Dec 5, 2013

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Traveling With Your Cane

Traveling With Your CaneThose who need assistance standing and walking steadily will naturally need to bring along their walking canes or mobility devices onto an airplane during travel. All walking canes vary in size and style, but all have the same purpose – to help the individual get around. If you are planning to travel by airplane, it is good to know that you can take your walking cane onto the plane with you without any problems. Here are some basic guidelines and tips to help make traveling with your cane much easier and smooth:

Traveling With Your Cane

  • The Basics – Many airlines will allow you to bring your walking cane on the plane with you, without it being considered one of your carry-on pieces. A cane is listed under the category of a mobility device, so naturally it would be allowed. However, due to precautions at the airport, you may have to go through an X-ray machine before boarding. Collapse your cane (if possible) before it is X-rayed and ask for help while standing or walking through the metal detector.
  • Storing Your Cane – After you have been seated on the airplane, you can ask a flight attendant if he or she can store your walking cane for you. Several airplanes will have closets or designated areas to store larger passenger items such as walking canes, hanging garment bags and crutches. Once you have ended your flight, the flight attendant will return your walking cane to you.
  • Safety Concerns – Because airplanes are confined areas, it can be easy to bump into other passengers. While you are walking on the airplane with your cane, be very careful how you move if you need to get up at any point.

Now that the basics have been covered, lets consider some tips that can be incorporated in your travels with a walking cane.

  • Tip #1 – If you are traveling to Europe, check out the book written by author Rick Steves, Easy Access Europe. This book breaks down several European countries and has options for people who need assistance walking with a cane or are confined to a wheelchair.
  • Tip #2 – When traveling, try to book your accommodations near the site(s) that you want to visit. This will help you to reach your destinations quickly and easily without the need to walk farther or pay additional for transportation.
  • Tip #3 – While in the airport, utilize the wheelchair service that is available. This is especially helpful if the airport is large and requires a lot of walking. Typically, this is a free service and the staff will take you in the back areas, around the crowds to quickly and safely make it to your destination.
  • Tip #4 – Use public transportation when made available. Private drivers can be cheap; depending on what area you travel to and allow you to walk from the car to the location with less in between.
  • Tip #5 – Build in some “rest breaks” into your itinerary. By doing so you will allow your body to rest, even though you will be traveling all of the time.

No matter how long or how far you travel it is important to consider the limitations that are associated with walking canes. We hope that by considering the above-mentioned tips and information that you will be better equipped to travel easily and comfortably. Happy Travels from Palo Medical!

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  • Stephanie Schneider

    What a helpful and relevant post, especially with the holidays near and people traveling to visit their loved ones. I never knew that the attendant would store canes in a closet. I just figured they would have to be stowed under the seat or in the above compartments. Great tips at the end, too!

    • Rachel B

      I agree. The tips are very useful. I also did not know that the flight attendants would store the cane for you. I am glad that they don’t consider a cane a personal carry-on. Building in rest breaks is super important too. I’m glad the post mentioned that.

    • Chell

      I will definitely be sharing this post with older relatives!

  • Rebecca

    Yeah, that’s true! Last time I went flying, they allowed me to bring my cane on the plane and didn’t charge me an extra carry on fee! Then when I got off the plane, there was a wheelchair there waiting for me and I was able to safely get to my destination thanks to the help from the airport staff. I’m sure I’m not the only person out there that this has received this exceptional treatment.

    • Jerry

      Wow! That is fantastic, Rebecca! Did you ever experience a time when the airline wasn’t as accommodating? I wonder if after 9/11, when security was heightened, if there were different thoughts regarding cane use. I hear a lot of flight horror stories, so it is refreshing to hear the opposite!

    • Rebecca

      The was one time a few years ago where I flew to a smaller airport and there was not a wheelchair available for me but I was still able to bring my cane aboard with no extra charge. That has never been an issue for me.

    • PB and Running Shoes

      Thanks for bringing this up. I have always wonder if things have become stricter after 9/11. Last time I was in an airport, I heard security telling a man he could not leave his portable oxygen tank unattended even if it was just for a minute.

    • Michele

      This is great to hear!

    • T.J.

      My older relatives will use the wheelchair service as well as the airport shuttles when they are flying. It is faster, safer, and easier for them to get around this way. There is less chance of getting tangled up in the crowds or tripping over the cane this way.

  • Jerry

    I am impressed that the airports continue to come up with more ways to cater to the needs of the aging population. Since a cane is basically an extension of one’s physical self, it should not be hard to travel with one. Thank you for keeping us informed on airport’s regulations.

    • Stephanie Schneider

      I could not agree more. It is so important that anyone be helped, whether they are traveling with a cane, wheelchair, or even a service dog! I was delighted to read this blog and learn how easy it is for folks to travel with their canes. The tips are great too!

    • Chell

      Love this! It always amazes me the extent an airport will go to in order to ensure that the aging population as well those with disabilities can travel with as much ease as possible.

