Your travel checklist:
5 tips for smooth sailing with limited mobility.
Traveling away from home is hard enough — and when you have limited mobility from a recent surgery or injury, it can be a real pain. But your trip is totally doable. All you need is the right support to get you on your feet so you can hit the road, or catch your flight, without worry.
We’ve rounded up our top travel tips to ease your journey. Let’s go.
Get your doctor’s OK. Before you take off, check with your physician to make sure you’re in the clear. Some conditions can be tricky for traveling. For example, if you’re flying with a casted injury, you may require additional seats to elevate your limb and reduce the risk of swelling.1 And if your doctor prescribed rest for your condition, then you better take a rain check on your trip.
Plan ahead for your stay. Traveling with limited mobility requires a little extra planning. Here are some helpful tips for booking your hotel room.
- Call — don’t click. Pick up the phone to make sure your room has everything you need for a safe, enjoyable stay.
- Request a room near an entrance. The less distance you have to travel, the better.
- Make sure it’s accessible. You’ll want a room that’s designed for universal accessibility. That means safety bars, a seat in the shower/tub, and lower counters and sinks.
Staying with family or friends? Double-check the setup. Ensure they have a comfortable place for you to sleep — preferably on the first floor near a bathroom.
Planes, trains and automobiles. Pretty much every type of travel company will offer extra assistance if you call ahead. A representative will help you board safely and stow away any mobility aids, like a wheelchair or transport chair.
Pack the right gear. When you have limited mobility, having all the essentials on the go can make travel much easier. You’ll find everything you need at Medline atHome. Here are our top picks:
- Steady yourself. This folding t-handle cane supports up to 250 pounds, yet easily folds flat to tuck away.
- Hold everything. Attach this pouch to your walker to keep necessities within reach, like your wallet, keys and cellphone.
- Stroll and sip. This walker accessory lets you easily switch to a cane when you're in narrow spaces, like a plane, bus or train. And the cupholder promotes good hydration, which helps with recovery.4
- Cover up. Keep your cast dry and protected when bathing or showering with waterproof cast protectors.
- Take the pressure off. The CDC recommends getting up to walk every two to three hours during extended travel periods to help prevent blood clots from forming.5 When walking isn’t possible, compression socks can help improve blood flow, lessen pain from swelling, and reduce the likelihood of forming a blood clot.6 But be sure to check with your doctor before you wear them.
Breeze through the airport. During holiday travel season, 2.3 million people a day make their way through airports in the U.S.2 Even with limited mobility, there are ways to navigate the crowds with less pain or complications.
- Call the airline in advance. Give them a heads up on your condition and the mobility aids you'll be traveling with, like a rollator or knee walker. The airline can have a staff member waiting for you to escort you through the airport to your gate. Once at the gate, your flight attendants can help you get situated onboard.
- Know what to expect at security. There’s a bonus to traveling with an injury: you get to skip the long security lines. Call the TSA Cares helpline3 (855.787.2227) to find out what you can expect based on the airport and your condition.
Celebrate — you’ve arrived. Recovering from an injury or surgery can make travel a little tricky — but it doesn't have to ruin your plans. If you stick to your doctor's orders, do a little extra planning and pack smart, it’ll make your journey much easier. And just think of all the family and friends waiting to celebrate at your destination. That’s worth all the extra effort.
- Flying With a Cast, My Ortho Clinic: http://myorthoclinic.com/faqs/flying-with-a-cast/ 2. Holiday Travel Outlook, TSA: https://www.tsa.gov/news/releases/2018/12/20/tsa-releases-2018-holiday-travel-outlook-provides-travel-tips-passengers. 3. Passenger Support, TSA: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/passenger-support. 4. Health Benefits of Water Intake During Injury Recovery, Franklin Rehabilitation: https://www.franklinrehab.com/2016/07/01/health-benefits-of-water-intake-during-injury-recovery/. 5. Blood Clots During Travel, CDC: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/dvt. 6. Using Compression Stockings for Deep Vein Thrombosis, Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/health/dvt/compression-stockings.
All sources accessed November 4, 2019.