Three individuals on a camping trip with The League for People with Disabilities.

Traveling Checklist: 10 Tips for Traveling with Disabilities

Traveling offers many benefits for people of all abilities. The League for People with Disabilities has a Camping and Recreation Program dedicated to taking individuals with disabilities on camping trips, weekend respites, and vacations. Traveling can be an educational experience, expanding one’s horizons and pushing independence. The League for People with Disabilities is here to prepare you with the 10 best tips for traveling with a disability.

1. Planning Ahead

Planning is the most important step to embarking on a successful trip. Plan any excursions, hotels, flights, activities, and transportation to help ease trip anxiety. It also gives you time to prepare for any accessibility and accommodation you may need. Scheduling months or weeks in advance gives you enough time to buy the appropriate resources, clothing, and food for your trip.

2. Planning an Itinerary

If you are an individual who thrives on having a routine, consider making an itinerary before your trip. Itineraries allow you to maximize your trip’s travel time and provide a structured routine. Itinerary planning software and apps can help you create your ideal itinerary. However, it is common to experience traveling delays or mishaps if you are relying on public transportation. Consider delays in your itinerary and traveling times. Flights, buses, and cars can be delayed due to traffic, weather, or miscommunication. Unpredictability can frustrate, so prepare for any inconveniences that you may experience on your trip.

3. Travel Insurance

Before take-off, ensure you have a travel insurance policy. Your travel insurance policy should reimburse you for any trip cancellation, delay, interruption, and baggage loss. It even provides medical coverage in case any medical emergencies arise. Travel insurance is important, especially if there’s any chance you may have to cancel your trip due to unforeseen circumstances.

4. Packing

When packing for your trip, bring any medicines, prescriptions, and toiletries you use consistently. Pack the clothing and footwear you feel the most comfortable and confident in. In addition, pack for any weather changes or special activities planned. It is also good to bring any favorite pastimes you may have like games, books, technology, or music. These items are ideal for those who may experience travel anxiety or who like to fill the down time with an activity.

5. Service Animals

For people with disabilities, a service animal is a great traveling companion. On your trip, make sure you carry the proper documentation for your service animal and submit any forms that may be required to prove your service animal’s training and validity. Pack not only for yourself but for your service animal. They will need the proper food, water, disposable bags, medications, etc.
In addition, you should also plan to take breaks for your service animal and account for any extra time to do so. Breaks for your service animal can consist of taking them to bathroom stops, walking, eating, drinking, or resting.

6. Accessibility

If traveling out of the country with or as an individual with a disability, research the accessibility and accommodations other countries have for people with disabilities. Hotels, airlines, cruise ships, buses, and trains may all have different access and accommodations available. It’s essential you find the best traveling method or destination for you.
Also, view accessibility maps ahead of time to find the closest bathroom locations, wheelchair ramps, elevators, entrances, and exits for your safety purposes. Accessibility maps are another resource for understanding your accessibility options ahead of your trip.

7. Traveling with someone

Traveling with a loved one or a trusted friend can give you extra comfort and ease on your trip. A loved one can be a family member, a parent, a close friend, a camp counselor, a mentor, or any individual who has a close relationship with you. If you travel with someone you are comfortable with, you are more likely to enjoy your trip and bond over a new shared experience. Traveling with a loved one allows you to create loving memories you will share for a lifetime.

8. Disability Rights

All individuals with disabilities should know their disability rights when embarking on a trip. Airlines are required to help people with disabilities travel if they need and request assistance. Airlines have workers who help people with disabilities get the right seating accommodations on flights, provide wheelchair assistance, help with transporting baggage, and can help with other steps of the traveling process.
The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) was passed in 1986, making it illegal for airlines to discriminate against anyone with a disability. Airlines are required to provide disability assistance, enforcing appropriate accommodations and equality for individuals with disabilities.

9. Air Travel

Now that you know your disability rights, prepare for your flight ahead of time. Call your airline in advance if you need help from an airline assistant, need wheelchair accessibility, or any other additional accommodations. If you are sensitive to loud noises or large crowds bring a set of noise canceling headphones to reduce any background noise. Finally, pack a personal item that can be easily accessible on your flight. Having an enjoyable activity or pastime like reading or watching a movie during your flight will help time pass more swiftly.

10. Emergency Plan

Sometimes trips end suddenly due to external factors or personal reasons. Having an emergency plan set in place prior to your trip will help you deal with any unforeseen circumstances. Establish an emergency contact you can rely on in your times of need and ensure this person is okay with being your emergency contact.
A parent, guardian, friend, sibling, or mentor is an ideal emergency contact. Always have this person’s name and phone number on you. It’s important to also have an evacuation plan. Know the closest exists in public places and understand what to do in case of severe weather storms or other types of emergencies. Safety is a primary concern for people of all abilities.

Memorable Adventures for People of All Abilities

At the end of any trip, you will have created lifelong memories and unique experiences. Traveling allows people with disabilities to expand their horizons, exploring new cultures, environments, and perspectives. They even foster independence as you learn to navigate new places, developing a stronger sense of confidence. Traveling is even more fun when you get to make new friends along the way!

“I went to Universal with Camp Greentop. That was fun, I enjoyed it very much! It just wasn’t long enough! My favorite part of the trip was being with staff and making new friends. I liked feeling like I can be myself and have a fun time.” Lesley Cuevas

However, if you experience any accessibility or accommodation issues, take note. Provide constructive feedback to the respected parties, whether from an airline, a hotel, a restaurant, etc. As an individual with a disability, use your voice to spread disability awareness and inclusion so your needs are met while traveling. You can even share your story with others with disabilities who are considering traveling or who may experience travel anxiety.

The League for People with Disabilities organizes camping trips specifically for individuals with disabilities, providing opportunities for participants to forge new connections and memories in a supportive environment. Traveling is important for individual growth and development for people of all abilities, and here at The League we are happy to ensure people with disabilities have traveling opportunities they will enjoy.

“Try something new! I love Camp Greentop because I can be who I want to be and do what I want to do, and the counselors treat you beyond your disability. Life has challenges, but it’s nice to have supportive friends who can get you out of the house and give you a vacation. The world doesn’t always get people with disabilities so find people who get you!” – Lesley Cuevas

Join the Movement: Support The League’s Camping & Recreation Program

The League for People with Disabilities appreciates the continuous support and donations our sponsors, volunteers, and donors make. Their kindness and compassion allow us to empower individuals with disabilities to become independent. All proceeds go towards providing participants with the best resources and further advancing The League’s mission. Our Camping and Recreation Program allows people with disabilities to travel to different camps and states, fostering independence and new memories. Every volunteer hour, donation, partnership, and act of goodwill brings us closer to a community of inclusion. Please donate to our Camping and Recreation Program today.