See the world on your terms!
Travel—it seems to be the #1 item most people have on their radar for retirement, vacation time, or just general life goals. We can easily be sitting at our computers or desks and suddenly picture ourselves on a white sand beach with a fruity beverage in hand, or surrounded by trees in the forest snuggled up by a campfire. But getting from point A to point B can be the least appealing part of traveling for everyone, especially those with a disability or special needs. Check out these 7 tips for traveling in comfort and style—for every body!
Tip #1: Plan ahead with the help of your health plan
Did you know that you can contact your healthcare provider and speak to a travel nurse before your trip? This can come in especially handy for international travel. The travel nurse can assess your destination, review your health records, and recommend any necessary vaccinations, medications, and preventative tips to keep you healthy and safe on your trip.
Tip #2: Keep yourself entertained
During long stretches of travel, listening to podcasts or audiobooks makes the journey more enjoyable. It’s an opportunity to engage your mind and feel productive—even when the seatbelt lights are on or you’re stuck at the wheel. Just be sure to download or set up your queue ahead of time so you’re well stocked before take-off, and to avoid fumbling and searching for the next best TED Talk while driving.
Tip #3: Just follow your nose
Bringing a mentholated vapor rub in a small container can come in handy to block the strange odors we can sometimes encounter on planes, trains, and shared automobiles. Put a small dab in or just under your nose, and when you need the delightful eucalyptus scent reactivated, just give your sniffer a little pinch. Bonus: You can also use your mentholated rub to soothe bug bites!
Tip #4: Wave good-bye to missed flights
If you or a travel buddy have mobility challenges that make it difficult to race through the airport to catch a flight or get to baggage claim on time, call the airline a few days before your flight. You can request wheelchair service at check-in for your departure, and on the jet bridge for your arrival. You can also request a lift from a courtesy transport (a.k.a. golf cart) to make a connection. No need to add stress to your body and mind when they’re already entering vay-cay mode.
Tip #5: Get those upgrades
If you land in your destination city late at night and need to rent a car, you can often get a larger car for the same price if you ask nicely. The economy cars are usually rented by other customers during the daytime, so the clerk may hook you up with a spacious SUV if you’re clearly tired from your travels but still polite in asking (plus, having sleepy or restless kids with you can help your case).
Tip #6: Get an early bird boarding pass
If you have a disability or special need, you already get prioritized for boarding early, which can be very helpful in getting comfortable without any hassle or stares from other passengers. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to take advantage of this amenity! However, if you don’t have a disability or special need, there are still ways to board early and avoid all those elbows lining the aisle. Go online to get your boarding passes 24 hours and 3 minutes before your flight time, log in, and keep requesting your boarding pass. Once those 3 minutes are up and it’s officially 24 hours pre-flight, your request will be accepted and you’ll likely be placed in Group A or B.
Tip #7: Points, glorious points
You can sign up for frequent flyer accounts, even if you’re not sure you’ll fly with the airline again. If you never use the points, they just expire; if you do fly with the airline again, you’ll have more miles! You can also check if your banking institution offers a rewards or redemption program for travel expenses, like rental cars, visits to tourist attractions, and hotel fees.
These tips are sure to help bring you some peace of mind for your next excursion, and most importantly, let you pursue your wanderlust in the most empowering way possible. It’s a big world, and traveling is how we get to be part of its abundance of varying cultures, climates, and experiences. There’s no reason the journey can’t be just as meaningful as the destination. So, with that said, where would you like to visit next?
Written by Abigail Guerdat, Communications & Grants Associate, Easterseals Bay Area
Tips provided in part by: Dan Middleton, Director of Process Excellence at Easterseals Bay Area; Jennie Mojica, Senior Project Manager at Easterseals Bay Area; and Kat Richter-Stauffer, MSW, Program Supervisor at ESBA’s Burlingame Office