I love to travel and see new sights, but my multiple sclerosis (MS) mobility problems present particular challenges. Over time I have accumulated my own set of travel tips. Perhaps some of the following might make your next trip easier.
My trips almost always involve airline flights. Following is my list of tips for airline travel:
- Arrange your travel so that you can make changes as needed during your trip. If an agency has organized your booking, they usually have to make any alterations to the itinerary.
- Book directly with the airline, and not through a third-party site, so that you can interact with the airline if needed.
- Let the airline know that you need assistance when booking and again when you check in.
- If you book a ticket and are allocated a seat at the rear of the plane, call the airline’s special needs office. Ask if they will move you to a seat nearer to the front where you will have more room, without incurring an additional charge.
- If you have a connecting flight, ensure you have plenty of time between transfers. The only thing worse than rushing because of a short layover is missing your next flight.
- Don’t hesitate to ask for wheelchair assistance if you need it.
- Be patient because airline travel is demanding and stressful with crowds and unexpected changes.
Choosing a hotel
Rooms that meet the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) specifications vary widely between hotels and even within the same hotel. You can book online through the hotel’s website, but you should also call to inform them of your special needs.
An ADA room may not have a walk-in or roll-in shower; a bathtub with multiple grab bars is more likely. If you need a walk-in shower, call and speak directly to hotel staff. Hotels may provide a shower chair if you find yourself faced with a bathtub.
Room service may feel like a decadent expense, but when you’re exhausted and struggling with MS fatigue, having food brought to your room can make a huge difference.
Making sightseeing easier
I’ve found that talking to local people can make sightseeing more straightforward. If your hotel has a concierge, tell them what you’d like to do and what your limitations are — these experts can help you to plan the perfect day out.
Check travel websites for the must-see locations at your destination and look for places that have user reviews where you can ask questions. I’ve used these types of websites to ask about an activity’s intensity level and whether a venue has adequate restrooms.
Consider renting a mobility scooter — they are worth the money if your trip involves a lot of walking.
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