'The world is your oyster!' This beautiful expression means that you can do and achieve anything in your life that you want. This also applies if you want to go on a trip in your wheelchair. Nowadays there is no longer any reason why you cannot travel comfortably as a wheelchair user. All you need to do is prepare your trip in a wheelchair carefully. These five tips will help you on your way!
1. Plan your trip in advance
If you have a destination for your trip in mind, start with the road leading to it. Are you going by plane and want to take your wheelchair with you? Each airline has different conditions and restrictions on weight and size for taking wheelchairs on board. Check out the guidelines of some airlines below:
If you have a manual wheelchair with a folding frame, you can simply fold it and usually check in just like with any other luggage. If you have a manual wheelchair with a fixed frame, it might be necessary to check in at a special facility used for oversize load. Contact our airport in advance. However, it is advisable to contact the airline at least 48 hours before departure, or even better, at the time of booking.
If you are permanently wheelchair dependent, it is important to know that boarding is usually only possible with a special wheelchair that is suitable for the narrow aisles of the aircraft. You usually have to check in your wheelchair in advance, but you can continue to use it until just before boarding the aircraft. You only have to change chairs immediately before you board the plane. Your wheelchair will then be loaded onto the plane by the airport staff and made available to you again in a similar position after landing.
The only thing you should bear in mind is that wheelchair users usually are the first to board the aircraft and the last to disembark. Your stay on board can therefore last around an hour longer than the actual flight.
Are you traveling by train and do you need help with boarding, transferring and disembarking? Then you can use Passenger Assistance. Do you want to know whether you can take your wheelchair or another aid with you? You will find all the necessary information about the transport of aids by train on the Passenger Assistance website. There is a maximum number of places on the train for travelers using an aid. It may therefore happen that you have to take a train earlier or later.
Before you book a ticket, check whether your wheelchair is covered by your travel insurance. You may need additional cover or make a specific claim to get a refund in the event of loss or damage to your wheelchair. To avoid unforeseen situations, you can also consider renting a wheelchair at your destination instead of bringing your own wheelchair. Keep in mind that it probably won't be as comfortable as your own custom made wheelchair.
3. Learn about your destination
It is wise to think in advance what you want to do during your trip and find out whether this is also possible. Most museums, theaters and shopping centers have a website where you can find information about accessibility. A call or sending an email to be sure is also possible. However, it is smart to have a list of alternative places and attractions that you want to visit, in case one turns out to be closed or less accessible than you thought.
4. Book the right accommodation
Often the cheapest hotels are not located in the center of a city. If you want to stay in a convenient and accessible location, it can't hurt to pay a little extra for a more centrally located accommodation. Research the area where you want to stay beforehand so you know you can get around easily. For example, check whether there is an accessible train, bus or metro station nearby. It is also worth choosing an accommodation near some of the places you would like to see. Can't figure it out yourself? Then hire a specialized travel agency to help you plan your trip in a wheelchair.
5. Provide a comfortable wheelchair
A trip in your wheelchair is great, as long as you have a wheelchair that you can use comfortably and pain-free all day long. With the wheelchairs of O4 Wheelchairs you sit upright all day long, without putting pressure on your lungs or other organs. In addition, the wheelchairs are extremely light, which is very pleasant if you are busy all day. The dynamic tip control makes gravity your ally; the free fall to the rear is no longer noticeable and is fully secured. Relaxed driving in a wheelchair that helps and supports you and in which you still have energy at the end of the day for a drink in a bar!
All well planned? Then nothing stands in the way of going on a trip in your wheelchair and experiencing different cultures. Want to know more? In a next blog, O4 wheelchair user and experienced traveller Paul Surreaux from France will share his travelling tips.