The world we inhabit is vast and beautiful, but living with a disability shouldn’t mean it’s not just as much yours to discover as your next door neighbor’s. Through travel, we find adventure, we push our limits, and we learn about other cultures that in turn make us reflect more deeply on why we do things the way we do at home. We come to realize that despite practicing contrasting customs, speaking different languages, or worshiping gods incompatible with our own, people on the other side of the planet seek peace, love, and happiness — just like you and me.
It’s easy to dream about visiting far-off places, but if you’ve yet to step outside of your daily routine since your injury or diagnosis, the thought of actually traveling can be terrifying. That’s why CEO of Travel for All, Tarita Davenock, suggests starting small. By spending a weekend in a nearby city, you can test the waters without the fear and anxiety that come along with being so far away from home or in a country where you don’t speak the language.
Once you feel comfortable taking short trips and have been able to successfully handle unforeseen events — because they are bound to happen and are an integral part of your travel adventures — you’re probably ready to move on to further destinations for longer durations. Davenock says group travel is a great way to do this. Going on an organized tour with an agent who specializes in travel for people with unique requirements will help ease the concerns you may have about accessibility. They’ve been there and done that. They know whether you’ll be able to wheel through the cobblestone streets of Carcassonne and they’ll arrange for a beach wheelchair rental for you in Phuket. Group travel also allows you to meet new people with similar interests and life situations. Experiencing adventures or witnessing a natural wonder with a travel companion has a powerful way of forging lifelong friendships and memories.
Before you buy your tickets, there are a few things you can do to prepare for your trip and reduce the possibility of mishaps:
- Notify your airline and hotel in advance of any special requirements you may have and confirm they will be able to accommodate you.
- US citizens, make sure to register your trip with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. Many other governments have similar services or you can contact your embassy in your destination country to let them know you’ll be traveling there.
- Share your itinerary with your friends and family.
- Add international roaming to your cell phone plan in case you need to call someone or look up information while away from wifi.
- Memorize the emergency telephone number for your destination country. For example, instead of 911, European Union countries use 112.
- Bring an extra stash of any vital medical supplies and prescriptions in your carry-on. You never know when your checked baggage will be lost, a connecting flight will be canceled, or bad weather will extend your vacation by a few days.
- Do your research. There are more and more websites, blogs, and apps dedicated to making accessibility information for tourists available. Read up on other people’s experiences so you know what obstacles to expect.
- Check out Travel for All’s Tips for Traveling with an Ostomy and Tips for Traveling with a Catheter.
“Travel Should Be Inclusive – Not Exclusive,” according to Travel for All, and we agree. So dust off your passport (or apply for one), brush up on that foreign language you took back in high school, and come home with some great stories to tell and photos to share!
Comfort Medical can help you choose the right catheter or ostomy supplies for your next trip. Just give us a call at 1-844-700-7013, and we’ll send everything you need your way!