5 Packing Tips for Wheelchair Users

Packing for any trip can be tricky, as it's difficult to predict what you'll need, let alone taking the weather and your trip activities into consideration. Wheelchair users experience even more packing difficulties, as there has to be extra space for wheelchair accessories, maintenance items, mobility equipment, and medication, too.

Packing luggage

Here you'll find five packing tips for wheelchair users that take everything into consideration. From your method of transportation to what you might need at your destination and through the duration of your trip, each tip was written with the following question in mind: what could wheelchair users do to make packing better/easier?

1. Travel Mobility Equipment

Wheelchair battery charger

For those with power wheelchairs, it's a good idea to invest in a battery charger that is travel-compatible. Most wheelchair users have a large charger at home to charge their chair overnight, but there are smaller, more travel-friendly wheelchair battery chargers available to make travel a bit easier.

It's best to shop for a travel charger a few weeks or months before your trip. This gives you enough time to make sure you can find the right charger for your wheelchair and test it out before taking it on a trip. Travel chargers may not charge your battery as quickly or as fully as the full-sized charger you have at home, so use this option in a pinch or only while traveling as needed.

Portable shower chair

Another piece of equipment to consider is a portable shower chair. Many hotels may say they have a shower chair, but often there's only one or two for the entire hotel, and it may be an older model. The best option is to look for a compact portable shower chair, like this one that packs into its own suitcase. This makes it easier to travel through an airport without dragging around an assembled shower chair, and it can easily be stored in the trunk of a car or checked with the rest of your luggage. This shower chair is a little bit of an investment, but it's also a great chair for home use, so it could actually pull double-duty out of this simple shower chair. Plus, because it's easy to use at home you can try it out before you embark on your trip.

Portable ramp

If you're traveling by car, you may want to consider a portable ramp to assist with navigating unfamiliar territory. Many wheelchair users already have a system for getting in and out of the car, but this can also be useful for navigating curbs or managing steps at your destination. There are several portable ramps that will fit nicely in the trunk or back of a car or SUV. This can make it easy to get around at your destination, like a friend or family member's house that might not be as accessible as your home.

2. Traveling with Medication

Packing is challenging on its own, but understanding the travel restrictions on medication can make it even more difficult. Traveling with medication isn't too difficult if you follow these basic tips, but also consider your destination and travel method when packing medication. Many airlines have their medication guidelines on their website, and when traveling domestically or internationally, you should do some research to see if your medication or supplements are acceptable through the duration of your travels.

  • Store all of your medication in its original packaging if possible (this includes over-the-counter medications and supplements). Using the original packaging makes it easy to know what you're carrying and helps everyone keep everything organized.
  • Travel with documentation explaining your medical necessity for each medication or supplement. This is an easy way to keep your doctor's contact information handy and can help clear up issues if they arise.
  • Travel with your medication all in one clearly labeled bag close to your person. If you're flying, keep all of your medication in a carry-on item if possible. If driving or traveling by road, keep it in a clearly marked bag that is close to you, or store it in the front or top of the trunk for easy access.
  • Travel with enough medication to cover your entire trip. If possible, travel with a couple extra days' worth in case of a layover or travel difficulties. You won't want to be dealing with a canceled flights and running out of medication.

3. Packing Luggage

One of the main packing headaches is packing your luggage. There are multiple areas to consider, such as clothes and accessories, toiletries, medication, and equipment. It can be helpful to lay out all of your items that need to be packed before you start packing things away. Seeing everything at once can help you see how clothing can be re-purposed as well as highlighting things you might be missing like socks or other essentials.

  • Clothing: consider comfort, flexibility, layers, and the weather both as you travel and at your destination. You may also want a change of clothes or two in your primary bag as a backup in case something happens while traveling.
    • Rolling items can save space compared to standard folding
    • Packing cubes will make it easier to save space and keep things organized
    • Ziplock bags can also be useful for separating outfits into days within your bag
  • The type of luggage you use can save space in a car or keep things safe while flying
    • A backpack and other soft-sided bags may be easier to pack and carry, especially if you're traveling by car or bus
    • Rolling bags may be easier in an airport or as checked bags, especially if you need a few bags or are traveling in a group

4. Traveling with Luggage

Now that everything is packed, you'll have to travel with the luggage you'll need, including your wheelchair equipment. The main tip here is to consult the airline, hotel, and any other destination about luggage requirements or restrictions. Most airlines aren't allowed to charge for medical equipment, so it may be a good idea to pack all your medical equipment in one bag so it's easy to check, instead of having to put everything together in one bag on the spot.

When traveling by bus or train, you should check their websites to see if there's any luggage restrictions or surcharges. It will save you a lot of time and energy to know the restrictions ahead of time instead of on the day.

If you're driving and traveling with luggage, you may be tempted to pack more just because you know the space available in your vehicle, but over-packing can be just as stressful as under-packing. Make sure you have what you need, but not so much that you won't be able to find what you're looking for once you arrive at your destination.

5. Personal Care and Entertainment

Many travelers will choose to use the toiletries offered at a hotel, but it can be easier to bring your own so you have exactly what you like and need on hand. Taking these with you in a carry-on item will be the best way to guarantee you have what you need, no matter what happens to your luggage. The travel size market has expanded in the last few years and there's plenty of options, from brand name travel size bottles to empty bottles you can fill with whatever you need. Remember to clearly label these and keep them in a clear bag, which is a good way to make them easy to find no matter your mode of transportation.

Personal entertainment is even easier to keep compact now that there's smartphones and digital alternatives to books, magazines, and games. You may want to have a camera in addition to your phone, as well as chargers for everything and headphones for some privacy. Keeping your personal items in your primary bag will help keep everything together, have it on hand, and help prevent items for being misplaced.

Keeping these tips in mind while you pack and prepare for your next trip will hopefully save you time and make your trip run a bit more smoothly. By preparing for packing with these tips, you'll be able to travel with peace of mind, knowing that you have everything you need, everything is in its right place, and you'll be able to find what you need when you arrive at your destination.

About The Author

Cory Lee

After being diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy at the age of two, Cory Lee's thirst for adventure never ceased. He went on many trips around the U.S. when he was younger, and then started taking things internationally when he turned 15. Since then, Cory has traveled to 21 countries across six continents, all while managing to start up his travel blog Curb Free with Cory Lee, where he shares his accessible, and sometimes not-so-accessible travel adventures with others. Cory is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) and the North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA). He has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, in a nationwide segment for CBS News, Lonely Planet, and many others. His blog won the 2017 Best Travel Blog Gold Lowell Thomas Award. He hopes to inspire other wheelchair users to roll out of their comfort zone and see all of the beauty that the world has to offer.

Cory Lee's ride is a Quickie QM-710.

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Date: 7/2/2019 12:00:00 AM

Thanks for your amazing tips, these all are very useful for all , and for me more useful,because i plan a big tour .
9/7/2019 4:49:25 AM

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