Transportation, Accessible Hotels, and Equipment

In our last article, we talked about all the steps needed to travel with a Wheelchair. Today we will be talking about dealing with transportation, finding Accessible Hotels, and bringing with you Durable Medical Equipment like Shower Chairs and Hoyer Lifts.

When traveling with a wheelchair it is extremely important that you have a plan in place and have backup plans if anything goes wrong. Before you do anything, it is worth asking yourself these questions. Keep in mind this depends on your abilities, where you will be traveling to, and whether you are departing or arriving.

-Will I need to rent an Accessible Van? Do I just need an Accessible Taxi? Can a Car with Hand Controls be enough? Is the Accessible Public Transportation enough? Will I stay in one place or move around throughout the trip?

– Will I use a Manual Wheelchair or Electric Wheelchair? Do I need anything to transfer?

– What kind of equipment will I need? Should I bring a shower chair? Should I bring a Hoyer Lift?

– How much money will I budget for the entire trip (Plane Tickets, Hotel Reservations, Rental Car, Food, Tourism)?

For getting to the airport, you have several options depending on your location and abilities. You can be dropped off at the Airport by a friend or family member, drive to the Airport and use the long term parking, take the subway, take the train, take the bus, or arrange an Accessible Taxi. Google Maps can be a great tool to help you plan.

Renting an Accessible Van typically is the best solution right now, although some destinations like Disney World have accessible buses that can take you right to the hotel. It can be quite costly though especially if it is a long vacation. What you should do is research all the Accessible Van companies near your destination and get quotes on how much it will cost. You can just search “Accessible Van Rentals [Destination]”. Make sure to have a backup option and backup plan in case anything goes wrong.

The Accessible Van Rental Company can deliver the Van at the airport. If you choose to do this, make sure to contact them before your flight. You can drop it off at the airport too when you are leaving and they can come pick it up.

Accessible Taxi Services are quickly becoming available around the world. Many cities like London, New York City, and Chicago are working on getting all taxis accessible; all Black Cabs in London are already wheelchair accessible.

Cities like Boston and Washington DC have accessible subways too.

Ride Sharing services Uber and Lyft are starting to offer Wheelchair Accessible Taxi’s in some cities and we should hopefully see them accessible around the world soon.

If you need to rent a car with hand controls, you can get them at any USA rental car company like Enterprise, Hertz, Avis, and Alamo

Make sure to research your destination, how accessible it is, and how far your hotel is from the airport. Google Maps and the Google Street View are great for this. You will want to make a list of sights you want to see and research how accessible they are.

For finding Accessible Hotel Rooms, you have many options. Your top priority should be to know exactly how the room looks like, especially the bathroom, and what equipment they have. Make sure the doors are wide enough too.

Each country is different, but you should be able to find accessible hotels around the world. Legislation like the CRPD is making it much easier. In the United States, Hotels are required under the ADA to provide Accessible Rooms.

The following resources you should make sure to visit
Sage Traveling Europe
Disabled Access Holidays
Holidays For All
The Disabled Traveler
Curb Free With Cory Lee
Mobility Equipment Hire Direct
Wheelchair Traveling
New Mobility Magazine- How to get an Accessible Hotel Room

We’ll be sharing more resources on our social media pages and we hope to have a page of travel tips available soon.

We recommend you stay in one hotel for your trip. If you are traveling around the USA or Europe, make sure to go from accessible hotel to accessible hotel.

If you need to bring durable medical equipment like a shower chair or hoyer lift, you can still have the trip of your dreams.

Your options are: bring it with you, go to a Hotel with them, or just have them delivered.

Cory Lee of Curb Free with Cory Lee says you can bring your Shower Chair and Hoyer Lift as excessive baggage. Most airlines, especially in the USA, cannot charge an extra fee as long as it is medical equipment. You may still want to bring a doctors note with you explaining why you need the equipment though.

When you go to the airport, bring your shower chair and hoyer lift to the ticketing area. They will either take the equipment right there or instruct you to take it to the oversized baggage area, which is usually near ticketing as well. The oversized baggage handlers will then load it on the plane. Make sure to put fragile stickers on your equipment so that it does not get broken. Ask ticketing for the fragile stickers and they will happily give them to you.

When you arrive at your destination, you will pick up your equipment at the oversized baggage area, which will be near the regular baggage claim area. If you are renting an Accessible Van, you can just load it up and be on your way

You can also purchase Portable Shower Chairs and Hoyer Lifts that can fit in carry on or checked baggage.
Go Mobility Solutions
Portable Patient Lifts
Mobile Hoists 

The cheapest solution is to go to a hotel that has the equipment you will need. There are hotels that have hoyer lifts in their Accessible Rooms and some that have shower chairs, roll-in showers, and fixed shower chairs.

The most expensive and complicated solution is to have a company deliver the equipment you need as rentals. It can be quite costly, but it is a solid option if you can not try the others.

If there is not an ocean or thousands of miles between you and your destination, you could also consider driving instead. It can be dramatically cheaper and you can easily bring the equipment you need with you. Trains and Cruises can be great options too.

We hope this article helped you understand how it is like traveling with a Wheelchair and you try to travel soon. We are working very hard on getting it where we can fly on Airplanes from the safety of our Wheelchairs and hope you will consider donating today

Traveling on an Airplane with a Wheelchair Guide

Traveling on an Airplane with a Wheelchair is an incredibly difficult process right now and so we created this guide to help people understand how it can be done. We are going to walk through all the steps for people of all abilities and include images and videos of the process.