  • Rachel B

    When I am booking trips and trying to decide what sights I want to visit, I notice that landmarks and tourist attractions are usually marked to let you know if they are handicap accessible. There are also different travel books that will tell you how much walking is involved when visiting different places.

    • Michele

      This is great for people of all ages. Whether you are older, traveling with a disability, have kids with you or just need to know the appropriate footwear, it’s great to know how much walking is involved.

  • Isabella Vargas

    Good idea about including rest breaks in the schedule. There is nothing wrong with taking a few moments to regroup and regain strength/energy in order to continue along with the journey. It is also a smart idea to make accommodations near where you have to be whenever possible. Why put yourself through more strain and make more work for yourself when it is not necessary? Those two suggestions alone could make a world of difference for someone dealing with mobility issues.

  • Kellie

    Instead of storing your cane in a closet, why not just put it in the overhead bin where it is readily accessible if you need it during the flight or when you arrive at your destination? The aPollo canes are collapsible so should take up very little room in the bin — and certainly not as much as some of the huge bags that folks put in the bins to avoid an extra fee!

    • Reese

      OK, I have to admit that I am on a mission this morning to learn about canes! I had never thought about traveling with a cane. It seems that this could very easily be used as a weapon so it is good to know that the airlines make concessions for those who need a cane. And a collapsible cane seems like a really good option. I think one would even fit under the seat in front of you.

    • Chell

      I never thought about that either until I read this article. I really like the idea of a collapsible cane.

    • Julia

      So many items can be seen as a “weapon” so it’s nice to see airlines at least taking into account that people NEED these to make it from point a to point b. The way security has become so strict in the last decade, I actually am surprised that they allow canes. But at least they have a little bit of consideration and common sense to continue to allow these aboard. There’s only so much you can do to prevent unavoidable circumstances. If someone wants to hijack a plane, they’re going to do it no matter how many restrictions are made. Anything can be used as a weapon!

    • Danny

      They will generally allow you to bring the cane on board but require it to be put away during the flight. It is just like how people can have other items on the plane but they must be checked in.They realize people need the canes to get one and off the plane but some will not allow them to be used in flight or be kept out during the flight.

  • Michele

    I’m so glad travel is becoming easier and easier for older adults.

  • Diamond Grant

    I assume that if an airline allows canes that other modes of transportation would as well such as buses or trains. I wonder if these other travel alternatives have accommodations for storing canes or not.
    I know that when I traveled via train from VA to PA, the steps boarding the train were quite hard to get up on even for the average passenger let alone one with mobility issues so I wonder if the staff would provide assistance to these customers while boarding and exiting the train.

    • Julia

      I know exactly what you’re talking about! Train and bus steps seem very steep and since it is hard for people without injuries to walk up them, I bet it’s even harder for elderly people and people with injuries. Traveling with your cane can be difficult sometimes but I’m sure that if planes help to accommodate people, trains and buses would as well.

    • Sarah Jo Coryell

      Most buses and trains have special platforms for loading and unloading of people whoa re disabled for who might not be able to climb stairs. They are generally used for people in wheelchairs but I am sure the same would apply to someone who needs a walker or cane to get around and who cannot climb stairs safely.

    • T.J.

      I think the big reason some flight have the canes stored is because of how notoriously crowded and packed flights are these days. Having a cane out during the flight can trip people up and cause a lot of injuries. Buses and trains and other modes of transportation are usually not as crowded and cramped so canes are easier to navigate around.

  • Danny

    My grandpa uses the shuttles and airport wheelchair services whenever he travels. It makes it faster and easier for him to get to the gate and also makes it easier for him navigate through the crowds than trying to fight his way through with his cane. He had an accident several years ago where someone tripped on his cane and made him fall- ever since then he uses the shuttles and other services that they offer.

    • T.J.

      Several of my older relatives who use canes now and then have had similar problems in airports. My grandma has had some near falls in the airport because of how crowded it gets and how hard it is to walk with a cane in those sorts of crowds.

  • Patrick M.

    It can be helpful to call the airline ahead of time and see what they do for people who may need a little help getting around. Some airline allow for pre-boarding for the elderly or those who need the extra help. See if this option is available on your flight and it can make the process much smoother and easier.

  • Czar Ketty

    I wouldn’t want my cane in “storage” somewhere on the plane. I would feel trapped on an island. I like to put my cane in overhead storage and I always have an isle seat. I try to stay seated for the entirety of a flight, but if I do need to use the restroom I call for a flight attendent to come over and get the cane down for me.

  • Ophelia

    I started using a cane almost a year ago and haven’t had to fly with it yet. Do they really not let you keep it at your seat, like leaning up against the seat in front of you or across the floor? I don’t know if I would want to have to call for assistance every time I needed to use the restroom.

  • Kit Thornton

    Never had a problem with my cane. I travel a lot, domestically and internationally, and aside from a few try-hard TSA agents who insisted on X-raying a stick, I’ve never been barred from carrying it, or asked to check it in.

    Of course, if your “cane” has spikes, skulls, or some such on it, I could see it raising interest, but if you have a garden variety cane, I doubt if it would be a problem.