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Wheelchair Users Guide to Traveling During the Thanksgiving Holiday

Posted by ROLAND REZNIK on October 27, 2016. 0 Comments

The U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports the Thanksgiving holiday as being one of the busiest long-distance travel times of the year. Trips during the Thanksgiving holiday increase by 54 percent compared to the rest of the year. Wheelchair users are often confronted with obstacles when traveling. This guide will help wheelchair users navigate through the Thanksgiving holiday travel chaos.

Choose a Destination and Plan Ahead    

The Thanksgiving holiday is known as an excellent time of year to visit family and friends. However, it’s also a great time of year to take a vacation. Whether you are visiting friends or planning a getaway, you need to plan ahead. Begin by choosing a destination. Try to make this decision as early as possible. It is recommended to make Thanksgiving travel plans at least two months ahead of time.

Travel Documents and Passports

Although the Thanksgiving holiday is celebrated in the United States, some citizens take the opportunity to travel overseas to visit family and friends. If you plan to travel overseas during the Thanksgiving holiday you need to have the right travel documents. First, you need to obtain a U.S. passport. Keep in mind the average time frame to receive a U.S. passport is six weeks. There are some passport offices that offer same day service for travelers that already have travel reservations. You will also need to contact the embassy of the country you plan to visit to inquire about further documentation and vaccinations required for your visit.

Make Reservations

Thanksgiving holiday travelers often stay with relatives or friends during their visit. Unfortunately, some relatives or friends homes might not be wheelchair accessible and can cause challenges. Book a hotel that offers accessible rooms to make your stay more comfortable. Remember, the Thanksgiving holiday is a busy travel time, so try to book your hotel room in advance before all of the accessible rooms get taken.

Road Trips

If you are lucky enough to be able to drive to your Thanksgiving holiday destination you can plan a road trip. Prepare ahead of time by bringing your car to the mechanic to assure it is in good condition for long-distance driving. Also, make sure your accessible parking decal is up-to-date.

Airline Travel

If you are traveling with an airline you need to do your homework. Many of the main airlines have websites that provide specific rules and regulations regarding wheelchairs. You can also speak to a representative by contacting the airline's customer service number. You are seeking to learn the entire process from beginning to end. Once you have the information you need, plan accordingly to prevent any obstacles at the airport or onboard the plane.

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Pack Carefully

Most airlines allow a carry-on bag and at least two pieces of checked luggage. Be on alert that some airlines charge a fee per checked item. One specific airline charges $25 USD per bag. This fee can easily add up reaching $100 USD. Also, the weight requirements vary per airline. The average weight allowed per piece of luggage is 50 pounds.

The best way to pack carefully is to first consider the potential weather forecast in the city you plan to visit. Choose clothing items that easily mix and match together. This will help lessen the amount of clothing you have to pack. If you have heavy medical equipment you need to travel with contact the airline regarding proper packing rules and regulations.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance companies offer a variety of coverage including trip interruption, delay, and cancellation. As well as delayed or lost baggage and medical coverage. If you are traveling domestic your regular health insurance should cover your medical needs. However, if you are planning an international trip you should inquire about travel health insurance.

Food and Snacks

The length of the trip will determine if the airlines will provide you with snacks or meals. If you find that food will be limited or if you follow a special diet, make arrangements to carry food on the plane with you. Due to security regulations, it is rare that you will be allowed to board the plane with food brought from home. Most passengers are encouraged to purchase snacks and bottled drinks at duty-free shops or stores within the airport. Make sure you don’t open or tamper any of the food items. Always keep your receipt to show to the airlines when you check-in. Some food items might be rejected by the airlines.

Navigating Crowds

As a wheelchair user, you know it is difficult to keep a good pace when navigating through crowds. Able-bodied people are usually happy to accommodate the space you need. However, navigating the outside edges of a crowd is faster. Remember you need to be on time for your flight too.

Document the Condition of Your Wheelchair

Handing your wheelchair over to the care of the airlines is not easy for users. You have trust that airport personnel will care for your wheelchair as well as you do. However, that isn’t always the case. Things get tossed around, even when airport personnel are trying to be careful. Document the condition of your wheelchair before your flight using your cell phone camera or a digital camera that marks the time and date of the picture or video. Your goal is to show every detail about your wheelchair to prove it was in good condition when you handed it over to the airlines.

Thanksgiving is an American holiday and all travelers should be vigilant. You should report unusual behavior to airport security immediately. This is actually a rule most travelers follow throughout the entire year. It is important to be vigilant. However, don’t let it cast a negative shadow over your holiday vacation. Plan ahead, pack light and travel smart during your Thanksgiving holiday.

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