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While holidays are exciting, planning your travel can often be a bit stressful. If you’re an older person needing support or have a disability, we have some helpful tips to travel with ease.
1. Have a plan
You might have already decided on where to go and what to pack. But it’s a good idea to plan for how you will navigate travel as well.
An independent support worker on Mable can help you with this in many ways:
- Helping you pack and unpack your bags
- Driving you from and to the airport
- Assisting you with check in
- Calling the airline or hotel staff about accessibility requirements. Note that some airlines will ask you to confirm airport assistance at least 48 hours ahead of your flight.
Find out how Mable client Caitlyn booked her support worker through Mable to make her trip fun.
If relevant, notify Centrelink and the NDIS if you are going abroad. Check if your travel insurance includes medical.
2. Be prepared for airport chaos
Holiday times usually mean longer airport wait times, flight cancellations and lost luggage.
For this reason, if possible, consider road travel for shorter distances within Australia. Again, you can book an independent support worker through Mable to accompany you on a road trip.
If flying, keep these things in mind:
- Pack food, a water bottle, dog snacks if you have an assistance dog, entertainment such as books and tablets
- Pack carry-on with essentials like medications, prescriptions, device chargers and anything else you might need if not checking in luggage, or if your checked bag goes missing
- It’s a good idea to also check items not allowed in carry-on (such as certain batteries for mobility aids)
- If checking-in luggage and travelling with others, separate belongings between bags. That way, if one bag goes missing, you won’t lose all your things
- Pop an Apple AirTag or other tracking device such as a Tile in your checked bags
- Bring mobility aids or use the airport wheelchair if standing is difficult
- Allow plenty of time, especially if you require staff assistance or have mobility aids to check in.
3. Keep tech and support aids
Here are some examples of aids that can be helpful while travelling:
- Noise-cancelling headphones
- Walkers and airport wheelchairs (these can be returned at boarding)
- Tablets loaded with content for yourself or your child (if they have support needs)
- A power board in your carry-on to charge phones, powered wheelchairs, CPAP (Continuous positive airway pressure) machines, hearing aids
- A collapsible walking stick.
You could create and share a checklist of these things with your support worker.
4. Make your invisible disability visible
For those with invisible disabilities, the sunflower airport lanyard is really helpful.
Making staff aware of conditions such as autism, hearing impairment, dementia and others can be helpful.
For example, airport staff might allow a person wearing this lanyard priority through security to help reduce sensory stress.
5. Know and label mobility aids
Not all mobility aids such as wheelchairs can be taken on the plane. You’ll need to call the airline to check their requirements such as dimensions, weight and battery type, if yours has one.
Labelling all mobility aids such as wheelchairs, walkers or scooters will also help staff know how to handle these without damaging them.
For example, ‘Handle with care’, ‘Do not lift here’, ‘Fold here’, ‘Property of John Smith – flight number xxx’ will be helpful.
6. Travel tips for kids with autism
If travelling with your child with autism, prepare them for the trip by creating a social story.
This should explain with pictures the steps involved when catching a plane or going to new places.
You can find and book independent support workers trained in autism support on Mable.
7. Be COVID smart
Lastly, in these times it’s always smart to don a mask (N95 is recommended for travel) and practise good hand hygiene and social distancing.
The last thing you want is for COVID to ruin your trip!
Make sure you and your support worker maintain COVID-safe practices during the support session.