Traveling always calls for some planning. With a power wheelchair, the number of factors to consider increases exponentially. Not only is it a different climate and environment, you could be traveling by car, train, or plane! Power wheelchairs support clients to do the things they want to do. This is just as important when traveling to maximize independence away from home.
How will the wheelchair be transported in a vehicle?
If a client sits in the wheelchair during vehicle travel, it's recommended the wheelchair be fitted with transit tie-down points and meet crash test standards.
If the client transfers into the vehicle seat, consider if the chair disassembles or folds to stow. Some power wheelchairs, such as the QUICKIE Q50 R Carbon, are lightweight and compact enough to be folded down for easy storage in a car or taxi.
How suited is the wheelchair for the environments it will encounter?
The position of the drive wheel is vital - check out our Drive Wheel Position resource for full details on how this influences drive performance.
How much battery capacity is needed?
QUICKIE's Q-series power wheelchairs have 25-40 km range on a full charge, depending on model, battery life, battery charge, and environmental conditions. Plan ahead so travel can be maximized.
How programmable is the wheelchair to meet these needs?
Power wheelchairs offer personalized programming to adjust sensitivity, speed, acceleration, and more, to match the user's preferences and ability. Make sure that the chair is programmed for safe and easy driving in unfamiliar environments.
Flying to a vacation destination
When booking the flight, travelers should notify the airline of their wheelchair usage and their needs while at the airport. Many airlines provide forms with the necessary information. Always follow the advice and direction of the airline.
To assist, the owner's manual is a great resource to have handy. It's a good idea to remove the joystick, headrest, and other important removable parts. Prepare a small carry-on bag to store these items. The chair and components should be labeled with contact details.
Sunrise Medical has also created downloadable and printable travel tags! These feature a large 'Warning' tag to support safe handling, plus a detailed information tag. This will help ensure everything comes along on the vacation!
Is assistance required at the airport?
If assistance is required, the airline can provide guidance on how to access this service. Most airlines require at least 48 hours' notice.
Case Study - QUICKIE Q50 R Carbon
Let's consider traveling with a QUICKIE Q50 R Carbon folding power wheelchair.
The Q50 R Carbon is fabricated from premium carbon fibre. It weighs a mere 32 lbs., so it's easy to load. Foldable in seconds, it stores snugly away in the tightest of places. Simply release the clip and the back will fold down. It's so compact, it will fit into the smallest of car trunks, closets, or travel compartments.
At the beginning of the day, determine if the Q50 R Carbon's second battery is required for the full 24 km range. This second battery has an easy storage slot under the seat. Even just one compact portable battery provides 12 km of range and can also be easily recharged at any power outlet.
The Q50 R Carbon has received International Air Transport Association (IATA) travel approval. However, the final decision rests with the pilot and their crew and will still require the airline's approval prior to travel.
Whether it's a short getaway, a business trip, or a family visit, it's important to prepare clients so they can get the most out of their travel!
BS, MPT, ATP, SMS - Clinical Education Manager, Asia-Pacific