Planes, Trains, And Automobiles: How Should You Travel With Your Power Chair?

Traveling with a disability seems like a momentous task. Many places in the United States are not very wheelchair friendly, and having a bulkier power scooter or chair makes travel even more difficult. But for people with disabilities, the world is not closed off. The way you get to your destination is the first hurdle you'll have to overcome on a cross-country trip. Let's examine the most common modes of transportation for people with disabilities.

Planes. In the U.S., you cannot be charged more for medical luggage such as a power wheelchair on an airplane. However, you'll still want a lightweight, folding wheelchair to use because your power chair will be kept in cargo. Airports do provide wheelchairs that can fit in the tight aisles of an economy flight, or you can bring your own. If you're traveling alone, the flight attendants are typically more than happy to assist you to your seat. Some airlines also have accessible seating which allows for extra leg room, so you and your traveling companions can fly in comfort.

Trains. Trains often have accessible seating and wheelchair parking. Some trains allow you to stay in your chair in the wheelchair area. This is convenient for short train trips, but there are two major disadvantages. First, you may be separated from other passengers on the train. Second, trains don't often have wheelchair locks, so you could be hurt if the train suddenly stops. To avoid this, you can also choose a ticket that allows accessible seating. These seats give you extra room to get into your seat.

Buses. Commercial buses are a great way for people with disabilities to travel. The largest bus companies have accessible vehicles which have power chair lifts and extra storage for your chair or scooter. You can also choose to travel with your chair, as well. Bus staff can help you get on and off the bus at your destination and during stops along the way, which lets you be as comfortable as the other passengers on board.

Cars. You might also decide that an old-fashioned road trip is best for you. Traveling by a personal car is the most private and comfortable way to travel. One device you can get that will make your travel easier is a power scooter lift. These lifts will allow you to easily get into a van with your motorized chair without any heavy lifting. This makes rest stops much easier along the way.

If you're taking public or commercial transportation on your trip, always make sure to call ahead to make accessibility requests. That way both you and the transportation personnel know exactly what accommodations can be provided.