Disabled Seniors Can Still Travel

By: Jody Smith

Many seniors can find themselves facing new challenges as they get older. Just getting up and going isn't as simple as it used to be.

"Spontaneous" may not apply like it did back in the day of strong young bodies and minds. Now, planning ahead and taking time to be prepared will get you farther faster.

If you have restrictions and limitations mentally or physically don't assume that this means your days of traveling are behind you. Remember -- plan ahead, and take time to be prepared.

Got some place in mind? Start researching the different ways you can get there, where you would stay, and how you would get around.

Set your sights on learning about travel assistance options each leg of the way.

Some travel agents are quite knowledgeable about working with the disabled. You can contact airport management and ask questions.

Check out local organizations that deal with the disabled. Help yourself to all the travel books you can find, and search the Internet.

Look into regulations of the airlines or hotels you are considering.

Be realistic about what you can and can't handle. It doesn't matter what you used to be able to deal with.

It's the here and now you need to plan for. Being honest with yourself can mean the difference between having a satisfying trip and having a miserable time.

Don't choose a flight that involves one or more transfers if you know you don't have the energy or mobility to make this work well.

Will you need assistance traveling by plane, train, or bus? What kind of assistance will you need? Wheelchair, or walker? Do you need special meals? Making arrangements ahead of time will save schedule snarls and stress.

The Air Carrier Access Act in the United States does not allow discrimination against the disabled. This means seating on the airplane and features in the terminal and on the plane must be accessible for disabled people. Storage must be available for equipment like wheelchairs, as well as medical necessities.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, hotels offering a free airport shuttle must also offer a
wheelchair accessible shuttle without a fee.

Accessible hotels and cruise ships, and storing of medical supplies should not bring extra cost. That is illegal.

Don't hesitate to make phone calls or send emails asking about specifics, when doing your research. For instance if you need wheelchair accessibility, you'll need to ask whether this is available. Do it beforehand, not while you're in your wheelchair sitting outside their front lobby.

Remember the travel mantra for success -- plan ahead, and take time to be prepared.

Jody Smith is a freelance writer for EmpowHER.com.

Sources:

Travel Tips for People with Disabilities

http://seniorliving.about.com/od/travelsmart/a/disabilities.htm

Accessible Travel: Expert Advice for People with Disabilities

http://seniorliving.about.com/od/accessibletravel/a/accessible_trav_2.htm

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