If youíre a traveler with special needs, whether it is hearing, vision, mobility, or something else, here are some tips to make your travels easier. If you would like to travel more but are afraid to because you require some assistance, these suggestions may help you decide whether you want to get out and have an adventure. Most types of transportation services these days have a Disability Team that handles the special needs of their passengers.
If youíre flying and need assistance in any way notify the airlines ahead of time and when you reserve your ticket ask them to make a notation on your boarding pass. If you will need any special seating arrangements also make this known to the agent when you make your reservations. Let the airline know in advance how mobile you are, can you walk or stand at all, or will you need to be carried or lifted. If youíll need assistance from the curbside drop-off location all the way to your boarding gate, let them know this as well.
If youíre hearing or vision impaired let the flight attendant know that youíll need notified of any emergencies or important announcements.
If you need assistance passing through the security checkpoint, call in advance and your non-traveling escort can get a security pass to help you get to your departure gate.
Whether you use an airport wheelchair or you plan on taking your own personal wheelchair, call the airline at least 48 hours in advance. They can perform a scan with a hand-wand while you remain comfortably in your chair.
For those with service animals, check with all airlines when making your reservations to find out what restrictions they may have. Be aware that your service animal will also be inspected.
If you have prescription medications with you itís a good idea to have the prescriptions with you. If you donít have a prescription on hand ask your doctor to write a statement indicating you are on these prescription medicines. Itís better to have the documentation in case an airline should ask for it than to not have it with you and be delayed. Keep your medications or medical supplies with you and carry them on the airplane. If you think youíll need an additional carry on bag for your supplies check with the agent ahead of time to get permission.
If you require oxygen check ahead with the airline, you may be required to rent an approved portable oxygen concentrator (POC).
If you have any food allergies, such as a severe peanut allergy, itís best to carry your own food with you. Special meals are usually only provided on transatlantic flights and should be ordered at least 24 hours in advance.
The following are some general tips for air travel:
* Advise the agent if you'll be traveling with a service animal; or with equipment to assist you.
* Inform the agent if you have a power wheelchair, and what type of battery it uses. The most common battery types are lead cell and wet gel.
* Tell the agent if you need assistance in boarding or exiting the aircraft and if you will be traveling with a companion to assist you.
* Ask the agent about the type of aircraft you'll be flying on so you'll know if the aircraft can accommodate your special needs.
* Verify the availability of a jet bridge or ramp lift for boarding accommodations at each airport.
Although Iíve mentioned flying in most of these cases you can apply the same basic information to other means of travel, such as Greyhound, or Amtrak. The key is plan ahead, and contact the company youíll be traveling with in advance to let them know what your needs are. And make sure they know exactly what youíll need assistance with before you arrive and at your destination. For additional info visit the Centers for Disease Control website. Happy Travels