Traveling with a Disability: Tips for Adults with Disabilities & Caregivers

Three friends push a wheelchair on a dock near the ocean.

The ACAA, or the Air Carrier Access Act, is a federal law that prohibits any discrimination from airlines against people with disabilities. The law exists because U.S. lawmakers recognized that everyone should be able to travel, whether it’s for leisure or out of necessity, even those traveling with disabilities. 

That said, there are still some steps you can take to ensure that the process goes well for you and the people you’re traveling with. Here, note our list explaining how to travel with a disability and get in touch with us if you have any further questions that we can clarify.


If Flying, Contact TSA Cares

If you will be flying with disabilities, or if you will have medication that you will need administered or any other special circumstances, be sure to contact TSA Cares by filling out this form or, if your flight is in the next 72 hours, by calling this number: (855) 787-2227.

TSA Cares helps through the screening checkpoint when your belongings are checked. They can help with things like medical equipment that doesn’t meet screening guidelines, difficulties with hearing and understanding instructions, service animals, and more. 

That said, once you’ve gone through screening, if you’ll need further assistance getting to your gate or will need attention in-flight, then you must contact your airline.

Call the Airline or Company You Will be Traveling With

Your airline will provide wheelchair assistance if necessary, and they will communicate your needs to stewards and other airline workers.

But remember that your transportation needs don’t stop at the airplane. If you will be taking any buses, cars, or trains and you will have special requirements, then continue setting everything up in advance to guarantee you can travel in comfort. Especially if you are traveling abroad, there may not always be options for accessible transport.

Travel with Necessary Tech and Equipment

Sometimes, it can be easier not to rely on outside industries and instead bring everything that you might need on your own. Here are some options for things you might want to bring, depending, of course, on your or your loved one’s disability:

  • Electric scooter
  • Portable ramp
  • Sound canceling headphones
  • Timed pill dispensers (this is especially helpful if you will be switching time zones)
  • Foldable cane and/ or foldable seat
  • Cleaning wipes
  • A wristband that identifies your condition/ blood type/what to do in case of an emergency
  • Aspercreme pain relief patches

Consider Travel Insurance

Call your medical insurance and let them know about your travel plans. They might have extensive care where you are traveling, or they might tell you that they won’t be able to cover you (if you're traveling abroad, it is unlikely that they will cover you overseas). Instead, get trip insurance for the time you will be traveling. You can find this online or at the airport. 

Give Yourself Lots of Extra Time

There will be slip-ups, there will be unexpected curveballs, and there will be setbacks. Give yourself time to account for the frustrations, and offer yourself grace and patience while you are traveling as well. 

Talk to NeuroNav

NeuroNav offers Independent Facilitation services designed to help people navigate Califonia’s Self-Determination Program with close one-to-one support - and at zero cost to you if you or your loved one is a Regional Center participant. 

If you want to learn more about your rights to a self-determined life as a California resident living with disabilities or as the caregiver of a person with disabilities, get in touch with NeuroNav for a free consultation. We would love to talk about disability travel tips, your needs, your rights, and any other questions you might have about your support services. 

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