7 Useful and Practical Items For the Disabled Traveller

7 Useful Practical Items For The Disabled Traveller - this witch travels accessible travel blog

This list of travel gadgets and items to take on holiday has something for every disabled traveller, and perhaps even those without chronic illness or disability.

I’ve thought long and hard about what has helped me to navigate long haul flights, bouncing locations and unpredictable symptoms. And added some that are likely to help other disabled travellers too, and hopefully me in the future.

Whether you’re going on a long- term jaunt around the world or a weekend break, there are items on this list that are invaluable for making your travel plans as seamless as possible. And I don’t know about you, but I’ll take any hack I can get to make things a little bit easier!

I’ve tried to cover a range of needs, and while you may not need everything on the list, I guarantee that there is more than a handful of items that you will benefit from packing.

So lets get to it, here’s 7 items for the disabled traveller:

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links on my blog are affiliate links. And at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. I have experienced all of the companies that I link to, and recommend them because they are the websites that I myself choose to use, and trust. Please do not spend any money on these sites unless they meet your needs and specifications.  

Bum Bag/ Fannypack

If you ever see me in person when we are travelling, you’ll notice that I always have my bumbag with me! It’s like an extra limb, because ts just so useful in so many ways.

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Firstly and foremost, I use it as a way to keep our passports always close, handy and safe when in transit. There is a pocket in mine that the zip sits on your stomach, it can’t be opened without removing, or me being aware.

If I have trousers with a belt or a tie, I’ll loop them around the strap a few times, so if someone does undo it, they aren’t just slipping away with it. Or I’ll tuck a shirt over the top of the fastening if not.

My bumbag’s second use is as my pharmacy. Let’s face it, if you have a chronic illness, chronic pain, or a disability you want to keep all your medication together in one place. It’s easy access and easy to find.

Sometimes you’ll find that if you’re having a flareup, you don’t want to be rummaging through a large bag!

I do also keep photocopies of my prescriptions in the aforementioned back pocket, just in case security or police question what I’m taking. Not happened yet, but can’t be too safe.

And the final point on why I love them, you don’t really notice you’re carrying anything, because it’s so easy. And bonus: neither do the airlines. It’s kinda like taking an extra bag. I know it’s only small but when you use it for meds you can really pack it out and save a lot of space in your actual bag.

I’ve never had any comments on having too many bags with regards to my bum bag. I would perhaps make sure you have room to squeeze it in somewhere though, just in case you get a jobsworth…

Here’s one of my favourites available now, its been waiting on my wishlist for a while. I may have to get one myself, and retire my purple bag!

Fitness tracker

Now, this may sound like an odd one, and isn’t necessarily just for disabled travellers, but can be applied to daily life and living with a chronic illness.

I can’t take any credit for the idea either! I was scrolling through Pinterest the other day and came across a blog post by Quit Chronic Fatigue, the pin read “7 Pacing Examples that can help Chronic Illness”, and you can view the blog post by clicking here.

It’s a really helpful article, I found, and the last point had me amazed. How have I never thought of that?!

The idea, simply put, is to use your fitness tracker for a few days, to establish how many steps you can do before you start to burn out. Once you’re happy with your average, you then set this figure as your goal.

You do not necessarily try to hit and surpass your goal, as you would conventionally. But instead, when your wrist tells you that you have hit your ‘goal’, your baseline, this is an indicator to you to then slow things down for the rest of the day. It’s effectively a burnout monitor!

Of course, this needs to be used carefully, and within reason. Don’t just stop everything all of a sudden because you hit that number, but instead be aware that you may be about to flare, or lose your energy, whatever happens for you.

And on a similar note, don’t feel discouraged if you hit your fatigue point way before your limit. It’s there as an aid to help manage your illness, and we all know how unpredictable they can be!

But this hack could potentially help many a disabled traveller manage their time and energy reserves a lot better while out on the road.

So I’ve just bought the Garmin VivoActive 4s as pictured above, thanks to my lovely parents for sending me birthday money early. I’ve chosen this one for various reasons. When it arrives and I’ve had chance to use it properly, I plan on doing a post on how I use it to help my illness, and if it’s worth it. So keep your eyes open for that!

