Traveling with special needs, and utilizing facilities that claim to cater to those with special needs are normally two different things; even after all these years of ADA efforts! Are the people determining what is needed in hotels, public facilities, and public transportation college graduates with degrees in special needs, or are they people living life to its fullest with special needs? Okay, I see all sides, because even the person with special needs might have different needs than mine, and when and where do you draw the line? I realize businesses need to stay in business, so I’ll be gentle.
I definitely travel prepared for the worst. It’s just tough because now there are even hefty charges for more than one piece of luggage! The longer I live, the more I learn about the travel products out there that help, but I’m running out of space!… I take only those things that I can carry, or that I can sock away in my one compliant bag.
No matter who you are, and the state of your physical condition… compression stockings are necessary… for anyone. Why would I, spend more than $5 on a pair of socks? Easy… Blood clots, tired and swollen legs and feet. Has anyone noticed your shoes shrink during flights, and from long periods of sitting? Compression socks help reduce and avoid the swelling all together. They help enable continued circulation, and they’re exceptionally recommended for anyone with a heart condition, diabetes or who is vulnerable to blood clots or to having a stroke. Quality makes all the difference, and a tell-tail is if the brand recommends you measure your ankle etc. Sigvaris is a personal favorite. They have a short athletic compression sock that feels amazing. While I still travel with the Care Step none-slip socks (I use these as slippers on the plane, over my compression socks, and in the hotel), compression socks just might save your life and look good as you travel as a tourist in your favorite city. Did you know that avid athletes swear by their compression socks. The best priced and highest quality brands also include BSN, Jobst and Medi.
Now, on to hygiene… For those with limited mobility, or for LTL drivers or airplane pilots stuck behind the wheel, I highly recommend the reusable UriBag. This collapsible rather nifty urinal is very compact with a snap-lock seal - two options male and female. Now, the Travel John… cannot say enough about this product…the Travel John is reusable until full, then you can dispose of it in the trash! If you happen to be camping and even able bodied, this will save you or your significant other from going outside the tent and facing the woodland critters. Both of these are small enough to carry and no one will ever know.
Oh, and for bathing, the one item that I found was essential was the Bath in One Shower Commode Chair. You know me… I love multi-purpose items. This very portable commode / shower chair collapses down to 18.5” x 20.5”. It sets up and collapses in seconds and it becomes its own carry case for the legs.
For sleeping, the most portable of the alternating pressure pads I found is the Invacare CareGuard Alternating Pressure Pad system… this is feature packed. It has a pump and weighs total 8.1lbs. The Liquicell Anti-shear Mattress overlay is even more portable! These are sheets of gel padded comfort. Because they measure 9”x 38” they are oh so portable. If you need help getting in and out of the bed, consider the Standers Econorail Bed Rail. The whole thing weighs only 2lbs and supports 300lbs. It even comes with its own case… and I know from personal experience, it fits in compliant sized carryon luggage.
For getting around on wheels, there are brilliant choices of wheelchairs made specifiacally for travel, and because anything “lightweight” and feature rich is not often covered by insurance, not many medical equipment providers even know these exist! Try the Nissin Folding Lightweight Travel Wheelchair 15267. This folds down to 21” x 7.5”, but weighs only 13lbs. when hotel room space is a commodity…this is fantastic. If you are able to use a standard wheelchair, the PollyWog is very popular. The unit weighs 29lbs fully assembled. Surprisingly, the big wheels come off with a push of a button and the chair transforms into a lightweight transport wheelchair within seconds. No tools are required, and the wheels can also be put back on faster than you can say - Road Trip! By removing the big wheels and the footrests, it reduces the weight down to approximately 21lbs!
Speaking of products not well known because they’re way too convenient, life changing, and often not covered by insurance are the FAA approved Oxygen Concentrators. These are ultra lightweight devices that create oxygen. They do not contain oxygen like the good old fashioned tanks. They’re also fairly attractive; as attractive as an oxygen concentrator can possibly be, AND they’re whisper quiet. Sitting beside someone with a traditional hissing concentrator can be pretty intimidating…plus, they can explode! These newer units can be brought right onto airplanes, busses, travel around the world at all altitudes too! Yes, mountain climbers also love these portable oxygen concentrators! The most popular models and most well-priced concentrators are here!
Traveling with special needs, you likely will travel with two pieces of luggage. Your carry-on and the check in…by selecting the items above you were well under the 50lbs rule!
Here are some other travel device ideas and favorites. This is a very well-priced resource for travel devices and equipment, and a good deal of the items are available for rent as well as rent-to-own. Plan ahead!