12 Things that Make Traveling with a Disability Easier
When you have a disability, you cannot just throw a few clothes in a suitcase, take off on vacation, and trust that you will have everything you need when you arrive at your destination. Things that can be done independently at home become difficult. Nothing is as easy as it is at home. The next time you leave home on vacation take along the things that will make your life easier. Here are a few to consider:
- Large print maps: Though these days almost everyone has a GPS or map app on their phone these electronic devices can be difficult to see and use when you have a disability. There is nothing worse than a frustrated driver when the navigator cannot find the way fast enough. If this describes your situation, get and enlarge maps of the area before leaving that will be easy for you to use enroute.
- A portable magnifier: If you have difficulty reading standard print, pack an inexpensive magnifying glass to help you read. Numerous hand-held devices are on the market today that slip easily into your pocket or clip onto your belt loop ready to enlarge menus, brochures, print on interpretive signs, etc. Some portable readers, like the Intel ® Reader, scan the text and read it aloud. There is even “an app for that,” ZoomReader that turns your Smartphone into a portable magnifier at a very low price. Ask your eye doctor, occupational or rehab therapist, or Independent Living Center about the Amigo, Pebble, or other portable magnifying and reading devices.
- An extension cord: If you are traveling with powered devices such as a cellphone, computer, air cleaner, C-PAP, or power wheelchair, make sure that you are able to plug in and have what you need within reach. Often times the power outlets next to the bed in hotels are already taken with lamps, phones, radio alarm clocks and other devices. A 20-30 foot extension cord will make sure that you have power where you need it most. If you have a number of powered items, you might want to add a power strip to your case.
- A small mirror: If you use a wheelchair or just have to sit down while getting ready in the morning, pack a small mirror that will let you see to put on make up or comb your hair. A two-sided magnifying mirror with a hook that goes around your neck is especially helpful for those with a weak grip or only one hand.
- A bent-neck straw: Pack a few bent-neck straws. They will make drinking in restaurants easier and make a glass by the side of the bed accessible, in case you get thirsty in the middle of the night.
- A reacher: Reachers, as their name implies, extend the reach of the user. Things on that upper shelf are reachable. Items dropped on the floor can be retrieved. Objects pushed into the middle of a table or the back of a counter can be pushed, pulled, or grasped easily. There are many kinds of reachers — sticky, magnetic, foldable, with different grips, and even lighted. For a list of my favorite reachers, see “8 Ways to Get a Grip” in the Top Tips: Staying Independent section of my Website: www.MakingLifeEasier.com
- A neckroll pillow: Pillows vary widely from place to place, to make sure that you have the neck support you need, pack a small neck pillow in your carry on. To conserve space, you might choose an inflatable pillow from a travel shop or roll a towel into the proper size, securing it with a couple of rubber bands if necessary.
- A washcloth: Hotel washcloths are often luxuriously thick and thus too difficult for those with weak hands to grip or wring out, so take along a cloth that you know you will be able to use. Make sure you pack a plastic bag for those instances when you have to leave before the cloth is dry.
- Clothespins: Throw a few spring-type clothespins in your suitcase. They come in handy when there is a gap in the drapes, you want to keep papers or the pages of a book from turning in the breeze, or keep things from sliding off a slippery bedspread.
- A hanging toiletries bag: When you travel, I can never be sure if I will have a place for toiletries that I can reach, so I take along a toiletries bag that can hang from a door knob or my wheelchair. When selecting a bag, consider one that has a snap or zip off section that can tuck into your carry on and clear plastic on the pockets so you can easily see what is inside. About $40 at Baggallini.com.
- A shaker alarm clock: If you are deaf or hard of hearing, consider taking along your shaker alarm clock. Attach it to your bed and/or a lamp in the room so you will be sure to rise and shine when you need to do so.Vibrating watches are also available.
- An air cleaner: If you have asthma, allergies, or chemical sensitivities, clean air in your hotel room is a must. Ask your hotel if they have hypo-allergenic rooms or if they can treat your room with an ozone machine to knock out scents and pollen before you arrive. If the answer to both is “No” and you have no option to change hotels, consider taking along a portable air cleaner so you can breathe and sleep better while away.
One more thing…
To make sure that you have everything you need when you get to your destination, create a universal packing list where you can check off all your necessities as you pack them. Be sure to put the list in your suitcase so when you pack for the return trip you do not leave anything behind. Laminating the list will keep it in good shape while you travel and allow you to use it over and over. For a sample packing list, visit the Top Tips: Travel section of my Website: www.MakingLifeEasier.com
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