Travelling abroad can be tiring and stressful for any healthy person, but when you're facing travelling as a disabled person or person with a disability, things start to become a little bit more tricky.
As I recently flew abroad (holiday blog post coming soon!) as a disabled person I thought it might be helpful for my disabled readers if I did a post about my experience, and to give you a few tips. The first time I flew abroad as a disabled person I had no idea what to expect and it was quite a nerve wracking prospect! However, with the right help, flying abroad cripple style couldn't be any less scary.
Hand luggage essentials
(please note these essentials were for a two hour flight only. Longer flights would need more essentials)
If like me you are going to be travelling with a wheelchair, you want your hand luggage to be as light as possible otherwise you will have a heavy bag sat on your lap for who knows how long whilst waiting around in the airport. Here are some of the essentials I take with me in my hand luggage:
- Compression socks - I have an illness known as POTS, and compression socks are vital for travelling as they help ease the pain in my legs. They also help stop my blood pressure rocketing to dangerous levels and preventing me from fainting - nobody wants to be that person that fainted just before take off...
- Medication - Take a little bit extra just in case of delays. Be sure to take travel sickness tablets if you need them and take enough pain medication to keep you covered. The uncomfortable aeroplane seats can be a pain for those with chronic pain.
- Entertainment - I always take an ipod/pad and a book. I listen to meditation audio tapes before flying to relax. It is normally quite hard to hear them on board over the noisy engines so I always make sure I've got a film on my ipad to keep me entertained, and a good book or magazines to read in case my battery runs out.
- An eye mask - Depending on what time you are flying and how long your flight is you might want to take an eye mask on board with you. I always take one so if I'm tired and need a nap I can easily drift off. It's also good if you have sensory overload and lights hurt your eyes. Comical animal mask is preferred, but not essential.
- Baby wipes - Because it's better to be safe than sorry! If you go to use the flight toilet and there's no toilet paper, you're going to be glad you packed these. They are also ideal for a quick freshen up if you're a little bit hot and sticky, and they are perfect to use if you happen to spill diet coke all over your legs! (True story)
- Cane and other mobility aids - My fold up walking stick is always in my bag so if I need it, it's there. You can travel with special assistance with other mobility aids free of charge, including crutches and sticks, which is handy!
- Snacks - We all know that airlines rip you off when it comes to food on board. I like to take a selection of healthy snacks to keep my energy levels up and I will never fly without a pack of chewing gum in my bag. Ear popping on takeoff is not fun.
- Emergency contact details and a medical card - On the off chance that things don't go to plan and you have a funny turn, it is best to have your medical notes and an emergency contact number easily accessible in your bag. As I normally fly on my own this is especially important and reassuring. If anything was to happen, I know that the first aid flight assistant will know how what to do.
I'd definitely recommend flying with special assistance if you're unwell, disabled or have a disability. The service is second to none and with their help you have absolutely nothing to worry about. It might seem daunting if you've never flown as a disabled person before but you are treated like royalty and they take good care of you. You get to skip ques and you are normally seated before everyone else. I've flown with SA a couple of times now and I've always had an entire row to myself which is normally a rarity!
Don't forget if you want to use special assistance to book with your airline before you arrive to travel!
If you're thinking about travelling abroad and have any questions, leave them in a comment below or message me directly :)
Have you ever flown as a disabled passenger before? What was your experience like?
This article is also very helpful and informative. I would highly recommend reading it as it is full of lots of advice and information about traveling as a disabled person or person with reduced mobility from Gatwick Airport. Thanks to Paula for sharing it with us.