Are you planning a vacation and worried about how you will feel away from home? With a little planning, you can make your trip smoother and lower your anxiety. Here are some suggestions to consider when traveling this summer:

Plan Ahead

Evaluate where you are going and what you will be doing. Do not set unrealistic expectations for yourself. Choose a destination that you will be physically comfortable with.

Once you choose a destination, think about what you’ll need while you are there, like a pharmacy, medical help, a wheelchair or scooter. Will you want to bring your own heating/cooling pads and comfortable pillow?

Have a Plan

Start a list of everything that you will need on vacation and keep it saved on your computer for future reference. Update it when you come home of any items that might be helpful next time.

Keep Drive and Flight Times Reasonable

car_neck_pillowConsider shortening the drive or flight time to your vacation destination. Since sitting in a car or on a plane for more than an hour or two may be painful, make yourself as comfortable as possible with pillows and support. Bring music and movies to keep yourself occupied.

If you’re driving a long distance, consider a long stop half-way to eat lunch and stretch. Take your time, walk around, get the blood flowing through your body, and have a relaxing lunch.

If you’re flying long distances, consider adding a layover to your trip that allows you to take a break, get your body into a different atmosphere, and eat a slow and relaxing dinner.

Air Travel

If you are traveling by air, call the airline and tell them you are disabled. Request a bulkhead aisle seat (first seat in coach) that has the most leg room. Ask the airline what arrangements you need to make to minimize walking in the airports. Even if you do not normally use a wheelchair, request that one be waiting for you at curbside and at the gate of each stop on your trip. Save your energy for sightseeing and other fun activities. Get your ticket and boarding pass ahead of time to minimize the number of times you have to wait in line.

Use luggage with wheels, check most of your bags and only carry on what you absolutely have to have during your flight. Lugging heavy bags through airports will leave you exhausted before you ever arrive at your destination. Be sure to keep all of your medications in their original prescription bottles with you just in case your luggage is lost.


Ask for a room that is on the main floor or near the elevator to minimize the distance you have to drag yourself and your luggage. Be sure to specify the accommodations you need (wheelchair accessible, shower grab bars, smoking/non-smoking).

Theme Parks/Tourist Attractions  

Most theme parks and large tourist attractions are well designed to accommodate handicapped needs. Do not let your pride get in the way of your comfort and fun. Even if you never use a wheelchair in your daily life, consider renting a wheelchair or scooter at theme parks. At most attractions if you are in a wheelchair, you and those accompanying you can go right in without waiting in line.

When you get there

Be realistic about how much activity you can handle each day and try not to overdo it. Schedule time to rest at your hotel or at least allow yourself time to sit down in a cafe. Make your first day a short one. Avoid scheduling any sightseeing the day you arrive.

If possible, plan at least one day of rest after you return home before going back to work or resuming other activities. Although vacations are enjoyable, they can also be tiring.

Looking for some stretches to do while you’re away? Try this yoga video that you can do in bed:

With a little planning, your vacation can be an enjoyable experience. Just remember to take care of yourself when you’re away from home.

Please share any suggestions you have for traveling below.