Not long ago, I had a comment on one of my posts asking, “Aren’t you too old to travel solo?”
I was surprised and quite shocked by the naivety of this young lady. Solo travel is not just for the younger generation. In fact, recent studies have shown that solo travel among the baby boomer generation has soared.
The boomer generation are mostly now empty-nesters, retired, or semi-retired, and have the financial resources to travel more frequently. Many of these boomers travel alone, either by choice or by life just happening. Whatever the reason is for the increase in solo travel, the point is that YES older people can and do travel alone.
While solo travel among the older generation is on the rise, some seniors may be finding it a little more physically difficult to travel on their own. In fact, one in four people in the United States travel with some form of disability. Proof that solo travel in your golden years can be done, it just means that there are more things that have to be taken into consideration.
This post is written from personal experience by planning for a disabled person to travel alone and is not to be taken as medical and/or professional advice.
When planning your solo vacation, it is important to remember that no two disabilities are created equal. Each person knows his or her physical capabilities and limitations.
TRAVELLING ALONE WITH A DISABILITY
- Doctor Approval
- Plan, Plan, Plan, and Plan Again
- Choosing a Destination
- Solo Cruising With a Disability
- Flying With a Disability
- Travel Insurance
- Independent Travel With a Disability
- Easy to Pack Items
- People Want to be Helpful
- Can a Disabled Person Travel Solo?
Get Travel Clearance From Your Doctor
It doesn’t matter what your disability, it is always important to obtain clearance from your doctor before you even begin to plan your travel. He or she may also be able to give you a few medical tips in the case that an emergency arises during your trip.
Plan, Plan, Plan and Plan Again
Gone are the days of just winging it when you are travelling alone with a disability. Preparing for your getaway when you have a disability takes a lot more planning than it would for the traveller without a disability, and in addition, there are even more things that you have to consider. If you are a senior with a physical disability, but still want to travel alone (especially internationally), then I would recommend using a travel agent or tour group who specializes in solo travel for people with disabilities.
Choosing a Destination When Travelling Solo With a Disability
When choosing your destination during the planning stage of a solo trip, it is important to keep in mind that not all destinations are disability friendly. This not only includes the actual destination, but also the accommodations, restaurants, washrooms, museums, etc.
It is important to round up as much information as you can prior to leaving on your trip and to schedule your holiday accordingly. If your mobility is severely impaired, this is definitely when a tour group specializing in travelling with a disability would be recommended.
Many developed countries have implemented various forms of a Disability Act. While these Acts do not solve all problems for the disabled traveller, choosing a country that has such an Act implemented will ensure that accommodation for disabled persons has at least been considered.
If you are a senior travelling solo and you are confined to a wheelchair most of the time, it is important to book your accommodations well in advance of your planned travel date. Not all resorts, hotels, or Airbnb’s are wheelchair accessible. If you are able to find accommodations with accessible rooms, keep in mind that there will be a limited amount of accessible rooms.
It is also important to remember to book your accommodations in an accessible part of town (not on top of a cliff). The sooner you book your accommodations, the better in order to avoid disappointment.
Cruising Solo With a Disability
The cruise lines have been the pioneers in accommodating people with a disability. When booking your cruise, contact your cruise line directly to book an accessible cabin, as well as a motorized wheelchair to help you navigate the ship. The ships are huge and have many stairs, so if you have any type of disability that impairs your walking mobility, this is an essential step when planning a solo cruise.
In my humble opinion, for people with severe mobility issues, a cruise is the best choice, especially for those travelling alone.
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Flying With a Disability
The majority of airlines are well equipped and will make every attempt to accommodate travellers with a disability. These are only some of the “perks” offered to travellers flying with a disability by Air Canada:
- assistance provided throughout the process
- assistance with check-in
- assistance clearing customs
- assistance to the boarding gate
- assistance boarding and disembarking the plane
- attending to special needs while onboard the plane
- assistance with carry-on luggage
- assistance with boarder clearance when arriving at your destination
- assistance retrieving checked luggage
- assistance to public area of destination
- assistance to transportation
It is important to note that most airlines won’t allow you to use your own wheelchair on the plane. You will have to transfer to a wheelchair used by the airport and your wheelchair will be stowed in a special compartment of the plane.
JUST ONE TIP: If you don’t want to lug your own assistive devices on your trip, arrange for a rental at your destination
If you are travelling with a disability, it is important to contact the airline directly to see what assistance they have available for solo travellers who have a physical disability.
Once you’ve chosen your destination and if you take medications, it is extremely important to see what medications are allowed and not allowed. I recommend doing this in enough time so that you are able to consult with your doctor to see if there is alternative medicine that you could take.
Purchasing travel insurance is always an important step, but it is even more important when travelling alone as a senior with a disability. Even if you are employed and you have insurance through your employer, it is always a good idea to purchase additional insurance.
Independent Solo Travel With a Disability
If you choose to plan your own vacation, that’s awesome! Keep in mind that there is nothing wrong with, and in fact it’s beneficial, to arrange guided tours so that you can see all of the sites. The guide will be familiar with the venues that you want to visit and will know if they have the proper means for you to explore the venue to the fullest. Contacting a tour guide prior to your departure will give you the opportunity to ask all the questions you need to in order to help make your decision on things to see and do.
Easy to Pack Items That Will Help You to be a Little More Independent While You are Travelling Alone
There are Still Nice People Out There
I know, during these difficult times most of us have lost complete faith in people, but it is important to remember that there is still good out there.
When travelling solo with a disability, you will notice that people are eager to “help”. If you need the help, take it. If you don’t need the help, graciously decline. The majority of disabled people are use to doing things for themselves and for the most part are completely independent (and at times stubborn), but people without a disability don’t understand the pride and independence that you rightfully have as a person with a disability. On the flip side, if you offer help to a person with a disability and they decline, don’t think that they are being rude or take it personally. Just know that they are able to do it themselves and don’t want any special treatment because of their disability.
Is a Disabled Person Able to Travel Solo?
So, as you can see, not only is a senior able to travel alone, but disabled seniors can and do also travel by themselves. While seniors with disabilities may have to make certain compromises when planning solo travel, it is important to remember that it is their right to travel alone. Living with a disability is their life and they have learned to be self-sufficient and independent.
If you are disabled, and a senior, remember to take it slow, don’t over-book your vacation, and remain positive. You will encounter certain challenges, but this is what will make solo travelling with a disability so rewarding. If you want it….go for it! I will be your biggest cheerleader!
SAFE TRAVELS 🙂
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