Get Set and Go: Travelling with a Disability

Get Set and Go: Travelling with a Disability

When vacation time rolls around, what’s one of the first things that comes to your team’s mind? Travel! An experience that is always enriching, unforgettable, and of course, challenging. While those living with a disability may encounter their own unique set of challenges, there’s never been a better time to travel with a disability. So as March Break rolls around, why not share these tips with your employees? Those with access to health navigation via web, mobile and call centre support can find handy tips and relevant travel resources that will make travelling with a disability a breeze.

Travel is enriching, regardless of whether you have a disability. Travel allows you to experience new places, connect with loved ones, or even just take a break from your daily routine. For travellers with disabilities, the world has never been so easy to access! All it takes is preparation.

Start Planning Early

When you have a disability to consider, the more time you can take to prepare for a trip, the better. You may need time to:

  • Ask your doctor about travel restrictions or modifications, if any, related to your disability. For instance, you may need to be hand-wanded at the airport instead of going through a security metal detector.
  • Get paperwork, such as a doctor’s note about your medical condition or device, or a certificate for your service animal.
  • Research the airline to make sure your mobility device will fit through the cargo door, or that there’s an accessible washroom on board.
  • Read any policies that may affect you, such as those covering passengers with service animals or offering discounted fares for personal attendants.
  • Search for an accessible hotel, if you need one.
  • Learn what you need to know to get around at your destination. Are there accessible public transit routes, or phone numbers for accessible taxis? How accessible are tourist attractions? You don’t want to be lost or scrambling for this information once you’re already there.
  • Research the health services and healthcare system in your destination country, and contact your insurance provider to make sure you’ll be covered when you travel.
  • Find specialized travel agencies that have disability expertise, if you wish to use them to help plan and prepare for your trip.
  • Visit the Canadian Transportation Agency’s guide to preparing for travel for persons with disabilities.

Let Everyone Know You’re Coming

Whether you travel by air, train, bus or ship, it goes much more smoothly if the operator has 48 hours’ notice of your disability-related needs. There are several reasons why this makes a difference.

  • An airline may need to ensure there are staff on hand to help you transfer into a seat, assist you at the pre-board screening checkpoint or carry your baggage.
  • Staff can make preparations to pre-board you ahead of passengers without disabilities.
  • A ground transportation operator, such as a bus company, may need time to arrange a wheelchair accessible vehicle.
  • Staff can prepare in advance for any disability-related aids you’ll bring with you, such as a power wheelchair or service animal.

Tips for Bringing Medical Devices

If you never leave home without your scooter, walker, syringes or hearing aids – or pacemaker, for that matter – here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • You are permitted to bring any disability-related aids or equipment you need, and these are exempt from baggage or carry-on restrictions.
  • All medication– that usually includes syringes – should be packed in your carry-on.
  • If you have an internal device, such as a pacemaker or cochlear implant, inform the screening officer when you enter the pre-board checkpoint.
  • Bring medical notes of explanation for syringes, prescriptions and internal devices, or any other situation in which you might need documentation to support your disability.
  • You won’t be required to remove hearing aids or get out of your wheelchair for pre-board screening. If you can’t go through the metal detector, you can request that your manual search take place in a private area.

Remember, you aren’t obligated to share personal details about your disability. But do be specific about the assistance you require. And arrive early! If you’ll need help at pre-screening or for boarding, give yourself plenty of extra time. Happy travels!

For more insight, take a look at Travel Navigator.

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