Welcome to part two of our travel series, where we will be covering a variety of topics on travel and access that will better prepare you for traveling with individuals with disabilities.
You can read more on this topic in the following articles in the series:

Don’t forget to bookmark this page so you can follow the series and come back to it for easy reference when you need a refresher.

Traveling with access to consistent and high-quality medical care is much easier today than it was for previous generations of travelers. Still, added to all of the excitement of travel, moving from place to place with a medical condition that requires attention can pose challenges. Traveling with a child or family member with a medical difficulty might mean some additional planning.

Travelers have divers medical requirements, personal preferences and comfort needs. Like any aspect of trip planning, making plans for access to daily or emergency care can help ensure a successful voyage.

Here are some considerations as you plan your adventures:

If your child has complex medical needs, consider checking in with your personal physician before you travel. Confirm that everyone is healthy enough to travel and heed the doctor’s advice and precautions to ensure a safe and happy trip.

It’s also advisable to call your health insurance company to inquire about coverage when you travel, especially if your trip takes you overseas.
In some circumstances, coverage is limited, comes with restrictions or has requirements for services rendered. Consider keeping a record of your call including time, date and the name of the contact at the company with details of coverage provided to you. If you do have to use your medical insurance, follow the instructions you were given to access your policy. A call for information to the company may reveal some little-known benefits or restrictions that will inform your decisions when you are on the road.

Are food allergies a concern for your child or family? The good news is that many people share the same food sensitivities, intolerances or allergies that require daily monitoring. Your primary care physician can help you create an allergy prevention plan as well as an allergy intervention plan for times when prevention is unsuccessful. A thorough plan will include both symbol-supported and translated lists of allergens. Also, it’s important to keep travel partners or companions in the loop about both prevention and intervention plans.

Does your plan include a medical bracelet? Are there over-the-counter medications to pack? Does the primary care physician want to include prescription medications or injections? Are there any special instructions for medical personnel if all other plans cannot calm the reaction?

Try creating some text and symbol-supported communication boards about your specific medical concerns in case of a medical event. Symbols could make emergency communication easier in a difficult situation far from home, especially when language barriers might be an issue. Again, consider involving travel partners or companions in communication plans about your daily or emergency medical care.

Some hotels, theme parks and resorts have physicians on staff or on call for visitors. A call to the venue will help you understand what the options are in case of an emergency. No one wants to use these services, but it is helpful and reassuring to know up front if they exist and what the terms of use are.

If possible, travel with slightly more prescription medication or supplies than you need for the length of the trip in case of unexpected changes in plans. If extra medication is not possible for some reason, many chain pharmacies in the U.S. can transfer prescriptions to other locations. A quick call to your pharmacy prior to departure can help you understand the options.

Flying with oxygen requires a bit of planning, but it can be done. There are requirements for the oxygen as well as battery life for an oxygen concentrator on an airplane. All of these rules are for passenger safety, of course. Check with the airline and with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for the most updated requirements.

With heightened awareness of travelers’ diverse needs, accessing medical care during travel is easier today than in years past, but there are ways to make it even better. It may be helpful to print and use some personal communication supports from SymbolStix PRIMETM as part of your medical support package for you or your child. Encourage your child to get involved using symbol-supported materials as well!

Finally, consider reviewing hotels and venues on travel sites and adding ratings for accessibility and accommodations. Other travelers will appreciate and benefit from your experiences!

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About the Author
Anne Johnson‑Oliss has spent more than 20 years in the special education field as a teacher, program supervisor, sales and marketing professional, consultant and business leader. In addition to teaching at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, Anne is an experienced presenter at national and international forums who has authored five books and two CDs. Anne holds several certifications in education and business, and earned a Master of Education degree from Wright State University.