“I like to get out from the City…I like to go to places where there are beaches and all that…It’s more relaxing. It enables me to explore a lot of things that I thought I couldn’t do.”
After traveling to various countries for competitions and leisure, Stanley, a tetraplegic wheelchair-user and avid traveler from Singapore, has learned valuable lessons.
Tips for traveling as a tetraplegic:
Start with a staycation
“I run through what it’s like to be staying in a hotel, so when I travel, I roughly know what I want,” he explains. Stanley started with two staycations in Singapore for one night each, making sure it was inconvenient for him to go home, but close enough in case he had a problem.
Get a travel toilet chair
Having a toilet component has cleared half of Stanley’s issues when he travels and with it, he doesn’t need a hotel room to have wheelchair accessible toilets. “That really saves me a lot of trouble,” says Stanley.
Plan how to manage the bathroom on the plane ahead of time
Stanley’s longest flight was for 16 hours when he traveled to Canada. “It’s either I wear a very good diaper or I insert a tube right into my bladder,” he explains. “I don’t like things to be sticking into my body so I choose get a good diaper.” It’s important to figure out ahead of time which option is most comfortable for you.
Bring a carry-on bag
Especially when you’re travelling long flights, it’s best to have a carry-on bag. “Spares for everything so that I can survive at least another one or two days, without my luggage,” he shares.
On his hour flight, he missed his connection in Hong Kong, but with his carry-on, he was comfortable to spend a night in the hotel. This is also crucial in the event that your luggage is lost or delayed.
Check your tires and bring spare tubes
Countries you are traveling to might have bumpy walkways or uneven terrain. “Try to change your tires,” Stanley advised. At a minimum, bring an extra set of tubes (or more depending on how long your trip is). It may be inconvenient for you to find spare parts, especially if there are language barriers.
Bring a caregiver
If you have a caregiver assist you at home, he/she can be of great help overseas too. Beds can be different heights and bathrooms have different degrees of accessibility, so having support can be very helpful.
Choose bigger, better hotels
“I normally choose 4 star hotels around the city area,” he explains. “The toilets will be big enough for me to go in and… it cuts down on travelling time and cost on cabs.” Plus, when he needs to use the restroom, he’s able to travel back to his hotel room and have access to his toilet chair.
Express your needs at check-in
“You have to tell the person at the counter that you want to tag your wheelchair,” he explains. “You also need to tell them you will need an aisle chair…You need to transfer to the aisle chair so that the aisle chair can bring you into the plane to where you want to sit.” Make sure you’re communicating your needs along the way to ensure you have the support services you need.
Be aware of extra fees if using budget airlines
Standard airlines don’t charge for using the aisle chair. However, budget airlines may charge. Also be aware of baggage allowances and figure out how much you’ll need to pay in fees (if any). Be sure to contact your airline ahead of time to inquire about any fees.
Traveling with a disability may not always be easy, but with the right preparation and information, you can have a great trip too!
Know someone who loves travelling as much as Stanley? Share these tips with them to make their next holiday a great one.