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Traveling with a Disabled Friend

TRAVELLING with a Disabled COMPANION Challenges and Rewards

Traveling with a companion is always fun but when he or she is disabled, companionship often becomes a necessity. A vacation furnishes a special opportunity for friends and family to spend quality time together. Traveling with the disabled presents certain challenges that often depend on the type of disability, associated problems and financial resources. Here are 10 proven tips to make a vacation with the disabled traveler rewarding for everyone.

1. Make the trip last as long as possible. The time spent “Traveling is not as important as the time you spend together. Planning is half the fun. Write ahead for information on your destination and make up a daily ‘count down’ check list leading up to the day of departure. Always take a camera or camcorder so memories and pictures can be shared later.

2. Create an Itinerary and give a copy to each traveler. Planning ahead avoids confusion and anxiety, en route. Be sure to include all transportation and hotel information. Schedules can be formal or casual as the trip dictates but remember flexibility is important.

3. Develop a budget and create a Travel Fund. Predict costs for shared expenses( ground transportation, accommodation and activities) collect money in advance. Make one person in charge of the money. When making reservations for hotels, transportation and activities ask if there is a disabled discount - many include co-travelers also.

4. Keep the first day short. Preparation for travel can often be confusing, anxiety -inducing and just plain tiring. Anticipation keeps many travelers awake the night before departure. A short first day allows time for unforeseen delays and eliminates the probability of being worn-out before the vacation begins.

5. Pack an easy-to-read digital alarm clock. Dark hotel rooms, small windows in cruise cabins or unfamiliar guest rooms can make it difficult to read a watch .An inexpensive digital clock is easy to read and gets everyone up on time.

6. Reserve the type of hotel room you need. Rooms on the main floor or close to the elevators are more convenient for the disabled traveler. Many hotels and motels have specially modified rooms, which reduces frustration for everyone. Ask ahead. When making your reservations be sure to specify whether you wish smoking or nonsmoking accommodations.

7. Plan ahead for food restrictions/requirements. With advance notice most cruise and airlines are happy to accommodate travelers with special dietary needs. If medications needs to be taken with food, make sure arrangements are made to eat regularly. A package of crackers in your pocket is a great fall back

8. Pack two small suitcases( one large overstuffed one) Bring a small cart or travel carrier for luggage. Check your luggage at curbside when flying to avoid waiting in line with your bags. Make sure you have a travel-on bag that carries any medication.

9. Use ground transportation, whenever possible. Getting from one airport gate to another or going through line ups at attractions can use up everyone’s energy. If the disabled traveler is not already using a wheelchair, ask ahead of time that one be made available. Saves energy for the more fun activities.

10. Make sure there is sufficient ‘alone time’. Build in time for the more active travelers to burn off some energy and time fore those who want for those who want to or need to rest, to do so. Space and seclusion allows individuals time to rejuvenate and thereby better enjoy the time spent together. When traveling by train, car, bus or plane, change seats partners to ensure everyone has a chance to experience the trip.

The disabled Traveler does not have to crimp the style for others in the party. Nor does the disabled traveler have to dictate all the procedures of the vacation. Organization is the key to all successful trips but it is especially important to the disabled traveler. Planning ahead and anticipating special needs before they become problems ensures that everyone has an enjoyable vacation.