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Travel tips for a Little Person
By Samantha Rayburn–Trubyk

A smiling woman with shoulder-length blonde hair, wearing a blue top, standing in front of a blurred outdoor background
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Travelling holds a special allure for many, offering the promise of exploration, adventure and unforgettable experiences. Yet, for individuals born with dwarfism, embarking on a journey can unveil a distinct set of challenges, barriers and opportunities which shape the way we experience the world. 

I have come up with a few tips and insights garnered from personal travels and encounters for fellow travellers navigating similar paths. 

1. Research destinations thoroughly: Investigate accessible restaurants, transportation options and attractions at your destination. Knowing where you should and shouldn’t go ensures a comfortable and enjoyable trip.

2. Advocate for yourself: Use your voice to advocate for your needs when travelling with others. Don’t hesitate to ask for assistance or accommodation as necessary.

3. Pack essential clothes in your carry-on: Due to the difficulty of finding suitable replacements if luggage is lost, pack essential clothing items in your carry-on bag.

4. Bring a foldable stool: Since most hotels do not provide stools, pack a foldable stool to help with accessing high beds, sinks, or mirrors.

5. Plan ahead for medical needs:  Pack your medication in your carry-on bag. Ensure you have enough medication and any necessary medical supplies. Bring a doctor’s note or prescription for ease at security checkpoints and in case you need a refill while travelling.

6. Pre-arrange accommodations: Contact hotels in advance to discuss your specific needs, such as accessible rooms, or shower or step stools. Make sure your accommodations are confirmed before your arrival.

7. Use mobility aids when needed: If you use a mobility aid, ensure it is in good working condition before travelling. If you are going somewhere that may have uneven surfaces, or different accessibility than what you’re used to, consider using a mobility device if you don’t typically use one. Consider renting mobility aids at your destination if it’s more convenient.

8. Know your rights: Familiarize yourself with disability rights and regulations in your destination country. Understanding your rights can help you advocate more effectively. Ensure you have the contact information for a local disability rights organization at your destination.

9. Stay aware and trust your instincts: Always be aware of your surroundings and trust your gut feelings. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it, don’t go into that space and don’t trust that individual, just don’t. I can’t tell you how many times that I’m thankful that I trusted my gut reaction.

10. Utilize TSA Cares or CATSA: In the United States, Transportation Security Administration TSA Cares  (1-866-289-9673) provides assistance for travellers with disabilities and medical conditions. Contact them 72 hours before your flight for support during the security screening process. In Canada, contact Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) for similar assistance. For more information visit Special Needs – CATSA (catsa-acsta.gc.ca) or call 1-888-294-2202 (toll-free) or 1-833-339-1021 (TTY)

11. Prepare for social interactions: Be prepared for the social aspects of travelling as a Little Person. Know how to handle inappropriate comments or photo-taking and don’t hesitate to remove yourself from uncomfortable situations.

12. Embrace unique opportunities: Travelling as a Little Person often leads to unique and memorable experiences. Embrace these moments, such as meeting public figures or gaining special access, and cherish the connections you make.

13. Be prepared for safety concerns: Safety can be a real concern. Be aware of your surroundings, trust your instincts, and take precautions, such as blocking doors with furniture if necessary.

14. Plan for accessibility in social settings: When attending social gatherings, call ahead to ensure there are low tables or seating options that are accessible to you.

15. Educate and Advocate: When you encounter inaccessible situations, take the opportunity to educate and advocate for better accessibility. Your feedback can help improve conditions for future travellers.

16. Recognize cultural differences: Be aware that different countries have varying levels of accessibility and views on disability. Research and plan for potential challenges.

17. Network with other Little People: Engage with other little people in your destination. They may have suggestions and great advice to share about how to navigate in their community.  They will also provide for a great connection should you need assistance while visiting their community.

18. Don’t let fear hold you back: Preparation and self-advocacy can make travel a rewarding experience. Embrace the adventure and enjoy the journey despite any challenges you may face.

 
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