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Travel and The

Solo Woman

A smart traveler will do three things; plan, plan, and plan some more!  This is the credo of the experienced traveler. The more we plan for trips, whether we are disabled or not, makes our vacation that much more stress free and fun!  But for the disabled, there is SO much more to worry about, which can make travel very stressful.  Those who are mobility limited as I am at present, need to plan out trips with many stops and have scooters, wheelchairs, or drivers of airport vehicles ready if and when needed. Those with a hearing problem, have to organize devices that either amplify sounds around them or have them visually sent to them in messages.  Those cognitively challenged or are blind must navigate airports and everything else on the trip, and may need to have a travel companion to help out.   And those emotionally challenged may need help with the stress of traveling as well.  If you are unable to do this alone, ask a friend who has traveled before to help out in your planning, or better yet, contact a travel agent who deals with disabilities.

Wheelchairs and scooters provide mobility for those unable to get around on their own.  Here are a few tips on how to help you while traveling with one and how to keep them and you safe..

  • Arrange for assistance and equipment well ahead of time, don’t wait until the last moment.  Many airlines have a restriction on how many mobility devices can be onboard.
  • Prepare your scooter or wheelchair with duct tape and cable to prevent damage.  
  • Bring extra batteries if you have an electric wheelchair or scooter, as well as an adapter, but be aware of the restrictions for how many amps.
  • Bathrooms in airplanes are small and generally don’t accommodate a wheelchair. Even when one can get in, there is not enough room for a helper or the ability to close the door for privacy.   So, book long flights in sections, so you can have a bathroom break.
  • Remember if you are a disabled person in a wheelchair or scooter, you will be one of the first on, but one of the last off.​

Websites to give you more tips:

  • ​
  • ​See your airline website, such as United, @
  • ​


Consider the stamina of a person with mobility

challenges - 

Consider this scenerio... Being in a foreign country and down to your last bit of medication, only to have the flight cancelled for mechanical reasons.  Been there, done that!  My medication allows me to live a better life, but what if it was something my life depended on, such as insulin or heart medication?  It is so important to carry extras of everything while you travel.  

  • Glasses - I cannot read anything without my glasses.  If I lost my only pair, it would really make my vacation much more challenging, especially if I was alone.
  • Medication - When bringing medication into another country make certain the meds you are carrying are allowed in the country you are visiting.  We always assume the rules about medications are the same as in the USA.  However, it would be devastating to have you meds confiscated at customs or be arrested for having "illegal" drugs.  
  • Have your medications clearly marked and ready for screening.  Bring extra glasses and sunglasses if they are prescription.
  • Always bring copies of all prescriptions with you.

When we go on a long trip, the last thing anyone thinks about is if they can handle excursions or portions of their vacation.  Until recently, I was able to do most anything and I didn’t even bother to consider what my body could handle.  Anything I asked it to do, it would comply.  But as I have grown older and developed health problems, I have to watch what I do as well.  And I have learned the hard way.  Hopefully this blog will help you consider what you can do or cannot do on a trip or find out where we can find help.

At age 21, I was hiking up mountains in Austria.  I was young and having been a high school athlete, I had the strength and stamina that would allow me to enjoy these adventures.   But at age 62 I couldn't even begin to think of a trip that involved hiking up a mountain.  When traveling we not only need to take into consideration our age, but our health and strength as well.  The last time I went to Europe, I toured Italy by coach, thinking that booking such a tour would handle all of my needs.  However, I didn't consider my stamina.  By the time I returned home, I was sick for three months with mono, which permanently changed how I was able to travel and work.  The company running the tour had warned us not to take on too much, but like many tourists I didn't want to miss anything,  and tried it all. 

Book a trip that fits you and your lifestyle.  If you are fit and love physical activity, try zip lining, hiking up a mountain or try a trip to Machu Picchu.  However, if you have physical, emotional or cognitive limitations, ask yourself what they are and take an inventory of activities that might challenge you.  Can you have fun on your trip or will you have to modify it somehow?  Remember you are paying money either way for your experience.  Do you want to have great memories to last a lifetime or those in which you were in misery?  Perhaps it is time to switch to a vacation at an all-inclusive resort where there is limited travel, walking and everything is taken care of for you.  (All I can remember about walking around Rome was how much my hips hurt!)