This is written for Power Chair users or non folding Manual Wheelchair users. If you have a Manual Folding Wheelchair, they have a closet to store it on the plane.

We are working hard on Accessible Air Travel and would greatly appreciate any donations.

After purchasing your tickets in advance and calling the airline 24 hours before your flight letting them know you will fly with a Wheelchair, You have to first make your way to the terminal of your flight. You can either drive yourself and keep your car in the long term parking, have someone drop you off, arrange an Accessible Taxi to drop you off, or even take the subway in some places. Make sure to leave 2 or 3 hours before your flight if you can.

Once you arrive at the proper terminal, you have to get your boarding pass and check any luggage. We highly recommend only taking luggage as carry on. Checking luggage is expensive, very annoying once you arrive, and in many cases gets lost.

You can print your boarding pass at the kiosks, print it out at home beforehand, or have it on your phone if you download the app of the airline you will be flying with. We highly recommend having your boarding pass on your phone because it is environmentally friendly, it is scanned at the gate just like for movie theaters, it is quicker because you can go right to the TSA check, and, if you cannot use a touch kiosk, it can be an even more accessible solution.

You have to now make your way to the TSA check area. The agents will tell you where you need to go. Make sure to remove the backpack of your wheelchair and put it on the tray of the scanner. They will direct you to the side where they wave the metal detector wand over you and use a swab that looks for any dangerous chemicals on your wheelchair. They will do the pat down too and ask you to learn forward or to the side to check the back of your wheelchair. Just let them do their jobs and let them know about any concerns you might have. It will be over before you know it.

Once you go through the TSA check area, you now need to get to your gate. If the crew for your flight is already there, tell them you will be flying with your wheelchair, want to pre-board, and you will need the transfer seat when the plane is ready.

The Transfer Wheelchair you use to get on the airplane

Ask for the sliding board if you will need it to transfer. You can bring a transfer belt or whatever you use to be transferred. Everybody has their own transfer abilities so this depends on your needs.

Before you go in the transfer seat, make sure to take off the headrest, joystick, and screen off your wheelchair. Before the flight, practice taking these off at home so whoever is flying with you knows how to do it.

Hopefully you have a wheelchair where the joystick and screen are one piece and you can easily remove it. If you cannot remove the joystick or screen, make sure to bring bubble wrap to put around them because they are extremely valuable and you do not want to break them.

You will want to take off the cushion as well and put it on your seat in the airplane. This is extremely important for long flights and if you need your gel cushion to sit down comfortably.

The Wheelchair Backpack, Headrest, Joystick, and Screen you can take as carry on and put them in the overhead bins. The joystick and screen you should store in the backpack or other carry on luggage to be safe.

If you need a ventilator or other important equipment, you can take them on the airplane with you. Most equipment is allowed except oxygen tanks (you can rent oxygen tanks for arrival at the airport). You have to make sure it is approved and has enough battery for 150% of the estimated flight time. Most airlines have information about this on their websites.

Make sure to take a picture of your wheelchair before you let the baggage handlers take it so if there is any damage you can have a record of how you left it.

It is important to show them the manual release on your wheelchair. If they say it is too big for the cargo doors, which is only an issue for small planes, you can recline your wheelchair back so it can fit.

You can see how your wheelchair will be loaded on the plane in this video

Once you are on the transfer seat, they will wheel you on to the plane and your seat. Most seats armrests raise up by the way. We highly suggest getting an aisle seat because it is easier to transfer into. If possible try to get seats near the front of the plane, but keep in mind they do cost more on some airlines.

Transferring on the seat highly depends on your abilities. You can use the sliding board that comes with the transfer seat, ask the airline employees to help you (they are not legally required to help, but often offer to help), be carried by a family member, or use whatever equipment you brought from home like a transfer belt.

If you can self transfer or transfer with help, you can do that.

Once you are in the seat, enjoy the flight.

This amazing video from Curb Free with Cory Lee shows the process from a Go Pro

If you have limited strength, please make sure you have somebody next to you to hold you up during take off, landing, and turbulence. If you have limited hand or arm strength, you will need help putting headphones on or controlling the TV.

For dealing with bathroom issues, you have several options. You can wear a catheter or adult diaper, pee at home before you go and hold it in until you land or arrive at the hotel while avoiding drinking anything (We do not recommend doing this because it is very dangerous for your health), pee at the handicapped stall once you make it past the TSA check, or pee in a urinal bottle during the flight.

Soon Airplane Bathrooms will be Accessible to the Airplane Wheelchair.

Once you arrive at the destination, you will have to leave the plane last and wait for the baggage handlers to bring your wheelchair to the jetway. Make sure to let the flight attendants know you want your wheelchair and the transfer chair. This can take some time so try to avoid getting connecting flights whenever possible.

Hopefully your Wheelchair is in the same condition as you left it in and you can enjoy your trip. If anything is damaged, please file a complaint to the Airline and Department of Transportation. There are Complaint Resolution Officers at every airport and you can also file complaints by phone or electronically. The Airlines are liable for any damage and will pay for any repairs.

Our next article will focus on Transportation, finding Accessible Hotels, and bringing Durable Medical Equipment like Shower Chairs and Hoyer Lifts.

If you have any questions, please do not be afraid to ask us.