Roger tells of his travels abroad in the SIA Forward magazine

Roger tells of his travels abroad in the SIA Forward magazine.

In the August issue, Roger tells of his travels and provides some excellent advice about travelling abroad, supported by his Active Assistance Personal Assistant. Below is the article in full.

Roger broke his neck in a car accident in 1977, on the day he was due to become a professional racing driver. Following many years in hospital, Roger managed to start to live independently with care provided in his own home. This care has been provided by a dedicated live-in team of Personal Assistants from Active Assistance since 1992.

Roger says, “Prior to finding Active, there wasn’t a company who supported spinal injuries for people in their own homes. That’s why I love Active Assistance! I like to see my PA’s as friends. We often go out to interesting destinations and I love to travel.”

As a keen traveller, what have been some of the countries that you would recommend to fellow travellers and why?

As a tetraplegic person, my travelling options are limited, but there are quite a few places worth a visit, and they are well prepared for disabled people. I have loved travelling in the USA, as the hotels and the car rental options are disabled friendly. Here are some of the fantastic photos showing Roger’s visit to NASA.

How does having a live in PA assist you in your travels?

Being tetraplegic means you have lost your independence, and you need to have someone to travel with you for support. Travelling a long distance is complicated, there are always issues to resolve whilst you are in unfamiliar territory. You need to try to prepare for everything in advance, take extra supplies and most importantly you need to arrange travel insurance and medical cover for yourself and your PA too.

The first and most important thing about your PA is that you have to know your PA very well and you have to trust your carer. A well-established working relationship is essential. The PA needs to be confident for moving and handling; skin care and has to be a safe driver. During the long flight, you need a person next to you to assist with various tasks such as repositioning, helping you with your meals and drinks or bladder management.

Usually, the airport crew will assist you in getting on and off the plane, but your PA will be the person who can direct them, as they don’t know you as your PA does.

Is there any advice that you would give to those who might be considering travelling for the first time since their injury and are anxious about travelling?

For your first trip, I would advise not to travel too far.

Organise everything before you leave and try to have a backup plan.

I would recommend finding a specialised travel agent who has experience with spinal cord injury. My travel agent is also tetraplegic.

The right travel agent will take care of the key details, taking a lot of the stress off your shoulders. Double check the arrangements with your hotel and car rental. You need to ensure that the car hire will accommodate your wheelchair and the hotel room is adapted to your needs.

If you are planning to fly to your destination, it is a good idea to visit the airport beforehand to discuss your travel with the airline company and complete the necessary paperwork. For example, if you are taking your wheelchair with you, it is likely that it will go in the cargo hold and there are often particular safety questions to answer. It is always easier to have this sorted before the actual day of travel.

You should also make sure your wheelchair battery charger is fit to use in the country where you are travelling (i.e. the USA has only 110 volt).

Check with your airport if they have an Eagle Hoist at both ends of your journey – this specialist equipment is really useful and saves a lot of hassle. This equipment is operated by the airport and not by the airline companies and not all destinations have them.

If your PA is not a UK citizen, then they might need a different visa to enter the country you are visiting, and it is your responsibility to organise it.

As part of your backup plan, make sure you have an emergency contact number and that you can call any time if you are in trouble, for problem-solving, my travel agent was good when I needed to change my flight at short notice.

For more information about the Spinal Injuries Association (SIA) visit their website.