A few years ago, I managed to break both of my feet in the span of about four months. Not the most graceful period of my life. Sigh. Luckily, it wasn’t both feet at the same time, and the left on only required a shoe, not a boot, and not crutches. But the right one, oh, the right one. I was on crutches for three weeks and in a boot up to my knee for a total of six weeks. I was traveling a lot, like normal, and wasn’t able to take a hiatus until my foot healed. So I had to figure out how to get around an airport and other assorted travel related places while on crutches. There wasn’t a lot of info on the internet, so I managed to muddle through on my own. Here are the things I did that made it easier to get around while temporarily handicapped.
1) One bag packing. The best way to be completely self sufficient is to carry everything in one bag you can wear. For my trips, I pared down to the bare necessities and managed to get everything into my amazing expandable backpack (a Swiss Gear bag similar to this one. It’s not super pretty but it will pack a ton). If you’re going on a trip longer than two nights, this may be one of the few times I will recommend that you check your bag.
2) Cross-body personal item. I found an inexpensive cross-body purse just for this time period. If a messenger bag works better for you, that’s fine too. A cross-body purse/briefcase/personal item will allow you to move around without banging into your crutches. With my backpack and purse, I was able to crutch around without assistance a lot of the time.
3) Get direct flights. If at all possible, skip the connection. O’Hare is a huge airport that can be difficult to navigate in the best of times, much less when you’re slowed down.
4) Keep tip money handy. If you will end up getting assistance from people, be prepared to tip. Have plenty of $1 bills that you can easily access. If you need a wheelchair (which I did a lot of the time, especially in O’Hare), assume you will be wheeled by several different people—one person from the ticket counter to your gate, another wheel you down the ramp to the plane, another to take you from gate to gate if you have a connection, etc. While they wheel you, your backpack and purse can go on your lap, and you can balance your crutches on the footrest of the wheelchair.
5) Let the airlines know. Most airlines are really good about getting assistance for those who need it. Call your airline and travel agent ahead of time to let them know you will need some extra help. They made sure people met me at each gate and that I got easily accessed seats.
I hope this helps you! Of course, mostly I hope you never break your foot and have to travel, but if it does happen, you’ll be ready to handle it.
Readers, have you ever had to travel injured? What did you do to make it easier?
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