Getting Around With a Physical Disability: The Best Ways to Get From Point A to Point B

What if your disability didn't have to slow you down?

When you have a physical disability, simply getting from "Point A" to "Point B" can be very difficult. But with the right transportation, this process can be easier than you ever imagined.

Want to experience easier travelling? Keep reading to discover the best ways to get around with a physical disability.

Above shot of someone looking at a map.

Work with a specialized travel agent

When working with a travel agent, we tend to think that one agent is the same as another. But if you're travelling with a physical disability, it's worth taking the time to find a travel agent that specializes in clients with your particular disability.

It can be difficult to find such a travel agent, but it will ultimately make a major difference in your travels. If you have friends or family with disabilities, be sure to ask around and see if they have any travel agent recommendations.

Bring spare parts

Are you travelling with a wheelchair? In that case, we have three little words for you: bring spare parts!

During transit, your wheelchair may get bumped around quite a bit. If you bring along some spare parts and a toolkit, you will be able to fix it up if the wheelchair gets damaged.

And depending on the flight, you may need to dismantle the wheelchair beforehand. And you may need (or simply want) to disable it before taking part in certain destination activities.

If you bring spare parts and a toolkit and don't end up needing them, it's no big deal. But if you need them and don't have them, it can ruin your entire trip!

Man seated in the seat lift of a car and handling a roof rack wheelchair hoist.

Use an adapted car

For those with a physical disability, an adapted car is the single best way to travel from Point A to Point B. And the different adaptable options help you with every aspect of car travel.

As an example, there are products to help you get seated safely and comfortably in a car. And there are products to help you safely stow and transport your wheelchair or other mobility devices when you travel.

Speaking of wheelchairs, you can get lifts to make it easier for you to get in and out of a car. Wheelchair and occupant restraints help secure you safely in the vehicle if you are a passenger, and driving aids can help you safely and independently drive a vehicle.

Finally, ramps help make it easier to get into and out of the vehicle. By getting the right combination of products, you can make your car perfect for travelling around the city. And if you're on the fence about making a purchase, you can always review customer testimonials.

Safer driving: Don't forget the seatbelt

Man in the process of putting on a seat belt.

Sometimes, those who use wheelchairs do not always rely on seatbelts when they drive. However, ignoring the seatbelts can be a fatal mistake!

You might think you don't need an additional belt because your wheelchair already has a pelvic positioning belt. But the seatbelt of the car has been crash-tested and can keep you safer in an accident than the wheelchair belt ever could.

Storing equipment before driving

You might actually have a fair amount of equipment you carry with you when driving around town. Keep in mind that it is vitally important for you to properly secure and store things like your wheelchair and other equipment.

The reason that this is so important is that it helps make you safer in the event of an accident. If you should be involved in a car crash, any equipment that hasn't been safely secured or stored can turn into flying shrapnel that puts you in additional danger.

Hands typing on the keyboard of a laptop.

Research your destinations

It may go without saying, but you need to do your research ahead of any trip. This can help you learn about the different accommodations in different destinations.

For example, those travelling to Lyon, France, can benefit from lifts and dedicated gates at all metro stations. And New York City's special AutoGate system makes it easy for those with disabilities to use the subway. And buses in Spain have belts and grab bars to make travel easier for those with wheelchairs.

Doing a little "homework" ahead of time can make your trip much, much more rewarding!

Call ahead of time

Woman using a telephone.When you're planning to travel with a physical disability, you're probably thinking about the specialized equipment and vehicles you'll need access to. But the first thing you need to do is pick up the phone.

You must call ahead so that the service provider will make accommodations for you. In many cases, the provider is legally required to do so. But depending on the accommodations, they may need some time to set everything up.

By calling at least 48 hours ahead of your trip, you can give the provider time to make the accommodations. Once you know what kind of accommodations they can provide, you will have some extra time to prepare for your trip.

When you call the provider, be as clear and descriptive as you can about your disability, for they may not know enough about the special terms surrounding your disability.

Commuting and local travel

Most of our tips will help you with general travel. But what about commuting and travelling locally with a physical disability?

In both cases, certain accessories may be helpful. A portable wheelchair lifter is an invaluable way to get your wheelchair into the car without hurting your back, which helps students travel to and from the campus.

And it's possible to get a wheelchair that is optimized for commuting. Modern designs like Jonathan O’Conner's hubless wheelchair are easier to travel with than traditional wheelchairs.

A wheelchair ramp leading up a step into a house, a man in the back moving towards the door. Beyond the gear, it's important to communicate with everyone ahead of time. Before going to a gym for the first time, for example, you should call ahead and verify that the building is accessible.

And if your work commute is difficult, it's important to confide in your boss about this. Your employer may be able to make further accommodations as needed, and chances are they don't fully appreciate any commuting difficulties you may be having.

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