Travelling Solo With a Disability

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.

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.

Disability Acts

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.

Accommodations

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.

When travelling solo with a disability, book accommodations well in advance and make sure it's easily accessible
Book accommodations in an accessible area

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.

JOIN ME FOR MORE SOLO TRAVEL TIPS

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

Wheelchairs

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.

Medications

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.

Travel Insurance

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.

Contact a tour group for a guided tour specializing in disabilities when you are travelling alone
Join a guided tour to get the most out of your vacation

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.

Solo travellers with a disability are independent and proud of their accomplishments.  If they decline assistance don't take it personally
If you need help, let people help. If you don’t need help, politely decline ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

Kelly xoxo

SAVE TO SEE HOW YOU CAN TRAVEL ALONE WITH A DISABILITY

30 thoughts on “Travelling Solo With a Disability

  1. MIchele

    This was a great post. I think your last paragraph was perfect for everyone, “take it slow, donโ€™t over-book your vacation, and remain positive.” Awesome advice for us all.

    Liked by 1 person

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  4. Trea at Map Her Miles

    Wow how fascinating and such a great read! My neighbour is always saying how she doesn’t like to travel anymore because she feels like she’s a burden to others, with being visually impaired. I’m going to pass this post on to her if you don’t mind!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Brittany

    Thank you so much for sharing your perspective on this topic! I think you’ve offered some excellent advice that we can all learn from. I loved what you said about there still being “nice people” out there who are willing to lend a helping hand, and such a good reminder to always offer the help – even if it’s not needed! Better to receive a “no thank you” than to never have asked at all. Great read!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just One Passport

      I completely agree about the nice people. I also have found that this is a topic that’s never written about. After helping my 89 year old father (who has 1 leg) plan his trips, I realized how much more involved the planning stage was and it made me more sensitive to the obstacles that people with disabilities face, not just in travel, but everyday life.

      Like

  6. Leah

    This was a really great read! I used to travel a lot with my disabled grandad and it really opened my eyes to how difficult certain things can be! Planes and boats seem to be the easiest but buses and trains tend to be a struggle! Some great advice will be passing on some tips to him ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  7. kmfiswriting

    Solo travel is liberating for people of all ages and abilities. This is a great guide on how to travel solo with disabilities.

    Like

  8. Erin

    I’ve worked a lot with people with disabilities. It is something we don’t often blog enough on. I’m so glad you covered it – because it truly helps better prepare. Excellent article! Thank you for sharing good advice.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Agnes

    It’s great that you bring up such an important and challenging topic as travel for people with disabilities. You are giving valuable and beneficial tips on organizing such a trip. It is often a difficult barrier to overcome, but with your advice, many people will find it worth traveling and making dreams come true, even if they move in a wheelchair. For sure, purchasing travel insurance is a crucial step. Most airlines offer great assistance for travelers with disabilities, making the journey easier.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just One Passport

      After arranging travel for my disabled father, I realized how different planning was for these people. but I also realized that it could still be done. My hope is that if people want to travel, they can, regardless of physical capabilities.

      Like

  10. Renee

    Creating and living in an inclusive world is the ultimate goal. We are all unique with different abilities and travelling should be accessible to everyone. Great tips you shared for those that are travelling solo or person with disabilities- the passion for travel should have no limits.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hannah Padilla

    I had no idea you couldn’t use your own wheelchair while flying. I guess it makes sense if airports and planes have certain specifications. This is a wonderful post to inspire those with disabilities (and to an extent, chronic illness like myself) to still purse their travel dreams โค

    Liked by 1 person

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