International Travel

Advice on international travel varies depending on your destination, but there are some general principles to planning trips further afield:

  • Call ahead and if you’re travelling to a country where English is not the first language make sure you get precise information about what is and isn’t provided for adapted equipment or requirements.
  • Be specific about your disability so that your provider can plan ahead to accommodate you.
  • Tell your doctor about your trip and take any advice they may offer about extra measures which may be necessary.
  • Take a doctor’s note and phone number. The note should confirm your condition, medications, potential complications, special needs and other relevant information.
  • Make sure you take adaptors for any power appliances eg. Power wheelchair.
  • Take with you what you can. In certain parts of the world you may find it hard to rent scooters or walkers, buy medicines, find technical services or parts or rent heavy equipment such as hoists and lift-equipped vans.


  • Arrive at least 2 Hours before your flight is due to depart. Have your wheelchair information on hand – not all the check-in staff will be up to date.
  • Carefully list out what you can and cannot do physically. Anyone who helps you will need to know if you cannot walk comfortably to your seat.
  • The air crew are generally very willing to assist in-flight if you require additional support, generally they will have been briefed about disability procedure.
  • Make several copies of a doctor's letter, all prescriptions, and any documents relating to issues where your condition may require special circumstances, equipment, parking considerations, or medication. Place a copy in each of your checked bags. You may not need but it can be a useful resource to have.
    Long Haul flights can be tedious and uncomfortable. The Independent Traveler gives some tips on ways to improve the experience.


Most travel insurance companies will not cover for pre-existing conditions, therefore it’s essential you discuss with them in detail what your disability is and what cover you need.

NB Cover for pre-existing conditions can be arranged in some circumstances for an additional cost. The specific costs can vary so you can this guide for comparison.

International Travel Tips

There are many websites that give tips and advice for international travel. Here are a few you might find useful:

  • Wheelchair Travelling was set up by a young lady who became paralysed as a teenager. Her love for travel has fueled this site which covers a wide scope of what you might want to know about travelling.
  • Access Tourism New Zealand is a platform for accessible tourism, travel and leisure news and views.
  • The European Network for Accessible Tourism brings together organisations that are specialists in the study, promotion and practice of accessible tourism.
  • The Disabled World Towards Tomorrow website has a large list of travel articles and information for people living with disabilities.
  • Accessible Journeys has a page dedicated to travel tips and information about accessibility and travelling in a wheelchair.
  • Here is also a great example of traveling around the world with a disability. This couple has been just about everywhere on every continent- even Antarctica.
  • Travel Quest lists specialist holidays and vacations around the world for travellers with a disability.
  • Watch this playlist of videos put together by a young New Zealand wheelchair-user who travelled and studied abroad by herself in Finland. 
  • A guide to flying with a disability is a thorough how-to with a focus on travel in the US.

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