“It is better to travel well than to arrive.” – Buddha
This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to go on another adventure. For my mother’s birthday, my sister and I planned a surprise trip to British Columbia to go on some wine tours. The weather was balmy and sunny and we had an amazing time. I sat back this week and thought about how blessed I was to have so many ways to make travel easier for myself. Through my 18 year journey with MS, I have researched and been lucky enough to have people let me know about certain programs that can assist people with disabilities to still explore our wondrous world safely and with limited stress. From talking to others, I have realized that many people are not aware of how many things are out there to provide help. So, I thought I would highlight some that may help you on your journey.
Although there are many programs out there, they are not widely publicized. Many people who live with health limitations, do not have the energy to seek out these resources. There are many times when managing doctors appointments, maintaining your home and friendships need to take precedent. I wanted to make this a little easier on people. I feel travel is so important to everyone as it allows you to go to a different space and to get your mind off of your struggles for a period of time. I hope you find these links useful. Keep in mind, that I live in Canada so all of these programs are in Canada. However, I am sure there are others that exist in other areas.
- Westjet Programs
Westjet is a Canadian Airline that has been around for many years and has greatly expanded in which areas they travel to. I love travelling with them and they always provide amazing hospitality. I have flown with them to Mexico and the States and never had any issues. About 5 years ago, I started having significant issues with travel. I have a hard time especially if I have to change gates when I am struggling with cognition and stopped travelling because it was so worrisome. A friend of my family recommended that I look into a couple of programs through Westjet that may help.
- One seat one fare. Travel Attendant This program is only relevant for flights within Canada. It allows the person travelling with you to be your care-giver and only pay the taxes for their flight. It is for people like myself who can no longer travel alone. You must require more assistance than the airline attendants can provide. It makes travel easier for me by allowing someone to travel with me without the additional seat charges. If I need a wheelchair, my attendant can push me in it and help me get through security. There is paperwork that needs to be filled out by your doctor, but it is a great program that helps me feel more comfortable on flights.
- Medical Seating. Medical Seating This program is available on all Westjet flights. Again, medical forms need to be filled out by your doctor, but they allow for accommodations to seating without an additional charge. I have issues with spasticity ad cramping in my legs on flights, so I am seated in the first few rows that have additional leg space for the same price as the seats in economy. This really helps me out on longer flights. I have called other airlines when travelling to other areas and everyone I called has a similar program to help people out to make travel accessible for all.
You can be approved for both or one of these programs. Chat with your doctor about the forms to see if you would be a good candidate for these programs.
- Access Card Access Card This card is funded by Easter Seals in Ontario and can be used at numerous attractions in Canada as well as movie theaters. It also is a plan that allows entrance for your caregiver for no cost. I use this card all the time to go to movie theaters as well as attractions such as the Calgary Zoo and the Telus World of Science in Edmonton. There is list on the site for facilities that accept the pass.
I will continue to provide links to other programs that I find that could help out. I am sure there is also a wealth of information out there from people who have found other things to help out. If you have any that you know of, please feel free to comment and I will make a list for people to access. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. What I hope is that this blog can provide a community where we can share resources and make everyone’s life a little easier. Sometimes all it takes, is to ask and there are people willing to help.
Happy travels wherever your road may take you!