Traveling and SMA
Last updated: July 2022
Traveling has always been a passion of mine. When I was younger I was fortunate enough to travel to Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Cuba, Brazil, India, Vietnam, Malaysia, China, Japan, England, France, Spain, Holland and Italy. It’s always been in my blood.
When I met Mike and as our relationship developed, I was concerned about him not wanting to or even being able to travel. There are still so many places I want to see.
Obviously traveling is not for everyone. This is making an assumption so please don’t take offense, but I imagine there is some hesitation for someone who has SMA to travel.
SMA can make travel difficult
Mike has his comfort in knowing that the bathroom is accessible where we live. We know that the medical supply store where he gets his scooter fixed is nearby. These are all things that a non-disabled person wouldn’t even think of.
Mike has a speaking gig and they wanted him to travel. Unfortunately, before he met me he didn’t have a partner or PCA who could travel with him. After we were dating, we spoke about him taking some speaking jobs out of state. The nice thing about this is everything is paid for.
Traveling as Mike's PCA
We were picked up in a wheelchair accessible limo and dropped off at the airport. Mike was a little nervous about flying at first. It had been a while since he flew. The last time he flew he was able to walk onto the plane.
The airlines were great with helping us board and deboard the plane. Once we arrived at our destination there would be another wheelchair accessible limo to take us to our hotel.
Obviously traveling like this is not the norm. We would never be able to afford limos to escort us back and forth but it did make traveling easier.
We were lucky to travel all around the United States before the pandemic hit. These traveling experiences have given us the confidence that we can travel overseas. This is something we talk about often.
Tips to improve the travel expereince
Some tips that have helped us over the years is always make sure you confirm reservations directly with the hotel. Unfortunately we have run into instances where we made a reservation and the type of room we requested didn’t exist at the location we needed.
When you call to reserve a hotel room you are more than likely speaking to someone in a call center who has never been to the actual hotel. Find the direct number to the hotel you want to stay at and ask to speak to the manager. Let them know your needs. Have them book it directly. Then the day before your arrival, call back and speak to the same manager to confirm the room you reserved will be available.
Another tip is to search for wheelchair repair shops at your destination. Call beforehand and ask if they service your model wheelchair. We have been lucky so far but unfortunately people experience damage while traveling by plane.
Hopefully one day we’ll be able to report on international travel. We follow a really good blog called “Curb Free with Corey Lee.” Give him a follow. He has been all over the world and gives really good insight on accessibility wherever he travels.
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