Traveling with an injury

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Perhaps when we think of a disability, we think of a permanent condition.  However, there are injuries that might sideline us for a while leaving one with a temporary disability.  I recently posted on my blog at Travel Shop Girl about my own injury and trying to maneuver through an airport so I definitely understand this first hand.  A sports injury turned into a fractured foot and cut my trip short.  But what if I was about to go on a cruise or a trip to Europe?  Should I cancel my trip and stay home or still plan on going?  Although you might be able to get around while at home, what happens if you are on your way to that vacation you’ve been planning forever?  How will you get around and enjoy yourself?

Initially, your gut instinct might be to cancel your plans and stay at home and hibernate.  Don’t do it!  With some creative planning and fortitude, you can still venture out for an adventure and make the best of an otherwise bad situation.  Do you really want to sit at home instead of going on a cruise?

Signs and symptomsLuckily, there are companies out there, like Special Needs at Sea, which offers equipment rental and purchase for those going on vacation.  Special Needs at Sea specializes in equipment for cruise passengers so you don’t have to find a way to get your equipment all the way to the port and onto the cruise ship.  A representative meets you at the ship to deliver your wheelchair, scooter, walker, or other item.  They even have CPAP machines and insulin mini refrigerators!

Here are a few tips that can help you with different phases of your trip:

Before your trip

    • Bring copies of any reports related to your injury in case you need to present it to a medical professional on your trip. 
    • Don’t forget to pack everything you might need related to your care, as you might not be able to find items while traveling.  For example, if you need a special cover for a cast for bathing or wound care, pack it all and keep it on hand during your trip.
    • Make sure your luggage is manageable.  You might find a suitcase with four wheels easier to maneuver than one with two or one without any wheels at all.

Your flight

  • When booking your flight or checking in for your flight, choose a seat that will best suit you.  Do you need a little extra legroom?  Will an aisle seat best fit your needs or should you opt for an exit row?
  • Check your bags curbside.  Less hauling of luggage through the airport can mean way less stress.
  • Take advantage of early boarding with the airlines so you can get situated in your seat and not hold up the rest of the passengers on the flight.
  • Don’t be embarrassed to ask for assistance.  Airport and airline employees are there to assist you.  Why not ask to have someone escort you to and off the plane at your final destination?

Your cruise

  • If you can, try to book a handicapped accessible room if you need one for the extra door width or the bathroom facilities.
  • Cruise personnel are trained to understand and assist those with disabilities.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
  • Should you need medical attention, don’t forget that most cruise lines have medical facilities on board staffed with doctors and nurses 24 hours a day.
  • Be careful to not overdo it (activity, alcohol, etc.) as you could end up injuring yourself further.

Your resort

  • Contact your resort prior to arrival and ask if they could assist you by putting you in a handicapped accessible room.  Keep in mind that laws regarding handicapped accessibility in the US don’t apply in other countries.  Therefore, make sure prior to your arrival that you can at least get to and from your room easily.
  • Should you need medical attention, contact the hotel and see if they can have someone go directly to your room vs. going out by taxi.  It can save you a trip and a headache, especially if you’re having any problems.

Of course, should you have a medical emergency connected with your injury or not, never hesitate to seek medical attention immediately at the hospital closest to you.

Your vacation doesn’t have to be over simply because of an injury.  Plan in advance and try to make the best of it.  As always, it’s best to book with a travel professional that can make most of these calls on your behalf to relieve some of your stress.  You should also consider travel insurance for any trip for those cases where you decide you can’t make the trip at all.

Now get out there and enjoy that vacation!


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