Last Updated: 5/24/18
Finally! Summer has arrived, and with it, plenty of sunshine, the smell of freshly cut grass and a desperate urge to get away. Honestly, who isn’t in the mood of a vacation?
If you get around with a mobility scooter, you can go places, too – you’ll just need to plan ahead. Here are some tips to help you pave the way to a smooth, enjoyable vacation.
Do your research.
First off, do your research properly. You’ll want to speak to people with similar disabilities who can recommend accessible places to go to in your vacation destination. While we’re on the topic of accessibility, here’s a thought-provoking question on accessibility you probably want to weigh in on.
You can also speak to your hotel’s concierge for advice, once you get there.
Speaking of hotels, be sure to look into that properly, as well. Sadly, as William Peace said on his blog, Bad Cripple, many places that are advertised as accessible are far from it.
So get on the phone with the hotel staff and ask some important questions, like these:
- How high is the bed? (It’s gotta be easy enough to get on and off of.)
- Is there an outlet near the bed so I can easily charge my scooter?
- Does the bathroom door swing outward to allow better access?
- Are there grab bars near the toilet and in the shower?
(If you want to do a really thorough background check on your hotel of choice, Trip Advisor has a comprehensive Accessibility Checklist for Hotel Accommodation on their forum about traveling with disabilities.)
If you’re flying, take the time to find out your airline’s policies on traveling with a mobility device. I know; it’s a bore, but it’s probably worth your while.
Make your plans.
Now you’re ready for the fun part: planning your itinerary. As you do, be careful to leave extra time in case you encounter any difficulties. If you’re going to be traveling by plane, remember that you’ll need more time at the airport to get through security.
As you make your plans, ensure that appropriate transportation will be available throughout your trip – you don’t want to get stuck at the hotel due to a lack of foresight. One convenient method is using Uber to find appropriately equipped vehicles.
By the way, you’ll probably be best off skipping the group tour: unfortunately, most tours aren’t really scooter-friendly – though this site has some ideas if you’re interested in a tour that specializes in accessibility and other relevant resources.
Avoid unnecessary hassle by checking that your mobility scooter is in full working order before you leave. Also make sure your battery is fully charged – and bring along an extra one for emergencies.
You may want to bring along a scooter ramp to help circumvent avoidable accessibility issues.
Mobility scooters aren’t cheap, so grab some stickers, a pen and clear tape and clearly label your scooter and any removable parts.
Preparing for your flight:
There are a few more things you gonna have to take care of if you’re going to be traveling by air. (Lucky you!)
Two weeks before your departure date, give the airline a call, let them know you’ll be traveling with a mobility scooter, and ask for maximum assistance. By calling early, you’ll be giving them ample time to accommodate your needs.
Next, make sure your scooter is equipped with gel cell or dry cell batteries: wet cell batteries will need to be separated for the flight, so try to avoid that eventuality if you can.
Prior to the trip, attach your key or control pin securely to the scooter using a strong, durable cord (fishing cord, anyone?) and secure the throttle control in the lowest position with removable tape that says “do not remove.”
If you have a portable seat cushion or a removable basket, bring them with you when you get onto the plane so they don’t get lost in transit.
One more thing – if you’re going to another country, you may need an adapter to charge your scooter, so don’t forget that, unless you want to get stranded overseas with a useless scooter.
Something you should know before you go:
In most cities, mobility scooter users are considered pedestrians and must therefore keep off public roadways whenever possible. (Saying you didn’t know the law usually doesn’t help, so it’s kind of important to remember.)
Have you ever traveled with a scooter or other type of wheelchair? Tell us your favorite tips in the comment section below!