The following are just some of the illnesses and limitations to consider when traveling:

  • Air, motion or water sickness
  • Allergies or other sensitivities
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma or other respiratory illnesses
  • Blindness
  • Cancer or other debilitating illnesses
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia or other mystery illnesses
  • Deafness
  • Diabetes
  • Dietic problems
  • Fears – Flying, heights, claustrophobia
  • Hip, back, neck and knee problems
  • Paralytic or wheelchair bound

Of course, there are many others.  But each one of these poses it’s own set of problems to work around or overcome.  Unfortunately, we need to learn to be very proactive in our travels and do additional research.  In the last few years since I developed health problems, I have become more and more aware of my needs and the possible outcome of trip excursions.

Other countries are not the USA -

Give yourself plenty of time - 

Read up on traveling with your disability –

Read everything you can about traveling with disabilities so you aren’t surprised.  There are many opportunities on the web, in books, magazines, and organizations you can join to learn about how to travel with a disability.  The following are a few of the top resources:


  • -
  • - SATH Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality -

Invaluable website for the handicapped. Provides tips, updates, news, and information.


  • Accessibility - Disabled World Travels: Safe Senior Travel Made Easier
  • Great American Vacations for Travelers with Disabilities: With Complete Accessibility Information on Hotels, Restaurants and Attractions (Fodor's) 

Book your trip through an agency that specializes in disabled travel -

We must all consider what may happen on our experiences while on vacation. The best way to do this is to plan ahead.  But when we have limitations we may have multiple components to consider.  We must know everything about our needs and what we can and cannot do, plan for these and tell others how they can help us.

I am still discovering my limitations as these have changed in recent years. But I do know the way I traveled as a twenty or thirty year old is much different than now. On my latest trip to Hawaii, I knew I would have to watch things like walking too much and snorkeling.  But when I stepped out of the van on Mauna Loa, I was hit with an altitude sickness I hadn't even considered.  Before we swam with the manta rays, I put my seasick patch under my ear, but still experienced seasickness with the motion of the waves.  I had planned for my manta ray swim, although now I will ask for an extra strong patch, but hadn't for Mauna Loa.  I paid the price for both.  Lesson learned.

When traveling with a service animal, you will need to provide proof that it is indeed a service animal, such as documentation, identification cards, and tags.  

  • Arrive early.
  • You will need to inform the TSA agent you are traveling with a service animal, by showing them a TSA notification card or medical documentation.
  • The animal may require a special screening.
  • Keep from watering or exercising your animal before boarding the plane.
  • ​Service animals that accompany people on board a plane, must not obstruct the isle, be well behaved and sit at the space by feet. 
  • Distract animal during take off and landing to prevent fear.
  • Consider crating your animal during the flight.
  • ​Service animals may be subject to quarantine upon entering another country and US regulations when coming back home.


One of the biggest realizations for travelers when vacationing outside of the USA is that other countries don’t have the same laws regarding disabilities.  When traveling, look for the local health, medical and disability organizations before you leave and be informed!

  • Government websites to countries, for example for Sweden - or for the UK or Australia.  I find simply typing in the country, then laws on disabilities or disabled travel is enough to get started.​
  • Check out the country that you are traveling to on the CDC website.
  • Mobility International USA - ​ - Excellent website for information.
  • Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund - - Another important website for learning.

I made a rookie mistake when booking my accommodations for my last trip at my hotel in Oahu.  I didn't tell them my age or my limitations.  Consequently, I found myself on the third floor of a hotel without an elevator.  Because of my disability I made it up and down a few times before finding the desk and begging them for a room on the first floor.  But I am relatively new at this limitation thing and didn't mind asking for a change of living quarters.

So how can I help myself besides telling my travel agent about my disability?

  • Ask if it has handicapped parking.
  • If it will accommodate a wheel chair.
  • If it has handicapped facilities such as handrails in the bathroom and raised seats for the toilet.
  • If it is close to shopping and restaurants.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)

When flying - 

A good agent will help you request wheelchairs or scooters, request help in the airport or with boarding, order special foods and notify the airline of other special needs. However, it is in your best interest to book your trip with an agency that specializes in disabilities if you are significantly disabled.  However, be very specific about your needs.  Specialized agencies can do the following for you:

  • They can arrange for a wheelchair rental, handicap scooter, lift van, or any other handicap vehicle.
  • Find places to stay to accommodate a wheelchair, ADA approved bathtub, roll in showers, or grab bars.
  • Cruises that are accessible for the disabled in wheelchairs and scooters.
  • Provide insurance
  • Taking care of all special needs.

