Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Absolute #1 Best Travel Advice EVER

Yes, the Absolute #1 BEST Travel Advice for me, and probably many people with MS (spoiler alert): ask for a wheelchair to get you through the airport.

While preparing for my recent trip to France, I was advised by some of you to request a wheelchair at the Philadelphia airport (my departure point) to get me from check-in to the gate because Philly is such a large, sprawling airport.  

"Do I really need that?" I wondered as I pondered how uncomfortable I would feel.  After all, I don't look like I need a wheelchair (I "look so good").  I can walk alright (for short distances), and people would think I was lazy or faking it (where have you heard that before?!), and I had a cane (the purple one) so I'd be okay, right? Besides, I wanted to prove to myself how independent I can be (stupid ego speaking).

My Airport Wheelchair
I reluctantly swallowed my pride and called the airline, and timidly asked for assistance in Philly.  Glad I did because not only did it save me lots of walking, but also lots of standing in lines through security and customs. There's no way I would have been able to do all that walking and standing by myself.  
"The decision to go with the flow can take courage because you are surrendering the notion that you need to do everything by yourself."  Enjoying the Ride, Daily Om

My itinerary took me from Philly to Munich, then on to my final destination in Marseilles, France.  I arrived in Munich wishing that I had requested a wheelchair there, too, as my connecting flight gate was at the other end of the airport and I was exhausted.

Returning back home, though, I learned that the airline had flagged me as "needing assistance" and already arranged for a wheelchair for me in every airport (including Munich).  Eureka!  Airline assistants brought a wheelchair or a cart, called me by name, and helped me through all the tough lines. It appears that most airports are set up to assist people, and have a dedicated staff of courteous people who seem to enjoy helping.

This was neither humiliating nor embarrassing. It was not a sign of weakness, but rather of sign of resourcefulness and good judgement in being receptive to help.  I’m so glad I took this energy-conservation advice.  Thanks to all of you who badgered me, and sorry for not believing you.  Lesson learned: It takes courage to ask for help, but it is a sign of strength.

Feel free to say, "I told you so."

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