Trekinetic Wheelchair

Some of you may be aware, that I have started looking into getting a wheelchair to help me on my worst days, and to enable me to get out of the house a lot more. At the moment I can walk about 50 metres without experiencing pain, so long walks through the woods are off the cards, unless I make provisions for being laid up for at least 2 days after.

I first saw the Trekinetic wheelchair on the Instagram posts of Imogen from threewheelingadventures. Her posts really inspired me to really look for aids and tools that are suitable for me, my needs, and my interests. As our interests are both within travel, I didn’t have to look too far for this one!

The Trekinetic chair looks great, it looks less like a clinical aid, and more like a sporting device, and is available in 200 colours, so there is something for everyone. It also has a ton of features, from a carbon fibre moulded seat to suspension. The chair is available as a Manual or Electric, and both are capable of going on pretty much any surface including beaches, hiking paths and cobbled roads. It could really help some disabled travellers go where they can’t usually go!

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Unlike your usual chair design which features 2 small wheels at the front, and 2 large at the rear, this has 2 large wheels a little more forward than usual, with a third, smaller wheel behind. It totally reinvents how Wheelchairs should look, and work.

When I started researching chairs, I honestly thought that, with technology as advanced as it is, design being the forefront in every sector, and innovation leading the way, that more chairs like the Trekinetic would be available. They seem to have broken the mould, and I hope this paves the way for more innovation and rule breaking around what disability should look like!

I’m in the process of waiting for a consultation, which will happen when the virus lets up. Then it will be a case of seeking funding. But I’m excited to give this chair a whirl, see if it is suitable for me, and see how it can help me live again.

If you are interested in the chair itself, get in touch with them through the book an assessment page on their site, or message through Instagram. I’ve been in touch with them a couple of times, and they are always really friendly and helpful.

Blue Badge

Ok, so not one that you can go out and buy, as such… Though you are charged a nominal fee for printing if successful on application. This is just for those disabled travellers that already have a badge, or need one. If you don’t need one, don’t apply.

Lets cover the most obvious part first. If you are planning to drive on your trip you can use it to park in disabled bays, this is guarenteed for the UK. Hoever, since we are now out of Europe, things get a little hazy on how it can be used aboroad. Even the Gov website just states the following:

“The UK has left the EU.This page will be updated to reflect the latest position.”

Well, thanks for the clarification guys, its only been nearly 4 months since you decided. So if you are going to be using a car abroad, when it’s allowed again of course after social distancing etc, its recommended you check with the country you are visiting, and try to get it in writing if possible.

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Outside of the EU though, a blue badge is still useful in some ways. Taking my badge with me last time to Vietnam made some things so much easier.

I think that maybe this applies more so to people with hidden illnesses and disabilities. I look, on the outside, like a young, fit and healthy woman. I am aware of this, and it really doesn’t make anything easier.

Even with people who speak English fluently, I see the look of confusion on their face, of why do you need help? Now add in a language barrier too?

I was trying to ask for assistance when I got to Hanoi airport to fly home, I had previously spoken to Emirates and they said they’d put a note on my account. I got to the loooong queue for check-in and almost cried. So we headed to the lady stood at the empty first-class queue. We had a confused conversation of a couple of minutes, until I got my blue badge out. I was then checked in and in a chair within seconds.

Hopefully you won’t need to use it, but even if you only need it once, it’s valuable to carry with you!

Menstrual cup

So this one is obviously for my lady readers. If you have a period, and you travel, move to a cup.

I don’t really need to say much more. They’re more comfortable, it’s only one thing to carry, they last for years, need changing every 12 hours instead of 8, and you only need one, making it more eco friendly.

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I’ve added this into my disability list because as you may know, my chronic illness is Endometriosis. In short, endo is where cells that are like the inside of your womb lining grow in other places such as in your pelvis, on your bladder and on ligaments. The pain I live with on a twice-monthly (hey, ovulation is included too!) is excruciating, and that isn’t even the half of it.

Anything I can do to make that time of the month really helps a lot. And I know that Endometriosis sufferers are not the only ones that feel like this. In fact, conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, for example, can too have flare-ups made worse due to your cycle and the hormones it brings with it.

