Just because you’re on crutches doesn’t mean that you should have to miss out on a long-awaited or pre-booked holiday. After I broke my foot on our honeymoon I had to learn very quickly how to travel with crutches.
I dropped a door on my leg on our fourth day in the US and needed to pay US$250 for X-rays. That incident earned me a fancy old man walking stick. In Paris, four weeks later, my bag and our passports were stolen moments before I tripped on a gutter and broke my foot. That incident got me painful foot surgery and eight weeks recovering in France in a plaster cast and crutches.
There are a few things that I’ve learned on our travels. The first is that you cannot plan for everything. The second is that travel insurance is an essential item that should be organised as soon as any travel plans are made. And the third thing was that while it’s terribly difficult to travel with crutches, I’m not one to sit in a hotel room and do nothing.
So, to assist anyone else who might find themselves in a similar unfortunate position, here are my
ten tips for travelling with crutches:
1. Skip lines
Whether it’s the Easyjet boarding line or the entry line for the Empire State Building, most people will see you struggling in line and let you skip to the front of the queue. Mainly so you don’t take up anymore room or time than necessary! Don’t feel guilty about skipping the line; remember how physically draining it is to stand for extended periods of time on one foot in a queue going nowhere.
2. Plan your route in advance
While travel with crutches can be tiresome and difficult, your life can be made much easier if you plan your route ahead of time. Hop-on hop-off buses can be useful for getting to all of the major tourist attractions without having to tackle train station stairs. Many trains and subways around the world are equipped with wheelchair or disable access from the street to the train. Check local subway maps and websites for disable access information.
3. Take advantage and use the lift
Ever feel guilty for using the lifts when there are stairs near-by? Well, crutches are the perfect excuse! No one likes to be held up on the stairs by someone with crutches.
4. Always carry duct tape
I regretted not having duct tape when I found myself standing on one foot outside a nightclub with one of my crutches broken. Duct tape should be an essential item for any bag when travelling. It’s the perfect temporary. Duct tape can help you fix the pesky hole in the bottom of your shoe, a rip in your back pack or the crutch that broke on your night out on the town.
5. Call your accommodation in advance
It’s always a good idea to call the place you are staying before you get there to ensure that your room is easily accessible. By explaining your situation you will make the lives of the hotel manager and yourself much easier. Once, we were upgraded to a larger room because it was one less flight of stairs and the hotel manager wanted to help as much as he could.
6. Managing crutches at the airport
Unfortunately crutches must undergo X-ray screening at security checks and be placed in overhead baggage compartments while on an airplane. Sometimes this means that security agents and flight attendants will be there to assist you and make sure you are comfortable. Remember, when booking your ticket try to request a pre-boarding ticket so that you can board the plane first and get settled first.
7. Carrying bags is annoying
Bags can be difficult to carry when you are maneuvering around with crutches. And, it’s important to keep your hands and arms free. If you require a bag, consider a small backpack that will fit all of your items.
8. Consider hiring a wheelchair
Go out and enjoy the sites and attractions as you normally would. But, if there’s a large amount of walking involved you might want to consider hiring a wheelchair. Call ahead to a pharmacy or your hotel concierge to ask about hiring a wheelchair during your stay. Some attractions and museums will also have wheelchairs that you can loan during your visit.
9. Build up your strength and keep fit
Travel with crutches is a full body work out, especially if you need to combat the occasional flight of stairs or hill. If you travel with crutches for more than a couple of weeks you will demolish that persistent underarm fat and start building abs of steel!
10. Indulge in ‘naughty’ foods
As long as you are getting out there and using up all of that energy doing touristy things, why not break your diet a little bit? Treat yourself to a spaghetti carbonara, an extra piece of bread, and a gelato or tiramisu for dessert. After all of the hard work you know you will need those extra carbs and fats to get you through.
Whatever you do, do not let crutches deter you from your travels. Use them to your advantage and enjoy your trip!
Looking for more travel inspiration?
Check out my recommendation on what to do in:
Amsterdam, Bali, Berlin, Brisbane, Bristol, Budapest, Cambridge, Canberra, Cappadocia, Chamonix, Copenhagen, Dubrovnik, Istanbul, Kotor, Kyoto, London, Lyon, Madrid, New York City, Noosa, Paris, Riga, Scotland, Tokyo and Washington D.C.