Are you thinking of going on a vacation as a wheelchair user? First, you should go on a trip in your home country to find out, how you can manage when traveling and if well... you might get enough courage to cross the border. Allegedly the five most popular travel destinations are Istanbul, New York City, Rome, Beijing and Prague. Some destinations are wheelchair accessible, others require more careful research.
If you come from a small town what about to visit a capital city, for example Prague? Beautiful historic sights never disapoint. You can find hotels from around the world on our web Disway with reviews and sites like Booking.com, where you can chose barrier- free option. One advice - you shoud contact the hotel that you are coming and have disability. Always good to check how it is with accessibility.
If you decide to spread your wings and start to explore interesting places around the world, don´t forget to have all documents ready and valid. Check if visa is required. Passport has to be usually valid at least six month before expiration. If you need a new passport and it should be biometric, be prepared that if your hands are affected by disability, it could be difficult to take your fingerprints. The worker will try to scan one finger. Don´t worry the officer will write a note about your disability into the system, if impossible.
At the airport
You should arrive at the airport at least 2 hours earlier. It´s good to have enough time to find out all the details like check in or assistance for disabled person. Make sure that they know you are a full-time wheelchair user. Get a label attached to your wheelchair. Same as the one on your luggage.
REST & FUN CENTER at the Václav Havel Airport
Would you like to rest, watch a new film or check your emails while waiting for your departure? Visit the Rest and Fun Centre in the transit area of Terminal 1.
More info here: https://www.prg.aero/en/rest-fun-center
Security check is not you going through a security frame. A security officer will check you by hands. Usually they want to see a space between your back and wheelchair. You don´t have to take your shoes off as the able-bodied have to. They have a piece of cloth to check them for not allowed substances.
At all airports, a wheelchair user (even if you have companion with you) gets an airport assistant. Sometimes when at check in, they ask if you want to move to their airport wheelchair and they will take care of your wheelchair. Make sure you will stay on your own wheelchair until the entrance to the plane. When boarding is up, your assistants will transfer you to a special isle chair (we call it a broken ironing board) that fits into the isle on board. They'll take you to a seat, where your companion is ready to help or direct them what to do. The assistant takes your wheelchair to the cargo area. One more advice, take your cushion to the cabin, it might be useful during a long flight and, most importantly, it will not get lost.
Let´s go by train
It´s rather complicated to go by train here in the Czech Republic. not every station has got a ramp. Quite easy it is in Switzeland. Pay attention in what class are places for disabled. In Spain we paid for second class tickets, but designated place for disabled was in first class. For my mom to be allowed to stay with me, she had to pay the price difference. In some countries, you can come and go by train, elsewhere you have to let them know in advance (usually 3 days ahead). Depends what company you chose to go with and their rules. Search the web of the company.
If you want to try to go by a ship, be sure to try a week on a huge cruise ship. It's the ultimate luxury with everything. These ships sail across the seas, stop in the harbors of exciting cities where you get out, see the attractions and go back to dine. There is no problem with the wheelchair on these ships. Such ship has a number of wheelchair-accessible cabins, and moving around is no problem. There are spacious lifts.
Before a trip
Before you travel, give some air to your tires, tighten the screws, oil the wheelchair, where it is needed. The squeaking wheel is very annoying. And take a few pieces of basic tools with you. We will also bring one inner tube in case of a hole in the one that´s on. Another advice - if anything happens to the wheelchair and you do not know what to do, go to any local car repair, if having a vacation by the sea go to the dock and there you will find some repairers. They´ve always helped us.
If you decide to fly and take your powered wheelchair, write down the basic parameters such as weight, dimensions and especially the name of the owner, and stick on on the back of the wheelchair. This will pay off. If the wheelchair requires special handling, you should definitely mention it, when checking in. Do not forget to take the battery documentation. Among other things, it is recommended that all detachable parts should be secured (mainly remote control and feet supports...).
It is important to get good travel insurance. I don´t mean only health, but also a compensatory aid, such as a wheelchair. If your airlines damage your wheelchair, they are usually required to pay for the repair. In case of complete damage, the airline should buy you a new one. In any case, the insurance is worthwhile.
Do not take with you new clothes or shoes, but something you like and is your favourite and especially comfortable. Choose your clothing according to your destination and take a piece of clothesline and a pair of laundry peg. Pack clothes made from materiáls which dry quickly after washing, so you can pack less items.
Travelers have tried many ways of saving space in the in a suitcase and have found that the best is rolling. It really works. There will be more room for shoes, electronics and other less necessary necessities that you will take with you.
I recommend a suitcase made of fabric rather than popular plastic shell, which, in case of rough handling, is more likely to crack. Before you close your luggage, put in the paper with your name, address, and basic flight information to know to whom the suitcase belongs in case of loss.
On the handle of the suitcase, put something well-visible, like a small scarf, a colored ribbon ... to make sure you recognise your siutcase easily. The suitcases are similar and somebody can have exactly the same as you have.
Pills and medication
Do not forget to take the right amount of pills if you take it regularly. It is good to have a basic first-aid kit: disinfection, a couple of patches and it is good to bring vaseline, For example.It is good to find info about the weather during your stay to pack the right clothes. Always and everywhere, don´t forget a raincoat, something on the head and a sarong. And never forget the flip-flops or something, you'll appreciate them in a shower and when resting your feet.
Find the important numbers like your embassy or consulate in the destination you are going to visit... local police, ambulance, firefighters.
Every trip requires careful preparation and travel with the wheelchair even more careful. But do not be discouraged. Traveling is an amazing hobby and later it might become a passion...
You will realize that there are plenty of worthy and helpful people everywhere, and although they are often much poorer than we do, they smile.
So, Enjoy your trip and keep many memories. Bon voyage!