Meet Norma from Liverpool, England

We have talked to some of our most experienced rollator travelers and asked them to share their experience and travel tips. 

This is Norma’s story:

I have lost count of the number of times I’ve been looking at past photographs and uttered; “If only I had the rollator then!”
This was never more so than when being on vacation and standing literally on unfamiliar ground!

In one picture, I am at Central Wharf in Boston, Massachusetts, leaning against a sculpture trying to make it look like a natural pose – cane hidden behind me, when in fact my back was aching from trailing through the New England Aquarium, leaning on a walking stick for support.

Then in Providence, on a quest at whale watching, I sported a pair of bruised knees fresher than the whales I hoped to see, when I tripped. There were other vacations with similar limited mobility; on cruise ships, Cape Cod, New York, South Island NZ, Western AU, Bali, Sicily, Scotland etc. The walking stick was not adequate, and some opportunities were lost and maybe never to be regained – but now I am wiser with experience.

I still have to experience a long-haul flight with my rollator. However, we travel extensively throughout the U.K and I also have family in Malta whom I visit throughout the year. Therefore, I hope I can help dispense with some of your travelling concerns with the following tips.

Norma’s travel tips

Before traveling:

  1. When booking your flight: Include the “assistance to aircraft seat” if you are unable to mount the steps and require the ambulift. You can also request a wheelchair; then you can check-in the folded & tagged rollator earlier, along with your luggage. I prefer to keep my rollator till the last minute.
  2. Check that your travel insurance includes the full replacement of the rollator, obtained in writing.
  3. When booking accommodation, restaurants, coach tours: mention that you have a folding rollator/walker, if there are steps/stairs to negotiate & if lift service is available etc.
  4. Practice the process in beforehand at home: collapsing the rollator i.e. lowering the handle bars, swerving the front wheels inwards, placing it correctly in the travel bag and zipping it up.

During traveling:

  1. At the check-in counter, request a separate baggage tag for your rollator, since it must be stored in the aircraft hold along with other luggage. I affix this tag on the shorter hand grip, not the strap, on the byACRE travel bag (along the personal name tag). Ensure you get the receipt and place it somewhere safe & accessible, eg back cover of passport. You should also be informed where to meet your assistant to help you with boarding.
  2. If you’re going to travel alone, I strongly advise to be “hands free”. I bring my byACRE travel bag folded in the weekend bag (that can detach effortlessly from the rollator).
  3. You can keep the rollator right up to boarding the aircraft via airbridge or ambulift. The folded rollator is then handed to an assistant, either at the entrance to airbridge (along with baby strollers etc.) or to the ambulift assistant. My tip is to have a walking cane at hand, while waiting to board.