(BPT) - Traveling, especially during peak times, can come with lots of hassles. Booking a flight, traversing through a packed airport and getting to the gate on time are just a few things that can cause stress. Then there's using those tiny on-board bathrooms, and hoping you get your luggage back in one piece.
Travel is difficult for the average person, but now imagine doing all this in a wheelchair.
“Problems for travelers with disabilities are extremely common,” says Shaun Castle, a service-disabled U.S. Army veteran and deputy executive director of Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA). “By far, the number one complaint that we receive from our members about any issue, is about the problems with air travel.”
Castle has experienced the difficulties firsthand. He has had his wheelchair bent, cracked and even lost in separate incidents.
“These are more than minor inconveniences,” Castle says. “If my wheelchair is damaged, it may mean I am stranded until I can get it repaired.”
But things could be getting better soon for Castle and tens of thousands of travelers with disabilities with the signing of the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2018 (H.R. 302) by President Donald Trump.
The passage of H.R. 302 provides a “bill of rights” and an advisory panel for passengers with disabilities, as well as revised training and procedures for TSA screenings for people with disabilities.
PVA calls it a matter of basic civil rights and has been a vocal advocate for safer trips for all travelers with disabilities. The congressionally chartered veteran’s service organization even challenged the Department of Transportation in court to move forward with requirements for accessible bathrooms on single-aisle planes.
There are some things travelers with disabilities can do to reduce risks, especially during the busy peak travel times.
Write it down. The group recommends attaching written instructions for folding and stowing directly to wheelchairs and scooters. Many airlines have forms online for passengers to complete.
Plan ahead. Call the airline a week in advance of the flight to confirm special arrangements and call the TSA Cares helpline 72 hours in advance (855-787-2227) for assistance with security.
"This new bill recognizing the rights of travelers with disabilities is a huge move forward, but there's more work to do," says Castle. "Paralyzed Veterans of America will continue to work toward accessibility for all Americans with disabilities."
Check pva.org/travel for more tips, resources and to share your travel story.
(BPT) - Whether it's a quick weekend away or a weeklong adventure, family travel is a great way to bond and create lifelong memories. However, if you have an infant, you may be hesitant to pack all those bags and venture to the unknown.
"With their love of a set schedule and the familiar, plus loads of gear, babies are natural homebodies," says Sandra Gordon, baby safety expert and blogger at www.babyproductsmom.com. "Still, they can be surprisingly adaptable and getting out and about can be loads of fun for everyone. The trick is to be prepared so you can enjoy the journey and the destination."
Gordon offers eight tips and tricks that make infant travel easy so everyone can have an enjoyable vacation:
Prepare the diaper bag
The diaper bag is your go-to throughout your trip. Pack everything your baby might need including diapers, wipes, a change of clothes, snacks, toys, a pacifier, feeding supplies, infant formula and lots of Ziploc bags for dirty bottles, clothes, etc. An extra shirt for yourself is a smart addition as well, just in case.
Pack pre-measured, dry powder baby formula
Whether on the plane or out for the day, pack two to four bottles with pre-measured, dry baby formula that you can mix with bottled water at feeding time. To save up to 50 percent, buy store brand infant formula. All infant formula sold in the United States is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, so store brand formula must meet the same FDA standards as the big advertised brands. It's available wherever infant formula is sold, such as Wal-Mart, Sam's Club and Target.
Bring a prepared bottle
Bring a prepared bottle for the airport; it can help keep your baby content during the lengthy check-in process. It's also a must during takeoff to relieve ear pressure. You can take more than 3.4 ounces of infant formula or breast milk through airport security. Tell the transportation security officer that you have medically necessary liquids at the beginning of the checkpoint screening process. Visit the TSA for more info on flying with children.
Split up your stuff
When packing bags you plan to check at the airport, split up the contents so that each suitcase has everyone's clothes in it, including your baby's. That way if a bag gets lost, everyone will have something to wear for the next few days until your bag is found. Essentials such as formula, medicine, etc. should be packed in your carry-on.
Stick to baby's schedule
Babies rely on a schedule so there's no need to disrupt it when on vacation. Try travelling around nap time for domestic flights or at bedtime for international flights. Be sure to bring along her favorite stuffed animal or blanket that she normally sleeps with so there's something familiar to sooth her. Baby can sleep and you can relax.
Avoid popular travel times
Avoid crowds and save money by travelling on slower days. The day prior to holidays will always be hectic, so opt to fly two to three days before or after to enjoy a slower airport plus cheaper ticket prices. For non-holiday travel, avoid early-morning flights on weekdays so you and your baby don't have to compete with harried business travelers.
If you can't bring all your gear when travelling, consider renting. Ask your hotel about rental options in the area so you can have everything you need to make baby feel comfortable without having to lug items across the country. It is an extra cost, but it also saves you the cost of having to check bulky items on the plane.
Eat in or eat out early
Book a hotel with a kitchen so you can make baby-friendly foods in a comfortable space. When you do want to eat out, remember that prime time for eating out with infants, toddlers and preschoolers is Sunday through Wednesday before standard lunch or dinner times (11:30 a.m. or 5:30 p.m.). Restaurants are less crowded and you'll get faster service.
Travelling with a baby gets easier every time you do it. With these tips you'll satisfy your wanderlust without worry, plus your little one will have a great time.
Interested in Publishing on The Travel Idea?
Send your query to the Publisher today!