High Maintenance Travel

Have you ever been running through an airport at the last minute when airport security stops to go through all your bags?  Or, have you traveled with toddlers?  That’s a little bit what it’s like to go somewhere unknown as a person with a disabling condition.

When I couldn’t get enough oxygen to my brain inside the cabin of a plane, I passed out on the plane’s departure.  I’ve ascended stairways because the elevators didn’t work once I arrived at a hotel, only to find myself stuck in my room the next day.  I awoke unable to use my legs due to hauling my luggage up five flights of stairs.

Did I mention I’m required to carry doctors’ notes for my medicines and my assistance dog?  Did I also mention the notes must be dated from the current year?  Yes, folks I am required to travel with notes from my doctors.  Yes, I have all my belongings searched at security.          2013-06-17 20.16.12

I have to locate the designated potty grass at each airport prior to flying, and my stroke alert dog counts as a carry-on with some airlines.  After a couple hours in the air, could you keep your dog from relieving itself on whatever greenery it could find?

‘You just have to plan for the unexpected.’  That’s society’s simple solution for all the extra problems that I encounter in order to travel.  However, it is absolutely the wrong thing to say to someone who can barely walk when they step out of the car, subway, or airplane. Airport security now limits those preparations, which makes travel even more daunting and expensive.

No matter what mode of transportation I use, planning is super key for me.  Spontaneity is what happens when the plan is disrupted.  It isn’t something I can afford to do.  I plan for my plan not to go according to plan.  For example, I map out driving stops to walk and stretch to keep the nerves in my hands and legs viable.  In the air, I book a flight in advance to choose my seat so I can pace in the aisle should leg tremors or clots become an issue.

                                                                                                                       SONY DSC

Top Seven Travel Recommendations

  1. I highly recommend checking airline options for assistance prior to booking a ticket.  Some companies offer an attendant with a wheelchair to help maneuver inside the airport, but this service does need to be arranged prior to travel.  When I arrive in new airport hubs, I order the service in the event my equilibrium does not return upon landing.  I love making a big splash in a new town as much as the next girl, but no one wants my splash to be passing out on the luggage carousel.
  2. Before making a hotel reservation, I call the staff at the hotel. The on-line advertising can be deceptive.  The term ‘handicap accessible’ translates loosely.  I ask the staff about the bathroom set up, stairs, elevators, parking and the requirements for a service dog.
  3. Always, always, always question airlines, hotels, bus lines, and tram services regarding the little extra costs i.e. baggage charges, wheelchair storage or lift, assistance with baggage, etc.
  4. The week prior to departure, pack and re-pack for longer journeys. I have a better chance of remembering the most necessary items over several days. 
  5. Please gather as much information regarding the destination as possible. Ask the hotel the distance of the closest pharmacy or hospital.  Is the subway wheelchair accessible?  If I travel internationally, I ask what most locals do when they have a medical emergency.
  6. In the event of an emergency, I carry a medical tag and a list of medications with Doctor’s phone contacts.
  7. Most importantly I plan for my body to cry out its distress in unusual ways. Try as I might, I am not in control of the stress, travel inflicts on me.  However, I was ‘born under a wandering star’.  If it seems like more work than it’s worth, I think to myself, ‘What a Wonderful World’.  There’s no sense being trapped in one location on earth and missing the most important people of my life.         2013-11-30 13.55.12

Posted on September 5, 2014, in Caregivers, Education for Parents and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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