Preparing for Flights

PACKING
When it comes to deciding on what to pack, how much to pack, you should consider how easy it will be for you to carry your luggage if you have to transport it yourself. I suggest that you take the least amount clothes with you. Bring more underwear than outerwear, which you can wear couple or few times before washing. Matter of fact, in terms of things like underwear and t-shirts, take items that you can easily part with. The reason being is twofold: convenience and ease of transporting your luggage and having room to spare if and when you acquire clothes on trips. Leave room in your luggage when you go on a trip.

For luggage, consider a 24 to 30 inch high suitcase with an expandable, sturdy handle. Make sure the suitcase can has expandable compartments with zippers that allow the expansion as far as depth goes. The suitcase should have wheels. This way, you can rest the handle, stretched out, on your lap with the body of the suitcase on the ground in front of you and push it around. I do this half the time when transporting my luggage throughout airports.

The expandable handle of a suitcase always has two supporting pipes that you can pull up or push back down. It’s the space between these two pipes and the horizontal handle at the top where you can fit over a knee. The knee itself can hold the handle while you’re pushing the suitcase. The only drawback to this way of transporting a suitcase is that the suitcase tends to veer left or right so you have to be a bit vigilant about keeping a straight line; otherwise, the suitcase will lead you and not the other way around. Or, hold the handle and push with one hand (or hold the handle and move forward if you use a motorized wheelchair). In addition, a smaller suitcase can fit on your lap if you need to sit the suitcase on your legs and push.

Bottom line is, think about what you need to take. If you need to take extra equipment or medical supplies, then get a larger suitcase.

Also, take a backpack, which can sit on the back of your chair or on your back.

American Tourister suitcases are excellent suitcases as far as quality, sizes and compartments go. They can be bought at your local department stores. They are sturdy, durable, stylish and affordable. I also like to keep a little pad lock on the suitcase. You can keep your key to the lock in your wallet or in the slipcase of the cushion of your wheelchair seat.

CHECKLIST OF NECESSITIES
A small bungee chord and a ziplock bag of tools for the maintenance of a wheelchair. A large wrench for the huge bolts and nuts that make up the axels of your chair, a small alan wrench that fits the pipe sockets of your chair, a small wrench for the spokes and smaller bolts and nuts, spare inner tube if you have neumatic tires, a thin, portable air pump.

Handwipes – in a wheelchair, you use your hands more than you probably like. Toilet seats on airplanes, in airports, etc. aren’t the cleanest, plus, you may not be able to transfer yourself onto a toilet seat with those toilet seat paper protectors without moving them! You breathe and those toilet seat papers blow off. Also, if you go out to eat and the bathroom isn’t handicap friendly, you can just the handwipes.

Anti-Diarrhea – Always take some sort of anti-diarrhea medication with you on a trip. This is a big deal and impacts the quality of a trip. You definitely don’t want to spend half your time in a bathroom, or worse, in fear that there’s not a bathroom around in time. Speaking of bathrooms, keep an eye out for modern looking, public buildings, large grocery or department stores or fast food chains. They will more likely to have an accessible restroom than small businesses.

Extra Medication – how long is your trip? Take extra medication with you just in case. Maybe some in your suitcase and some in a carry on bag.

Most of the items can be easily tucked away in your suitcase. They’ll add a little more weight. Thus, put less heavy clothes in your suitcase. Lighter color clothes are lighter. Dark jeans are heavy. The bungee chord and handwipes go in your backpack. I usually keep the weight of a suitcase around 25 pounds. The lighter, the less, the better.

CALL YOUR BANK
Call your bank ahead of time and let them know about your travel plans and that you’ll be withdrawing money from whatever destination you’re going to. This way, the banks won’t suspect anything unusual and put a block on your card.

ARRANGE ASSISTANCE WITH AIRLINES
Well before a trip, call the airlines and speak with a representative to arrange your particular needs ahead of time such as arranging an aisle chair. Confirm with the representative at the airport counter to have airport assistance and an aisle chair – sometimes referred to as a flight or airplane chair. Arrange, arrange and prepare ahead of time to save you from a headache and a potential missed flight.

A real benefit, if you do some international traveling, is that airport assistance will guide you through unfamiliar airports, bypass long customs and immigration lines and get you to your next stop whether it’s the baggage claim, connection flight, etc. This is a helluva benefit, if you ask me! I love it. Being in a wheelchair does have its advantages. Plus, you bring your friends along and they love you for it as well!

Itinerary – draft an itinerary for yourself with a sequence of travel dates, corresponding flights and flight information, transportation, hotel information and tourist attractions you want to visit. This travel itinerary will come in handy.