Guide to Holiday Travel With a Physical Disability

Holiday travel is never quite FUN – especially if you have a physical disability.

No tips and tricks can entirely remove the complexities of traveling when you require mobility assistance. However, this guide can help you avoid some of the most common issues that may arise on your way to visit loved ones this holiday season.


Make an essential packing list – including any medications, mobility aids, and documents you need for your travel. Then, when it comes time to pack, check that list not once. Not twice. But THREE times before you hit the road or runway.

Lugging around a big suitcase when you have a physical disability can be challenging, to say the least. You’ll most likely want to pack light (but not too light). Bring along plenty of weather-appropriate items. And if you won’t be staying in a place where you can run a load of laundry, you’ll want to pack enough for each day you’ll be away.

You may also consider a portable ramp. A portable ramp can help you navigate tricky entrances that don’t meet ADA-accessibility standards – from your relative’s home to restaurants.

Air Travel

There are several questions to consider when planning holiday airplane travel:

  • Will you be okay without a bathroom break for your entire flight? Airplane bathrooms generally aren’t handicap-accessible.

  • How will you protect your wheelchair from damage in the air? We recommend either removing loose, easily-damaged parts and packing them separately OR securing them with bungee cords.

  • Can you request special wheelchair assistance from your airline? Arranging assistance ahead of time will remove some of the stress on the day of your flight.

  • What extra mobility equipment will you need to check? Airlines aren’t allowed to charge extra for mobility equipment, so bring all you need for a safe, comfortable trip.

  • Can you fit all the essentials in a carry-on bag? You’ll want to have your medications and any other essential items on your person in case something happens to your luggage in the air.

Ground Travel

Travel by car, bus, or train can be good alternatives to flying. But ground travel comes with a whole slew of additional questions. 

  • If you are hitching a ride with a loved one, will they have room for all the equipment you need to bring along? 

  • Is a rideshare (like Uber) a plausible option for the distance you’re traveling? 

  • What sort of accessibility accommodations (and discounts) to companies like Amtrak and Greyhound provide?

Overnight Accommodations

Once you know your travel dates, book any necessary hotel rooms as soon as possible. ADA-accessible hotel rooms book up quickly during the holidays, so the longer you wait, the less likely you will be to find a room designed to accommodate physical disabilities.

And while family may mean well when inviting you to stay in their home overnight, you may want to think twice before accepting the invitation.

You’ll be much happier if you choose overnight accommodations that make you feel comfortable and safe. And odds are, your loved ones will want the very same!

HME Locations | Find an HME Supplier Near You!

Need mobility equipment? Our easy-to-use online home medical equipment search tool can help you find a mobility equipment in your area in no time!

Want to

Here is some more mobility-related content.

« Back to Articles