How To Travel Abroad With A Disability And/Or Chronic Illness

As a severely chronically ill person who is disabled as a result of how bad the chronic illnesses affect me, people often wonder how I can travel abroad when I can’t walk very far or stand more than a very short time before I have to sit.
This is how I do it, and this is how you can do it too!

Lots of disabled and chronically ill people don’t travel, not because they can’t afford to, but because they can’t walk far or stand long and think they won’t enjoy their vacation.

You don’t have to walk to enjoy the sights. You just need to choose where you are going better.
Sure there are some places you may not be able to visit, but for most, as long as you plan in advance and check the attraction site for accessibility, you can go to most places.

These are the things I look for when planning and booking my trip. Some may surprise you.
Obviously all disabilities are different so this may not apply to everyone.

Solo or With Someone?

This is a big decision and depending on your disability, you may not have a choice.

I need assistance with many things, BUT I still prefer to travel solo. I will do this as long as I physically can, then I will have to travel with someone for the assistance.

I usually hire a car and use that for accessibility as many types of public transport aren’t an option for me due to the amount of walking you have to do, such as in underground/subways where you have to walk far to get to the platform and same again when you disembark. Buses are more accessible for me than subways as you don’t have to walk as far.

Solo lets you do what YOU want. You don’t have to think what the other person will want to do. You only worry about yourself and what you want.
In day to day life, I don’t leave the house as there is no good public transport here and I can’t afford a car as I can’t work. So my trips are the total opposite of regular day to day life for me. I have independence and freedom as I have a car.

I travel solo even though I can barely walk or stand long and need assistance in train stations and airports. This is because I like to do a lot of sightseeing from a rental car.
If I travelled with someone, they would be bored for a lot of my trip as I sightsee from my car so much. I drive a lot!

Finding where to travel to:

Accessibility is number 1 for me. So when researching where I want to travel to, I have to see what accessibility is like in places I would visit and what assistance is like at the airport for example as I need a wheelchair throughout the airport.

Find attractions you are interested in, then check accessibility to see if you can go without issues. Some places have great accessibility and others can have none.

If is a flat city (hills change things) for just a couple of days with good public transport where I could plan with minimal walking, then I would be able to book it.

Getting Around:

If is a flat city (I can’t do hills on foot) for just a couple of days with good public transport where I could plan with minimal walking, then I would be able to book it.

If I am planning on staying somewhere longer and plan to visit places outside of cities, such as say the USA, then I would rent a car and accessibility would be mostly from my car, so I would be able to book anywhere that I can have a rental car and sightsee from the car.

If you plan to use public transport, research travel passes in the country you are in, as some will let you save money by having a daily/weekly/monthly pass.

Avoiding Walking:

As I can’t walk very far at all, nor stand very long, I avoid walking wherever possible!
Obviously your disability will be different from mine, but I personally avoid walking most of the time as it is just so painful and difficult for me.

I can’t push myself in a manual wheelchair due to disability and I can’t afford an electric wheelchair that I could take abroad with me.

Some places such as some theme parks and even some beaches will allow you to hire a wheelchair, so if you have someone with you, they can push you along to save you walking. This is helpful for ambulatory wheelchair users, such as myself.

I use a rental car not just as a way to get from A to B, but also kind of like a big scooter in a way! Say I am at a state or national park that has roads through it, I would sightsee from my car rather than from foot. I am in the car most of the time.
This might not be something you would want, but this is the only way I can sightsee in many places as I just can’t walk that far.

I hope that these tips helped you out and gave you some ideas! Let me know in the comments if they help.

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1 Comment

  1. These are really good things to consider when travelling abroad. I went interrailing last June with my best friend and I have endometriosis. I was hoping not to get a flare-up, but it happened in my second stop. I had to keep sitting down while she looked around which was not ideal. However, I am very lucky that she was so understanding!

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