences and reviews from travellers who have a similar set of needs: When doing research for your trip, read reviews, blogs and experiences of travellers who have similar requirements — whether it’s ramps or wheelchair access. Ideas, advice and experiences shared by other travellers on online travel communities can prove to be extremely helpful while planning your trip. Information on facilities at hotels and tourists spots for the differently-abled can help you to choose the most suitable options.
  • Be clear while making hotel or travel reservations: Most hotels or modes of transport may not be familiar with your condition and the kind of assistance you require. Be specific about your needs and requirements. Also, give as much information as possible about what you can and can’t do. Don’t downplay the severity of the disability. If you don’t provide accurate information, you only have yourself to blame for a cumbersome journey. HolidayIQ traveller, Pammu explains, “During my trip to Jakarta, I had to pay for my wheelchair to be carried as baggage. The automated wheel chair was heavy and the airline refused to take it on board unless I paid for it. Since then, I always make it a point to read up on the airline before I book my tickets and discuss such issues with my travel agent.”
  • Connect with places and people at your  destination beforehand: If you want to visit a specific museum or restaurant, find out how accessibility-friendly they are when planning your trip. Speaking to them before you visit will help to make it a hassle-free experience.
  • Book holidays through agencies that specialise in disabled-friendly packages: Agencies that have experience in handling disabled tourists can help ensure safe and comfortable travel. These agencies will be more efficient at arranging wheelchairs at airports, ramp-accessible hotels and travel insurance.
  • Invest in gear that will make travel more convenient: HolidayIQ traveller, Parvinder Chawla initially used a manual wheelchair, which made her dependent on friends and family while travelling. Now that she has an automated wheelchair, she can travel solo. If you need it, invest in portable oxygen cylinders, motorized scooters or automated wheelchairs. Making small modifications to your wheelchair (such as storing smaller items in a net under the seat or mounting a small carrier to the front of your chair to help carry boxes, equipment and luggage) can also go a long way in making your life easier.
  • Always carry your medical history with you: Carry your medical documents and your doctor’s phone number. Also bring along notes from your doctor that include your complete medical history, medications you are taking and potential complications. If your condition requires regular medical assistance, it’s highly recommended that you either have a medical professional accompany you or get in touch with a local specialist and explain your complete medical history. Also, pack extra medication while travelling.
  • Notify travel authorities about your medical condition and the assistance that you may require: If you require a wheelchair, then make sure that the authorities at the airport or train station are notified in advance so that the necessary arrangements can be made. If possible, ask your travel companion to carry spare parts and a toolkit for emergency repairs. Do not wait for the last moment to book your special travel needs such as oxygen, a foldable wheelchair or a motorized scooter.
  • Arrive early: It’s better to be early and wait than to miss your flight, train or cruise. It will also prevent any pre-travel anxiety you may feel. Indian Railways have special coaches for disabled people. Ensure you get a reservation in these special coaches.
  • Do not let negativity overwhelm you: There is nothing you can’t do if you put your mind to it. Travel redefines you by pushing your boundaries and helping you rediscover yourself. Follow these guidelines so that you can plan better holidays. But, often while travelling, you will surprise yourself with what you can accomplish. Keep an open mind and never lose your wanderer’s spirit!
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