Traveling as a Paralympic Athlete

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Pascale Bercovitch holding oars smiling at the camera

As a Paralympic athlete and a proud member of the accessible community, I’ve embarked on numerous journeys that have challenged me both as an individual and as a traveler. These experiences have taught me valuable lessons that I’d like to share with fellow amputees, athletes, and anyone facing similar circumstances.

Understanding Your Rights

One of the first steps in smooth travel is knowing your rights when it comes to security checks and boarding transportation. Whether you’re a seasoned Paralympian or new to the world of adaptive sports, understanding the policies of airlines and other transportation services regarding accommodations for individuals with disabilities is crucial.

Planning for Accessibility

Before embarking on your journey, it’s essential to inquire about the accessibility and amenities of your hotel room. This proactive approach can help you avoid unexpected challenges upon arrival. For athletes like me, who rely on specialized sports equipment, it’s crucial to communicate your needs with the hotel staff. Ensuring that your equipment is well-cared for and accommodated can significantly ease your travel experience.

Travelling with Sports Equipment

Traveling with sports equipment can be particularly challenging. For athletes like us who compete in Paralympic events, our gear is an extension of ourselves. Ensure that your adaptive sports equipment is securely packed and clearly labeled. It’s a good practice to disassemble and pack your equipment in a manner that makes it easily identifiable and manageable during transit.

Dressing for Comfort and Ease

Opt for comfortable, loose clothing when you travel. This not only ensures your comfort but also facilitates security checks, making it easier to navigate the process. For those without prosthetic devices, like me, there’s no need to worry or about about shoes! But do consider clothing that allows you to showcase your adaptive gear when needed.

Preparing for Self-Care

It’s crucial to ensure you have all your daily medical and self-care supplies with you. This includes any medications, mobility aids, or other essentials to support your well-being while on the road.

Seeking Assistance

When traveling, it’s a good idea to have the contact information for hospitals in your destination area readily available. This precaution can be invaluable in the event of unexpected health issues. Additionally, inform your doctors of your travel plans, especially if you’re embarking on long-haul flights.

Staying Active During Travel

Extended periods of sitting during long flights or car rides can increase the risk of blood clots. Even with limited mobility, there are ways to promote circulation. Gently wiggling your limbs and massaging your body can help maintain blood flow and reduce discomfort.

Embracing the Journey

Traveling as an amputee in a wheelchair may present its challenges, but it’s also an incredible opportunity for personal growth and cultural exchange. Each obstacle you overcome becomes a victory in itself, and each journey is a chance to learn and evolve.

Travel is not without its challenges, but with careful planning, an awareness of your rights, and a positive outlook, these challenges can be surmounted. Remember that every journey is an opportunity for growth, so embrace the adventure, conquer the obstacles, and keep moving forward.

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