How to travel with a loved one that uses a wheelchair?

You may have seen people traveling to exotic places with wheelchair users. You probably felt jealous because you couldn’t have similar fun with your wheelchair-abled loved one! 

Well, it’s challenging and intimidating to travel with someone in a wheelchair. But, like them, you can also have a gala time with your mobility-impaired close one. 

However, you must follow these tips for a smooth and enjoyable journey!

1. Speak to the hotel room manager beforehand

You must ensure that the hotel has wheelchair-friendly accommodations when looking for hotel rooms. 

And when it comes to the rooms, you must ensure they are wheelchair accessible. 

Remember, “accessible” can mean entirely different things to different people. For example, for all you know, the hotel manager might feel that a wheelchair-friendly room must only have a bathroom with handlebars along the shower. So be very specific in your needs. 

Moreover, if you’re particular about which side of the bed the patient wants to sleep in (such as in the case of hemiparalysis patients), see to it that there’s ample space on that side.

2. Talk to the airlines

You should check out the TSA guidelines when booking your flights. In addition, TSA, or Transportation Security Administration, has several support programs for people suffering from different medical conditions. 

In fact, in 2021, airlines carried more than 532,000 wheelchair-bound passengers. 

So, the professionals will be able to help you out regarding how to maneuver the wheelchair inside the airport as well as on the plane. 

In many special cases, the person bound to the wheelchair might not be able to comfortably move their limbs. 

So, talk to the disability service section of said airline about whether they have a different section for the disabled one or not. If they don’t have one, speak to the customer service department.

3. Take supplies for road trips

If you’re taking a road trip instead of a train or plane, you’ll have to keep driving for long hours. This means that you will need to take multiple rest stops. 

But just like hotels, not all rest stops or gas stations will actually be wheelchair-friendly, even if they claim that. 

You can map out your road trip beforehand and check which rest stops will be comfortable for both you and the patient in the wheelchair. 

You can assist the patient there if you see a big enough restroom along the way. Moreover, don’t be shy about asking the people in these rest stops to help you. Most of the time, they’ll be more than happy to assist both of you.

4. Prepare an emergency kit

No matter where you’re traveling, it’s a good idea to carry some emergency supplies for the wheelchair in case it breaks or becomes damaged. 

Just like a first-aid kit, prepare a wheelchair-emergency kit containing basic things like duct tape, bubble wrap, Allen keys and wrenches, and extra screws. 

You never know when the wheelchair might get damaged, or the screws might come off, especially if it experiences turbulence during the flight or road journey. 

In case you give the wheelchair to the cabin crew or similar authorities, make sure that the wheelchair manual is securely tied to the wheelchair. This way, the authorities will know how to properly take care of it.

5. Carry necessary medical and emergency devices

Besides carrying the usual first-aid kit, it’s important to carry other medical equipment and devices that the patient might use daily. 

For example, if they have to take a variety of pills throughout the week, you can arrange all the pills in a pill organizer and carry them with you. 

Similarly, don’t forget to carry PEG tubes, tube-feeding supplies, pumps, and bags. 

If you feel that you’ll forget these things, make a note on your phone or set the alarm. 

You can also carry a neck pillow or a bucket for the patient’s comfort. If they are airsick or carsick, bring a bunch of sickness bags too.

You must also think about investing in disability phones. So, if you leave them behind in the hotel to explore, they can connect with you easily whenever they need. This works especially if they can’t handle regular smartphones.

6. Give both of yourselves some time

If this is your first trip with a wheelchair-abled person, you will naturally feel nervous and overwhelmed. 

However, keep in mind that despite being a new experience for you both, it doesn’t have to be physically or mentally straining all the time. 

Remember to calm yourself with deep breaths and take time to maneuver the wheelchair when you’re tired. 

Don’t forget to take care of the person in the wheelchair, especially if they don’t like to keep sitting for hours. In this case, you can take more frequent breaks in between. 

Though the entire trip might become a little longer this way, you both will be much more at ease.


A trip can be exciting, but you must remember a few important things while traveling with someone with special needs. So, take care of your loved one calmly, and don’t forget to have a great time!

Answer Prime

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