Traveling is chaotic, but when you have ALS or any other chronic disability or illness, it requires some proactive planning. Alisa Brownlee wrote a great piece on alsa.org called Planning Tips for Travelers with ALS. The article provides recommendations and tips to plan for a comfortable trip.
Check with your physician to make sure that is advisable for you to travel. Different modes of transportation should be discussed with your medical team, especially air travel, as cabin air pressure is different, and you may need to be tested to be certain if it is safe for you to fly.
Be sure to make airline reservations well in advance and notify the airline if you will be traveling with a wheelchair and need assistance in boarding the aircraft. If an aisle wheelchair is required, remember that these chairs are very narrow and offer no trunk or head support. If it is a long flight and you are able to use a standard plane restroom but are unable to walk to the restroom, ask that an aisle chair be available to you during the flight.
Remember to arrive at the airport early. It is recommended that you check your wheelchair at the boarding gate and request the chair to be brought back to you at the gate when you arrive.
When planning a trip and deciding where to travel, here are mobility tips to consider:
- Assess your personal mobility:
- Honestly assess how you get around. Think about these questions: How long can you comfortably walk? What kind of physical activities do you find difficult, i.e., stairs, hills or standing from a seated position? What do you currently do to enhance your mobility?
- What kind of trip will you be taking?
- Consider your trip and the physical activities you’ll likely need to perform. Are you planning a trip that has you on the move? Will your trip require less activity, i.e., staying in one spot with little walking?
These useful resources found on http://kissmyals.org/resources/ were compiled by Anthony Carbajal who has ALS.
- TSA Information for Travelers with Disabilities: http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/travelers-disabilities-and-medical-conditions
- Planning Tips for Travelers with ALS: http://www.alsa.org/als-care/living-with-als/planning-tips-for-travelers.html
- Embracing ALS Blog on Travel: http://www.embracingals.com/airline-travel.html
- Traveling with ALS (from ALS Canada): http://www.als.ca/en/ontario-clients/links
- Wheelchair Escapes: http://wheelchairescapes.com/
- Accessible Journeys: http://www.disabilitytravel.com/
- Food, Recipes and Recreation ALS Forums: http://www.alsforums.com/forum/food-recipes-recreation/
If you plan and prepare, traveling can and will be far more enjoyable!