Traveling is a way to escape from our normal daily lives and discover new places. Whether you are vacationing at the next city over or the next country, traveling is a great way to create new memories with the ones you love. For CP families, traveling is not as simple as packing a few bags and heading off. Families in our community do not go on vacations often because of the fear and anxiety about traveling, but Cerebral Palsy should not limit your family’s desire to explore.
Although it may seem easier to simply stay home and avoid the trouble, your family deserves to experience new places like everyone else. With the right preparation, traveling doesn’t have to be such a tough challenge.
As we head into summer, discover how your family can travel with ease:
Do Your Research
Cerebral Palsy is no reason to miss out on amazing experiences families share while traveling. As a caregiver, you may need to put in a little more time upfront to plan it, but with so many resources and options available, your family can enjoy a dream vacation with less stress. Wherever you plan on going, it’s important to do some research beforehand to know how to make your trip easier.
If you are planning on staying in a hotel, look up places that offer disability services. Most hotels contain wheelchair-accessible rooms and other special accommodations, but keep in mind that you might have to reserve this type of room in advance. Also, check in with your hotel to see if they have adaptive shower chairs to use in the room.
If you’re interested in visiting a national park, a great option is to sign up for an “Access Pass.” This provides a free lifetime pass to more than 2,000 federally-owned parks to people who are permanently disabled.
Many amusement parks offer special services and free passes for children with disabilities as well. Be certain to check with the park’s Guest Services to get more information.
Traveling By Plane
If you are going to travel on an airplane, the best thing to do is talk with TSA first. They offer families with disabilities a number of ways to help them travel safer. TSA Cares is a phone helpline that offers assistance to answer any questions or concerns you may have. They also provide on-the-spot assistance for people with disabilities, but to ensure that you know how the process works, it is advised to call TSA Cares beforehand.
Airlines today are doing their best to accommodate passengers with disabilities. If you want to provide your child with optimal seating, utilize the airline’s special needs department and call a week or so before your flight to confirm the seating arrangements. Along with TSA Cares, the Transportation Security Administration states that special foods are allowed on board. If your child has certain necessary snacks, feel free to bring them along.
Like always, arrive at the airport well ahead of time. This will help you and your family prepare in case a seating mistake or any other discrepancy occurs.
Most airports allow you to check in a wheelchair or other mobility devices at the baggage check-in without any extra fees. However, check in with your airline to ensure this can be accommodated.
Traveling By Land
Road trips are a popular tradition in many families. For children with Cerebral Palsy, a successful road trip is absolutely doable; it will just take a little extra planning to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Getting outdoors and exploring is a special part of taking a road trip, so be certain to research the area thoroughly for wheelchair-friendly outdoor activities. If your child regularly uses a wheelchair or any other mobility aid, you’ll want to make sure the area you’re traveling to does not have too many uphill paths.
If you want to take advantage of hiking trails and other places that contain challenging terrain, like beaches, there are wheelchairs that are specifically made for this type of adventure. One company, Extreme Motus, has created a groundbreaking wheelchair that can withstand rocky paths and even sandy beaches.
While planning a trip can seem challenging, with the proper research and patience, you can provide your family with memories that they can cherish forever. Cerebral Palsy should not stop us from showing our children the world.