Stress Free Travel with Your Mobility Devices

With the holidays right around the corner, many people are getting their travels booked to visit family and loved ones. Now, we all know the extra stress that comes with travel around the holidays, coordinating the multiple schedules, making the most of our time off from work and the stress that comes with the cost of holiday travels. Although, for some there is the unknown: how do I safely travel with mobility equipment?

Flying with a wheelchair presents its own set of challenges

I remember when I first began traveling by aircraft over eight years ago following my spinal cord injury, I had a million questions before my first flight. The top of the list was how did it work going through TSA and how was I to board the aircraft? Since then I have taken hundreds of trips throughout the U.S. & around the world and I have learned the most important part of air travel as an individual with a disability is to know your rights, be your own advocate and of course, be patient. Here are a few tricks I have learned when traveling via aircraft over the years.

Flying with a Wheelchair

Disability Desks

Every airline will have some sort of disability desk that you can call in advance of your travels. Utilize this to ensure that you are in the correct seat for your mobility needs. Be sure to let them know if you have a service animal or travel companion traveling with you so they can accommodate you accordingly. Also let the airline know in advance if you need extra assistance getting to the gate, or getting onto the aircraft so they may accommodate you.

Aisle Chairs

If you require an aisle chair and cannot independently transfer yourself, you have a couple options.

  1. Have whoever is traveling with you assist you in your transfers to & from the aisle chair and to & from your seat.
  2. Make sure to move slowly and take your time with the individual who is operating the aisle chair, giving them as much instruction on how to properly assist you as possible.

Every individual's needs are different and by communicating those needs it will help ensure your safety.

Upfront Communication

After you've been seated on the aircraft, notify the flight attendant if you will need any assistance during the flight. Again, the more you communicate, the more enjoyable your travel experience will be.

From the Airport to the Hotel

If you will be staying a hotel during your travels, keep these points in mind.

ADA Hotel Rooms

Call the hotel in advance to ensure that you have an ADA room. Not all ADA rooms are the same. For example, some have wheel-in showers, while others have tub showers. If you have a preference for your mobility needs, make sure your requests are made in advance so ensure you are in the room that works best for you upon your arrival.

Shower Benches

If you need the assistance of a shower bench while you shower, be sure before your transfer to make sure that it is firmly in place. Unfortunately, not all shower benches are maintained the way they should be and this can be a big fall risk.

The biggest part to all of this is to take your time. It is easy to rush around when you are on the road, but just allow yourself to slow down a bit, get used to your surroundings and take your time. As I have learned over the years when an individual with a disability travels we are put into incredibly vulnerable situations, we are relying on others to assist us, we are staying in lodging accommodations that aren't the same as what we are used to in our everyday life and we are relying on the accessibility of the community around us. With that said, there can be frustrations but do not let that deter you from enjoying your travels. If you encounter those frustrations, try to just take a deep breath and shake it off. Enjoy your time with your family and loved ones!

About the Author

Mallory Weggemann, world-class swimmer

Mallory Weggemann has been a competitive swimmer since the age of seven. On January 21, 2008, she went to the hospital to receive her third and final epidural injection that she was receiving to help treat back pain caused by postherpetic neuralgia. The epidural injections that were supposed to help with the debilitating pain instead left Mallory a paraplegic with complete loss of movement from her abdomen down.

Just three months after her injury at the age of 18, Weggemann chose to return to the pool. Still coping with her new disability, Weggemann found one thing unchanged: her love for swimming.

Less than sixteen months later, Mallory broke her first set of world records at the 2009 Can Am Speedo Para Swim Meet. Now, she holds 34 American Records, 15 World Records, and two Paralympic Medals — one gold, the other bronze.

Mallory's ride is a Quickie 7RS

Most of the stories here on were submitted by readers. Do you have a story to tell? We'd love to hear it. Submit your story here.

Date: 11/7/2016 12:00:00 AM

Latest Comments

4/16/2024 | José Díaz
Invaluable resource! ¡Tu guía sobre el uso de GoFundMe para gastos de movilidad ofrece consejos p...

2/18/2024 | Jamie Elliott
I played in a wc hybrid tournament, Mid South, last yr. He is an amazing player and I’m sure he i...

2/8/2024 | Elaine Cook
Great article written by a wonderful Christain man. You're such an inspiration!!!

2/7/2024 | Diana Weaver
I enjoyed reading your article. I'm thankful I had the opportunity to play with you as my pi...

1/10/2024 | Mary Goldberg
Thanks to Tyler for sharing the awesome opportunities! As the MRT Program Director, I'm always ha...

How to get funding for your assistive technology