The Disabled Traveler's Companion


Suggestion for a trip

Pre-planning a trip

Researching a trip

Preplanning Water Trips

Suggestion for a trip:

  • Try not to travel alone but have a companion that can assist you.
  • Prescriptions and medications
    • Do not take old medications
    • Check with your doctor and make sure you have enough prescribed medicine to complete your trip and for a few days after your arrival back home.
  • Take a copy of your medical records, which your doctor can provide.
  • Have a cell phone with proper coverage depending in your destination
  • Have emergency roadside service numbers
  • Emergency numbers for next of kin that can also be on your cell phone under ICE.
  • Let someone know where you are going and leave an itinerary.
  • Phone numbers of companies regarding the special equipment that you use of theirs such as a van wheelchair lift or wheelchair.
  • The needed tools for repairs such as a flat tire.  Spare tube or patch kit with the tools to change and an air pump as an example.
  • Take an extra cushion if you require a cushion.  Use a back-pack for your wheelchair to put the spare one in just in case you are a long distance from your vehicle where the spare is usually left.
  • If you require Oxygen, you may call ahead to a company that can deliver you what you require to your place of lodging.  Work out the details ahead of time for billing

Pre-planning a trip:  Communicate and Educate is a two-way gate.

The first rule we follow is to never to assume.  We assumed that what we needed was waiting for us at the other end and it only took one time to convince us to never assume again.

Accessibility means a wheelchair can enter the location but does not mean that it is functional for your particular needs.  An accessible location will have something to offer that meets the peripheral definition of accessibility but they do necessarily meet the more specific part of the definition which is functionality.  Are your accessible functions being met?

The more accessible functions are meeting your needs the more enjoyable the tip will be.

The means of travel that we experience and enjoy is with our own vehicle.  We can pick and choose where we want to go, when, and the scenic surroundings between each destination.

Preplanning a trip is worth the time it takes for it helps to eliminate areas on concern you never would have thought of when on the vacation until it happens.  Expect the unexpected and try to plan accordingly.  What happens at or around the area you live will also happen while traveling.

When planning your trip it is best to gather as much information as you can, not only for your destination but also for the overnight stays that you will encounter enroute.  Make a rough draft of the route you will be taking and the places you want to visit.  From this rough draft you can start to fine-tune it with the many travel guides that are available.

From the many travel guides you obtain, you may then find numerous web sites that you can visit to get more particular information.  From the information you gather you then can make phone calls to get the necessary information to see if your functional needs will be met.  Many places of lodging and attractions will display the international symbol of accessibility but that does not mean they are functional for your particular needs. 

Once we have determined the route and places of lodging, we will venture on the trip knowing the information we gathered probably will not be what we expected upon our arrival.  Therefore, we take what we need and do not expect them to supply what we assume they would provide.  We call this our back up systems and by doing this we encounter less stress upon arrival if a problem arises.  The problems begin when we don't have a back up system in place.

Researching a trip:

Researching a trip is your responsibility.  If you want to visit a couple states, start with their tourism office and have a state trip planner sent to you.  Once you find the attractions you would like to visit, research deeper into getting more they could take the time to find the answers and either call you back or e-mail you. 

There are attractions that have their own places of lodging if not several places.  You may want to experience a specific place of lodging so call them directly.  Many times they ask for your specific needs and they will find a place for you to stay that may not be your preference.  Ask them for specific answers concerning your preference and to return your call.  If they cannot provide the answers, you may still go there but you will have to take with you the specific items you require to meet your functional needs.

We have found out that by calling the place of lodging directly and not an 800 number, the information was more reliable to a certain degree.  We have placed a reservation with an 800 number and after playing the request game we found the room to be different upon arrival than what the phone conversation led us to believe. 

We have also found out confirmation numbers do not work.  I also call before we leave to confirm a reservation information either by a mail request or a web address that you found in the state trip planner. The last step, make phone calls for specific information regarding accessibility for your functional needs. Have a list of general questions concerning your functional needs that you would like answers to and if they cannot provide answers ask them to research it for you.


  • Make sure you gather as much information as you can for all areas of the trip involved.  From lodging to the attractions you plan on visiting.
  • See your doctor and have a medical folder with you containing your medical history.  There are many devices available to have a complete medical history with x-rays if needed but you need to discuss this with your doctor.
  • Make sure you have all prescriptions filled for the time you will be gone and also for a few days upon your return. There are some drug stores where you can refill anywhere in the nation but make sure they are in your routing plans.
  • If you need oxygen, call and ask your company where there are places available on your trip so you may pre-order and have them waiting upon your arrival.
  • Emergency numbers for the companies that are of concern with your adaptive equipment and retail locations at your destination.  Make an initial contact to make sure they can service your equipment before leaving.  Visit their web site to locate the nearest dealer to where you will be traveling
  • Have a repair kit with you.  You can find these at any hardware store that contain the tools you may need for minor repairs.
  • Besides a tool kit, we have our own items we always take with us and you may have these same items at home for temporary repairs. Make sure you take them.  Our little box contains duct tape, flashlight, batteries, wire, rope, patch kits for tires and cushions, air pump.  We also take an extra cushion in case the one being used is not repairable, and a backpack for the chair to keep the spare cushion in case of emergency and you are not close to the vehicle or place of lodging.  A folding commode in case the accessible bathroom is not functional. 

There may be other items and solutions you may have and if you care to share them, please e-mail your suggestions to us.

Water Preplanning

  • Call ahead to obtain information regarding wheelchairs
    • No motorized chairs allowed
    • Certain width of a manual wheelchair allowed.
  • Watch fluid intake 24 hours before trip and use a restroom at your place of lodging before boarding
    • No coffee or alcohol that may cause use for a restroom.  Allow a window of about 3 ½ hours where you will not need a restroom.
    • Diuretics will increase frequency for a restroom
  • Call Pictured Rocks regarding medication for sea-sickness and what they recommend if anything.  Please make sure your wheelchair brakes hold well
  • Dress warm
  • Take clothes for rain....may leave sunny and return in rain
  • Have people in your group who are experienced in raising or lowering you while in the chair
  • Pictures on each boat showing how the situation is
    • Call Pictured Rocks Boat Tours for they have two boats available for wheelchairs.  Call to reserve a spot but they cannot guarantee due to weather conditions and repairs to the vessels. 
  • Individuals or groups who have a mental or learning disability may experience difficulty due to the sudden change in the environment.  Going from land to water may produce varying reactions.  Please contact us with any questions or suggestions.  Please have a small group ratio.

Above all, take notes and leave suggestions so your next trip may be better planned and executed. cms by Netsource One, Inc.