I use the Moon cup, which you can get here. But there’s so many on the market now, so if that doesn’t suit you, something else will!

On skin heat/cooling pads

Heat therapy is a great way to manage pain, and many people use it. The benefits of hot and cold compress help most people with at least some aspect of pain.

For me, I’m rarely without a hot water bottle. Even as I type, it’s 21 degrees Celcius outside and yet my bottle is on my hip! But taking a hot water bottle or an ice pack isn’t really something you can do on a flight, disabled traveller or not.

I’d used heat pads before, but they stuck to the outside of clothing, and honestly, never really did anything.

Then I found these in the pharmacy one day. They are deep heat patches (also available in deep freeze) but you can stick them directly to your skin. No loss in heat transference!

I mean, they don’t heat up as a hot water bottle would, but they definitely helped take the edge off the sharp pain I get in my groin/hip from sitting down too long.

For what they cost, I’d much rather be with them, than without.

Foldable Stick

I’ll admit it, I have no travel photos with my stick. Why? Because I didn’t want it ruining photos. I said it.

Yes, I regret it.

It’s as much part of me now as any other part of me is. And the next trip that we go on my stick will be forefront, and I won’t be ashamed or embarrassed, I promise. It just obviously might take some time to go on the next trip, cheers Corona! I want to be as transparent as possible and help to shift preconceptions and stigma, and hiding won’t help that.

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My walking stick goes most places with me, even if I’m not using it. It’s great for the disabled traveller because it folds up and fits easily into any backpack. Also, it’s pretty light as its hollow, so adds little impact to your bag.

Mine, pictured above is available here. It’s got flowers on a back background and is kinda pretty. It wouldn’t be my first choice in a lineup, but it was also £4.89 with free shipping (to the UK and at the time of writing). So I couldn’t really argue for the price point when I was only trying it to see if it was of benefit to me. (Spoiler: it was.)

Is it the best stick available? I’d go for a definite no on this one. But it is my first stick. And would also make a good backup walking stick too, to keep in the car or by your bed, for example.

I got no help off my doctor to determine if a walking stick would be any help to me, they just told me to buy one and try it, yeah cheers I hadn’t thought of doing that. So, I went for one that had a price point that wouldn’t matter if I didn’t use it. Plus one that looked ok, so that I would pick it up if I did need it.

I’ve just added this baby, pictured above, to my Amazon wishlist. I’m definitely at the point where I can justify spending a little more on a better quality stick now, based on the useage I’ve got from my other.

Plus, I feel like if you make your aids look less clinical and more to suit your fashion style, you’re more likely to own it, embrace it and be confident using it. Of course, that’s only coming from personal experience.

Pick an aid that reflects your style, your personality, and it will become not only a mobility aid, but part of your wardrobe too. Hell, collect more so you can match them to your outfits! Anything that makes you happy is a bonus.

Items for the Disabled Traveller Conclusion

There you have it, 7 items for the disabled traveller. I would have loved to get that number to ten, or more! But honestly, the products and innovation is just not there yet.

As I mentioned above, about how the Trekinetic wheelchair is the only one I’ve seen break boundaries, and barely anyone else is doing it, well, the same can be said for other categories of disability aids.

There are so many cool travel gadgets coming out these days, even just reinventing old stuff, giving it a spruce up. Even with all the modern tech we now have, it seems that the disability market has been forgotten to an extent. It has been left in the past, rarely being reinvented, when so many people could be helped in new and innovative ways.

If you’re looking for some more generalised travel gadgets, not specific to disabled travellers, I will be doing a post on that soon and will add the link to it here when it is live.

I’ll also keep my eye out for new advances and releases, so that I can hopefully do a part two for the disabled traveller, in the not so distant future!

I’d love to hear what you think. Have I missed anything off the list? What helps you as a disabled traveller? Is anything else you’d add? Let me know in the comments below.

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Disclosure: Please note that some of the links on my blog are affiliate links. And at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. I have experienced all of the companies that I link to, and recommend them because they are the websites that I myself choose to use, and trust. Please do not spend any money on these sites unless they meet your needs and specifications.  

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