Wheeling around the globe!
Travelling with a child with a physical disability that uses a wheelchair takes extra planning. Cooper has been travelling since he was 6 months old and loves exploring new places. Cooper has Dystonic Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy and uses a manual quickie Zippie wheelchair while we travel with a freewheel attachment. It is not particularly easy at times but it’s part of the adventure to test and challenge ourselves!
Here are our top tips to make the process smoother from home to the holiday destination.
1. Booking that flight.
We have flown on both budget and full service airlines.
We book most of our adventures ourselves through the airlines site. If booking through an agent they will notify the airline of your request.
There is often a box you can check for wheelchair services which can be at varying levels of support, and each airline differs in this.
Tigerairways we had to call up and request wheelchair assistance. We basically just needed to let them now Cooper travels with a wheelchair and how much it weighs.( ours is 12kgs) We also needed to request the lift not stairs out on the tarmac.
Jetstar and Airasia you just tick and box on their site, much easier than calling up and very straightforward. You can request a staff member to help you but we support Cooper while we travel as a family.
We always take the wheelchair to the door of the plane and help Cooper transfer to his seat. Services cary on airlines and countries with access to hoists, aisle chairs etc. Best to speak to airline directly.
Here is some information from Qantas on special services.
2. Travel Insurance.
As soon as you book that flight, take out travel insurance! We learnt the hard way that Coopers pre-exsting condition was not covered by a budget company so we also use Covermore now.
We have not had to use it as yet.
Cover-more has a form online to fill out to determine whether they will cover your condition/disability. They cover Cooper for Cerebral Palsy of all four limbs, and his epilepsy.( he is non medicated) We have taken out a multi trip policy which covers our trips over a 12 month period. We pay a premium of $100 added to our policy amount. ( The annual policy is around $400)
I do know that hospital admissions and seizures have a direct affect on the cover that can be provided. It is always best to call and talk to the company you are considering using for travel insurance.
When we travel to more remote places we carry a letter from Coopers Paediatrician along with some emergency seizure medication.
4. Booking accommodation
For any accommodation we book I will always email the property and tell them a little bit about us. I ask questions about conditions of the pathways, bathroom access and steps. Throughout Asia I do not expect great wheelchair access but if I have information we can work around it.
Before we went to Bali I had been in contact with the villa owners to discuss how the property was accessed so when we arrived I wasn’t surprised that the path was in some disrepair but by the end of our stay it was completely flat and great for access!
Wheelchair Accessible to different people/countries/cultures mean different things too. For example a property stated it was wheelchair accessible which it was once you stepped over two steps at the front door!
Here are links to our favourite sites offering amazing insight into wheelchair travel. These people inspire us to travel and prove that with some planning anything is possible!
Cory has great information from across America to further afield places such as Iceland. He is a great explorer who travels with humour and adventure.
John offers great insight into a variety of airlines around the globe.
Ashley offers great information on accessing nature trails and has a great post on Japan.
For more information on what actually happens when on the plane check out our information here.