If you need to find a good Travel Agent that specializes in disabilities, here are a few to start with, as well as a site to find agencies around the world

  • Access Travel -
  • Access Aloha Access Tours -
  • Accessible Journeys -
  • Deaf Globetrotters -
  • Easy Access Travel -
  • Endeavour Safaris -
  • Flying Wheels Travel -
  • The Guided Tour Kerstin's Travel -
  • Lucky Mindy Adventures -
  • Mind’s Eye Travel -
  • The Guided Tour -
  • Traveleyes  - - 
  • Travel For All -
  • Trips, Inc. -
  • Trips Unlimited/Alternative Leisure  Undiscovered Britain Ventures Travel
  • World on Wheelz 0
  • Disability Travel agents -    

Know your limitations –

Come see the world with me,
footloose and fancy free!

Flying with a service animal - 

Medication and glasses - 

Thirty years ago I lost my wallet in the ocean while beach fishing off of the Central Coast of Australia.  Everything in it was lost until this past week when I got a message from a NSW swimmer who had discovered my plastic encased license.  That brought back a flood of memories about a panicked 32 year old student teacher who had to call home to cancel everything and have money wired over.  Now it is much easier with mobile phones, but it would have been helpful to have photocopied everything I had and have a copy on hand when my originals were lost.  Here are some of the cards you might wish to copy and store in a safe place while traveling:

  • Medical cards
  • Medicare or Medicaid cards
  • Drivers licence
  • Credit cards
  • Discount cards
  • Insurance cards
  • Proof of travel medical insurance
  • Medicine names and what they are used for
  • Doctor’s and dentist names, phone numbers, and faxes.
  • Eyeglass prescription.
  • Proof of disability for those who don’t have obvious problems.
  • Travel agent’s phone number.
  • Always know the local 911 numbers for the country you are traveling to.
  • Photocopy everything and store it apart from the originals.

Always consider buying travel insurance –

Things to do before you go to get set -

It is very important to factor in the stamina of a person with mobility problems.  When I went to Italy 4 years ago, I pushed myself to see everything even though I had some mobility problems and wound up with mono after the flight home.  It's not worth seeing that extra site if you are going to get sick.  Experts suggest you try to plan your trips around your home schedule.  If you take naps at home, make certain you take a break on your trip too.  If you need to sit a bit after a couple blocks of walking, make certain that you have scheduled time into your day for this too.  Don't stay up late and get up early without resting during the day, if you want to stay healthy.  If you must to do this, make sure that you have a day on a bus or plane following so you can sleep.

Learn phrases or words relating to your disability - 

There are many resources for the handicapped or limited traveler.  However, these are the websites that I found in doing my research:

  • Handicap website
  • U.S. Department of State 
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Mobility International USA
  • Curb Free with Cory Lee ​
  • TSA passenger support services (Transportation Security Adm.)
  • The Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality
  • American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA)
  • Accessible Europe
  • Accessible Journeys
  • The National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability
  • Road Scholar
  • Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality
  • CDC -
  • 'Travel for the Disabled'
  • 'Directory of Travel Agencies for the Disabled' (

Come see the world with me!
​​​Next month I will be discussing why travel agents are still the best way to go.
See you on Sunday,

April 1, at 6:00 PM!
​​​Happy travels! Ciao!  😎

Know your rights -

Plan before you go –

I cannot emphasize this enough!  When traveling alone, I always buy insurance!  Make certain you have a reputable insurance that includes medical and covers preexisting conditions, medical evacuation or medevac.  Go to the U.S. Dept. of State for a comprehensive list of medical providers.  Read the fine print on the insurance contract before signing, or have someone read it to you or for you.  You might want to consider trip cancellation insurance as well, especially when you have a disability.  Shop around as insurance varies in both price and what it covers.  Make certain you have a trusted and reputable travel agent as well.  Finally, make sure that insurance covers any care received outside the continental United States.

Learn phrases or words relating to your disability in the language of the country you are traveling to.  Bring a translator.

  • I’m disabled
  • Is there a disabled bathroom?
  • ​Can you help me?
  • I am sick!
  • I need help!
  • Please find me a doctor!
  • Where is the hospital?

This website may be useful as well in translating what you need to say.

Blue Badge Style, Disability Phrasebook – Handy Translations For Holidays Abroad


I find Google Translate, a free app for the phone, will allow me to use my phone to translate what I wish into the language of the country I am visiting.

As a person who has traveled extensively, I know how important this is.  As a person with an unpredictable disability, it can be frustrating, painful and just plain maddening to be running behind in an airport.  The regular rule of thumb is to be at your airport 1 ½ - 2 hours for an international flight and 1 hour for a domestic flight.  Adding an hour to each of these will give you plenty of time to check in, even with lines, and check out areas such as bathrooms, kiosks, food courts to make your flight easier.  You may even check out opportunities to go on a dry run of your trip, but call before as not all airports offer these services.  Remember this important rule of thumb, it is always better to have too much time at the airport than not enough!

