Traveling with a Prosthesis – Navigating Airport Security, Road Trips, and Unfamiliar Destinations
It’s that time of year again when we pack up and get out of town for vacation. If you are anticipating a flight or getting on the (not so) open road, traveling with a prosthesis takes some extra preparation and planning. Whether you are staying in the U.S. or traveling abroad, while we can’t promise a stress-free traveling experience, we can help avoid some common challenges.
Before You Go
You’ll want to inspect your prosthesis at least a month before you travel. If you see any cracks, tears, loose parts, or if the fit has changed, see your prosthetist to make sure it is in top shape. Also, visit your prosthetist for guidance and any recommended equipment if you will be engaging in special or prolonged activity. Not only does he/she know you and your prosthesis best, the last thing you want to do is look for a prosthetist while you’re on vacation far from home.
When you are booking accommodations, think about accessibility and any special needs. Does the hotel have elevators? Are there clear and level pathways at your outdoor camping area? What special transportation might you need? A travel professional can be a tremendous help here, especially if your plans include travel abroad.
To be sure you’ll be ready for everything and to minimize downtime, you’ll want to keep your prosthesis and limb clean and dry in all conditions. Consider your activity, diet, along with environmental and weather conditions in your destination and identify potential issues (dryness, perspiration, swelling, or dry skin). Put together a “rescue kit” with such products as antiperspirants, creams and lotions, baby powder (simple cornstarch), topical antibiotic, skin dressings, cleansers and cleansing wipes. (Tip: Many of these products are available in convenient travel sizes.) Make sure you have the right prosthetic supplies including extra socks and liners, a travel repair kit for small adjustments, and any special accessories you might need for planned activities (swimming or horseback riding i.e.). Don’t forget extra batteries or power adapters for other countries if you have an electronic device.
If You’re Flying
It’s well established that flying greatly increases the risk of developing blood clots, especially for those with diabetes, circulation issues, or obesity. Have a plan for counteracting the effects of prolonged sitting. This article will help.
Know TSA requirements and your rights when it comes to going through airport security with your prosthesis. While the prosthetic limb is subject to extra scrutiny, you do not need to remove your prosthesis and are entitled to privacy at any time you wish to protect your dignity. When obtaining your seat assignment on the plane, you’ll want to consider legroom and any special accommodations you’ll need. Above all, ask for what you need. Communication goes a long way to prevent misunderstandings or discomfort. For more detailed information check out our previous blog post on Traveling with a Prosthetic Limb.
With a little planning and preparation, you can live your vacation to its fullest. Want some inspiration? Check out the incredible East African travel tales of Breeanna Elliott, an Africanist working at Boston University who also happens to be an amputee.