Insights from The Orlando Senior Help Desk Traveling with someone in a wheelchair
June 30, 2023
Traveling when you’re caring for someone in a wheelchair requires a more planning ahead.
When booking a hotel, ask if they have accessible rooms available. This may require booking over the phone because sometimes you can’t select for disability online. Confirm with the hotel that their accessible room has the features you need.
Road Trip Tips
If you’re driving very far, rest stops are inevitable. Not all of them are handicap accessible, so preplan your rest stops.
If you have a commode chair that is smaller than the wheelchair, try to find a way to take it with you.
General Travel Tips
Allow lots of extra time. All the transferring and moving of the wheelchair and maneuvering around obstacles will make every stop take much longer.
Don’t forget the comfort of your loved one! Some people may not be comfortable sitting for hours on end, so taking a long road trip may need to be broken into smaller, more manageable days. If your loved one gets really cold very easily, bring extra blankets.
Start a packing list well in advance and add to it as you think of things that you’ll need to remember. Write down everything you use on a daily basis during that time. And don’t forget all the medical stuff.
If incontinence is an issue, remember a drop sheet and an under pad for the bed, or a plastic sheet to protect beds. Pack enough briefs for the trip.
Remember that things can go wrong, so be prepared! Keep a list of your loved one’s medications (including frequency and dosages), any important medical documents, contact information for your home doctor and hospital, You can research the places you’re going ahead of time and mark them on your map to have a general idea of where the hospitals/medical resources are.
Keep a printed road map in your car and know where all your car accessories are and how to use them (jack, owner’s manual, spare tire, etc.). Obviously, everyone should know where these things are, but when you have someone else in your care and the added stress of being in charge of so many things can be overwhelming.
Start with an outing or overnight — if you know that you will be taking a long trip in the future, consider first trying a day trip or overnight near home. This will better prepare you for a longer trip.
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