One of the main challenges when traveling as a disabled person is the very meaning of the word “disabled” itself. There are all kinds of disabilities that require different levels of need. Blindness, deafness, paralysis, MS, TBI, the list is practically endless. Even the term paralysis carries with it different levels of function and therefore accessibility.
Some of the questions every disabled person should ask before planning to travel are:
- I’ve never booked with a travel agent before. What should I expect when working with a travel agent?
- Great question! A competent and professional travel agent is someone who coordinates travel and tourism services on behalf of airlines, car rentals, cruise lines, hotels, and package tours. A considerate agent should be available to you before, during and after your trip to answer any questions or support you during your travels. You will be supplied with our contact information so that you can contact us if something unexpected occurs during your trip. We work closely with you to make sure your trip is comfortable and safe. We will also ensure prompt and timely communication and will keep you posted on any deadlines required for travel.
- Why should I use a travel agent?
- Travel agents offer a personal and customized experience that is different than an online service. We are able to offer one-on-one contact, rather than automated responses and serve as a knowledgeable resource with expertise in specific components of travel. If you’re a traveler who requires special accommodations for your visual impairment, physical ability, or medical needs, we specialize in booking trips for travelers with unique needs. Perhaps you don’t have the time to put together a complex itinerary and would prefer someone else do this for you. Because we have both personal and professional expertise in this area, we can offer advice, access, and advocacy for you during your travels.
- Will I be able to bring my service animal or travel companion?
- Yes. If you travel with a service animal, we will request special accommodations. During a flight, we would consider booking a seat with greater legroom and also indicate a need for pre-boarding on your ticket. If you have booked a cruise or hotel room, we can request a room with a balcony so that your service animal has a space to relieve itself appropriately. If you are traveling with a group or another travel companion and would like adjoining rooms, we can request this during booking. If adjoining rooms are unavailable, we could at least inquire of the hotel to determine if rooms would be near each other, if not connected. Please let us know of any unique needs so we can coordinate with vendors appropriately.
- I require special accommodations because of dietary, health, mobility or other restrictions. Can you accommodate my needs?
- We work hard to book travel with verified suppliers who can accommodate travelers with unique needs. For example, if you require prescription medication administration during the duration of your trip, we will coordinate with the hotel to request a room with a refrigerator, or if one is not available, we will request access to a cooler in the premises. We can also inquire of hotels about the layout and accessibility of their rooms and bathrooms to make sure you have a safe and comfortable stay. If you have dietary needs, we can take those into consideration and research the best cafes and restaurants in which you can safely dine.
- I have limited mobility. Are you able to help me or someone in my family/group?
- Yes, we are able to coordinate with highly vetted vendors and suppliers to help make your travel as smooth as possible. We indicate special requests and accessibility needs when booking with airlines, and we also pass along tips and tricks for requesting assistance from TSA at airports. If you’re considering excursions on your trip, we also take your needs into consideration when booking with vendors who may offer more accessible options. At the airport, remind the check-in counter that you need wheelchair or mobility assistance. It’s best to ask for assistance since the agents can typically help with luggage and ensure a quicker transition through the airport. Once you arrive at the gate, remind the gate agent that you need assistance or that your ticket indicates pre-boarding so that you can comfortably settle into the flight before other passengers board.
- Do I need a passport or a visa to travel?
- If you are traveling internationally, you need a passport. Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months after the date of travel and should also have several empty pages for officials to stamp your passport during entry. Some destinations also require a visa, and may be obtained in some countries upon arrival; however, it may be required or easier to obtain a visa prior to your departure.
- I need to be in contact with people back home during my travels. Can I use my current phone for this?
- Sometimes your current mobile phone will work at your destination, and will typically work in Canada and most parts of Mexico or the Caribbean. That said, unless you have a “global ready” phone, it may not work in other countries. Additionally, your data and usage rates may increase exponentially while abroad. Therefore it’s best to contact your provider prior to your departure to ensure you have the communicative capabilities you need.
- I require oxygen while traveling. How can we ensure I have the necessary supplies?
- We can help you check with individual airlines about their policies. Typically you cannot bring a full home-oxygen tank with you on a plane, or sometimes check one in your baggage. Some airlines may allow an empty tank onboard but will likely need a portable concentrator that meets the airline’s policies. It’s best to get a letter from your physician noting the prescription for oxygen and its necessity during travel.
- I use a wheelchair; what will security checks look like at airports?
- You may still need to remove your shoes or experience a pat-down search. We can help you check with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at the airport where you check in to determine their requirements for security and get information about what to expect.
- I already have medical insurance, do I really need to purchase supplemental coverage with a travel insurance plan?
- It depends. Some plans may only cover financial loss or not apply to international countries or care. Consider supplemental travel insurance and a plan that includes medical evacuation in the case of an emergency, this may be cost-prohibitive if not added on prior to an incident.
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