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How to make summer travel plans if you have a disability

Posted at 4:36 PM, Jun 28, 2024

SALT LAKE CITY — What is it like to travel with a disability? For the more than 573,000 people in Utah who have a disability, there are some helpful tips to travel with ease this summer, whether it's sticking around the state or heading elsewhere.

When it comes to traveling with a disability, tourism expert Mark Raymond, Jr. speaks from personal experience and is why he founded the Split Second Foundation.

“The mission of the Split Second Foundation is to provide comprehensive care, resources, education and advocacy to families impacted by disabilities,” he said. “What I learned through my experience having a disabling condition and accident, was there just weren’t enough community resources to really help me with all of what I needed in terms of living a high quality of life.”

A diving accident left Mark in a wheelchair, but he, like others in his position, have had to learn how to travel differently.

It means lots of planning ahead.

“When I think about visiting states like Utah and cities like Salt Lake City, I’m always planning every layer of the trip, from the flight, to the vehicle that’s going to pick me up, the hotel and making sure I have the right room and then getting into the attractions,” Raymond explained.

In the U.S., the Air Carrier Access Act prohibits airlines from discriminating against people with disabilities, but outside the country, most of those regulations are not enforced, so be prepared if traveling abroad.

Anyone encountering issues stateside should follow Raymond's advice.

“Call the airlines and let them know what that challenge is so I can get my ADA seat, because a lot of times, I need a special chair to get on the plane, which is an aisle chair,” he shared. “Then I’m calling the transportation company to make sure that they have a wheelchair-accessible vehicle so I don’t have any hiccups when I do arrive. Then I’m calling the hotel, letting them know that I need a wheelchair-accessible room with a roll in shower.”

It might be easy enough to go sightseeing, but what if you want to get a little more adventurous?

“I’m calling the attractions, whether it’s a ski resort or a hiking trail or a national park," Raymond said, "just to see what accommodations they have available and those are the recommendations I make to everybody, no matter where you’re going, whether to the mountains or to the beach.”

Something else you’ll want to keep in mind involves making sure there's a durable medical equipment provider in whatever city that you’re traveling in case something happens.

There are organizations like the Split Second Foundation in every state, and all can be contacted to help you plan a trip.

CLICK HERE for disability information for travelers.

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