Traveling with a Wheelchair & What to Pack
The idea of taking long trips may seem daunting but your wheelchair being an essential part of your life should not stop you from enjoying the trip of a lifetime. With some extra planning and preparation, your travel plans could be a little less stressful. Use the list below to help make your next adventure a little easier.
- Review your airlines wheelchair guidelines. Prior to booking your trip, visit the airlines website and review their “accessibility” information specific to wheelchairs. There may be different policies on flying with a personal wheelchair versus stowing a power wheelchair.
- Call your airline once you make your reservation. Airlines have varied sizing requirements for bringing your wheelchair on the plane. Inform the airline that you require wheelchair assistance so they can update your reservation and make arrangements for you once you arrive at the airport.
- Be prepared to provide the dimensions and weight of your wheelchair.
- Mention that you will have medical supplies with you.
- If you have a power wheelchair, attach the manual or give it to the crew when they take your wheelchair. This can help reduce the risk of it being damaged in transport.
- Utilize TSA Care Support. If needed, you can contact TSA Cares to help assist with any questions you may have regarding your travel plans, screening policies, airport procedures and what to expect at security checkpoints. Learn more here.
- Arrive to the airport early. It is recommended to arrive at least 2 hours prior to your departure. When you arrive, request assistance from an airline customer service or check-in attendant. They should be able to assist you with reserving your wheelchair if it needs to be stowed, as well as arranging boarding assistance and ensuring you get to your gate.
- Know your rights. All airport screenings must be conducted with courtesy, dignity and respect. You may request screening in a private area at all U.S. airports and most international destinations. The US Department of Transportation’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division (ACPD) is required to enforce the Air Carrier Act (ACCA), a law making it illegal for airlines to discriminate against passengers because of their disability. Learn more here.
- Consult with your doctor. Whether you are new to cathing or have been cathing for a while it may be a good idea to quickly discuss your cathing routine while you're away.
What to Pack:
- When it comes to supplies – overpack. You know your typical cathing routine best. Calculate how many catheters you use a day and multiply that by the number of days you’ll be away and then add extra. Plan for any potential delays, extensive traffic, or schedule changes in your itinerary.
- Remember all your accessories. Make a list of all the other supplies you use during your self-cathing routine. From cleansing wipes, anti-bacterial gel, to a mirror or lubricant, you’ll want to pack these essentials as well. The number of catheters you pack, should match the number of accessories you use, and then add extra.
- Carry a note from your healthcare professional or a TSA notification card stating your need for intermittent catheter supplies. This can help to avoid any issues or questions as you’re going through security.
- Pack supplies in both your carry-on and your checked luggage. This will ensure you have a backup plan should something happen with your checked luggage. Remember, if you’re using certain supplies, like lubricant, the carry-on liquid limit is 3.4oz or less.
- Keep an extra set of clothes handy. As an additional precaution, knowing you have an extra set of clothing may relieve some feelings of anxiety if you are traveling with urinary incontinence.
- Travel with confidence. You’ve done all your preparation and planning. Enjoy yourself - you’ve got this! If you have any additional questions, you can also call our me+ team for any tips or advice. Call 1-800-422-8811 to speak with a me+ nurse or product specialist today, (M-F, 8:30 AM - 7:00 PM ET).
- TSA Care Support: call (855) 787-2227 | email TSA-ContactCenter@tsa.dhs.gov
- US Department of Transportation: ACCA Law
- US Department of Transportation: Wheelchair and Guided Assistance
- TSA Notification Card: Individuals with Disability and Medical Conditions
- TSA Special Procedures: Disabilities and Medical Conditions