Wheelchairs and scooters - 

Ask for and use discounts and special offers -

Preparing for a trip is both exciting and anxiety producing for the average traveler. However, for the solo disabled traveler it can be downright terrifying.  When a challenged traveler sets out there are many things to consider:

  • Seek out a travel agent that will arrange your travel to make your journey more comfortable and event free.
  • Be very specific about the details of your disability when talking with your travel agent, booking your flight and accommodations or are arranging it yourself.
  • Arrange transportation to and from the airport.
  • Never assume anything is done, check everything out before leaving.
  • Traveling alone is wonderful, but if you are significantly disabled, you might want to take a companion along.
  • Contact the government to let them know where you are going and how long.

        STEP -

​There is so much to prepare for when flying.  And even though I was flying since I was little, I still get stressed at the airport.  People with significant disabilities are brave indeed!  Beyond that, they must be informed and very detail oriented. Here are some of the items to consider if you are traveling with a limitation.

  • Always ask for assistance.
  • If you need any additional time or assistance in boarding the aircraft, ask to pre-board
  • The airline staff can and will assist you with getting through security faster if you alert them to your disability.
  • Use modifications when offered.
  • Check to make sure that your airplane is attached to the terminal.
  • If you have a significant disability, consider a travel companion for traveling.
  • Notify the steward of any health problems you may have when flying.
  • Notify the airlines beforehand of any special needs or accommodations you require.
  • Notify the airline if you need help getting on and off the airplane, especially during a connecting flight.
  • Diet
  • Allergies​
  • Tell steward/stewardess of any needs you have while in flight.
  • Request an aisle seat ahead of time and ask for a bulkhead seat or one near the restroom, depending on your needs.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help at Kiosks if needed.

Because people who are physically, emotionally and cognitively challenged are often financially challenged too, it is important to make the most of the opportunities provided.  Below you can find a short list of ways to stretch your money to help you enjoy your trip more.  

  1. Always ask - Most businesses don't publicize their disability discounts.  But be prepared to provide proof.
  2. Search online - The Web is a great resource for all of us.  Here are a few I found.
  • ​
  • AARP​ -
  • ​Wheelchair Travel  -

​   3. ​Organizations that provide discounts for the disabled.

  • Amtrak 
  • Buses (such as Greyhound)
  • Cruises
  • The National Park Service Access Pass 
  • Museums
  • Zoos
  • Theme parks 

Accessories, prosthetics and liquids - 

As US citizens we all have the right to travel with disabilities unless our disability threatens others.  If you are newly disabled, read up on your rights by checking out the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and ADA rules. U.S. hotels, all transportation, and cruise ships in U.S. waters need to be compliant with ADA rules.  If you feel that your rights have been violated on a flight as a handicapped individual, you should ask to talk with a Complaints Resolution Official or you may contact someone at DOT Aviation Consumer Protection Division’s disability hotline at 1-800-778-4838. To file a complaint with the DOT, go to the website at

What Can My Body Handle and what are my options if I am limited?

Traveling with disabilities -

Carry all medical cards and information -

No one asks to have a prosthetic device or limb instead of one of their own.  I can only imagine how limiting it would to be without one in everyday life or traveling through security at an airport.  Those who use prosthetics along with the other items in this segment, need these items to live life on a trip.   None of us want to run to the nearest doctor's office or hospital when we arrive at our destination.  Check out rules and regulations on the airline's website before planning your trip and let them know far in advance if you are planning on bringing any of these items.  


  • Let airport security know early if you carry a prosthetic.
  • Have a letter from your doctor describing need.

Oxygen filled tanks

  • These are not allowed on an airplane carry on or in checked baggage. 
  • If you need any oxygen tanks or supplies, call your airline well in advance.
  • All of the following items must be screened or x-rayed.  Labeling items can help speed up the process through security.

Let security know that you are carrying medically needed liquids before going through screening

  • IV bags
  • Syringes
  • Ice packs
  • Gel packs
  • Freezer bags​
  • Pumps
  • Canes
  • Braille note takers
  • Walkers
  • Crutches
  • Canes
  • Other accessories that aid in mobility
  • The 3-1-1 Liquids Rule Exemption.  (See ADA rules)

Other Resources for the disabled traveler ​-

Arrange for accessible accommodations -