All over the world, many people for use a wheelchair, temporarily or permanently, for a long list of reasons. For many people with temporary but nonetheless immobilizing injuries, a wheelchair is just a brief phase in their lives. Something to help them move until their wounds heal.
Many people, however, use wheelchairs on a permanent basis. They live with impaired mobility. For these people, their quality of life directly tied to their wheelchair. The device grants its users with a degree of comfort and freedom to enjoy their lives as much as they possibly can.
Some people have viewed wheelchair users with pity or misfortune, Wheelchairs users, however, see their wheelchair as an instrument of freedom. The device has allowed them to continue with their lives normally and fruitfully.
Being in a wheelchair hasn’t stopped people from travelling and seeing the world. Whether you’re in a wheelchair or the one pushing it, it pays to prepare for a trip, however. Here are a few simple but effective tips when travelling with a wheelchair.
1. Inspect the wheelchair
Do not forget to inspect the wheelchair before leaving your home. Make sure that the wheelchair frame is in good condition, and that all moving parts are in working order. Replace or repair any damaged parts, no matter the degree of damage.
If you are unable to perform the necessary inspections, repairs and replacements, contact a reputable wheelchair maintenance company and have them inspect and service the wheelchair. Inspection and preventive maintenance will save you from the trouble of having to search for a technician in a foreign place.
2. Document everything
People love taking photos when on vacation, and the same should be extended to their wheelchair. Prior to leaving for the point of departure, make sure to take photos of the wheelchairs and its accessories. If possible, use a camera with a built-in date and time function to ensure your photos have accurate timestamps.
The photos are your record of the wheelchair’s condition prior to check-in. If anything happens to your wheelchair or its accessories, you’ll have photographic proof that the damage occurred after check-in.
3. Learn to label
Before leaving for your point of departure, don’t forget to write down important information such as your name, contact details and flight number on a piece of tape or paper and attach it to your wheelchair and other sizeable attachments.
Airport mixups are common and it pays to be prepared for the worst. Your wheelchair could get diverted to a different flight, or worse, a different country. By labelling your wheelchair, airport authorities would easily identify your belongings and return it to you promptly. Be warned, though: Do not give out too much information. Identity theft is a real threat.
4. Prepare a travel repair kit
Prepare and bring with you a small travel repair kit, especially if your wheelchair has pneumatic tires. The travel repair kit should be compact enough to fit in your luggage without taking up too much space while having all the tools necessary to perform basic maintenance tasks such as changing a tire and tightening a bolt. If you don’t know how to prepare one, you could go to a bicycle shop and ask for a compact kit.
5. Bring an inflatable cushion
An inflatable wheelchair air cushion can definitely make your trip more comfortable and enjoyable. In the event you’re stuck in a queue for hours, sitting on an air cushion will make the experience more bearable, especially if you have a book or your music with you. The little things will make your vacation more enjoyable, and the unexpected inconveniences more tolerable.
6. Expand your storage
If you’re a person with a lot of needs, lugging around multiple bags can be such a drag. One great way to expand your storage space while on the go is to attach a small but secure backpack to the backside of your wheelchair. Only do this if you have someone pushing the wheelchair for you, though.
You can put in your backpack essential items such as your medicine, some money, or the travel repair kit. You can even store copies of your travel documents, light snacks and a bottle of clean water for quick refreshment. Just make sure, however, that your bag isn’t overstuffed. If it’s too heavy, it could pull the wheelchair backwards and you could tip over.