One of the toughest things about being a wheelchair user is finding inclusive travel opportunities. If you're nervous about traveling in a wheelchair, there's no need to worry. Here are a few important tips that can help you cultivate an inclusive travel experience while in your wheelchair.
Request Bulkhead Seating on Flights
If you need to travel by plane and you're in a wheelchair, it's a good idea to call the airline ahead of time to explain your situation. Make sure you tell them you're traveling in a wheelchair and that you'll need some assistance when it comes to boarding the plane. In addition, remember to request bulkhead seating if you'd be more comfortable there. If you're not familiar, bulkhead seating is the front row of economy class and typically comes with a bit more space to maneuver than your typical airline seating arrangement. There's already limited mobility between plane seats -- this request could save you time and trouble during your flight. Just remember that some bulkhead seats have armrests that don't lift up. If you need that extra mobility to get into your seat, make sure you alert the airline prior to your flight.
Get to the Airport Early
In most cases, airlines advise their passengers to arrive at least two hours before their flight departs. When you're self-reliant and traveling in a wheelchair, it's a good idea to get to the airport even earlier than that. To be safe, you should add about an extra hour to the typical recommendations. It's already a hassle to get through security and find your gate. The last thing you need is to be rushing through all of those steps at the last minute. Make sure you're prepared to arrive as early as you need to for your inclusive travel experience.
Research Wheelchair Repair Shops at Your Travel Destination
Whenever you're traveling with a wheelchair, you need to be prepared just in case you end up needing some kind of repair while you're abroad. This is why it's so important to invest a little bit of your time in researching wheelchair repair shops in the area you'll be visiting. Creating an inclusive travel experience means finding the best places to patch up your wheelchair if something happens to it. If possible, try to find a repair shop that's close to where you're staying. This will make it much easier on you if something needs to be looked at before you head out for the day.
Traveling in a wheelchair doesn't have to be that difficult. Almost 98% of public transportation buses are equipped for wheelchair users, after all. As long as you plan your trip in detail and do a little bit of research, you should be good to go.