Traveling with a disability can create many challenges, both when the disability is visible—and when it’s not.
In my Empowered Traveler™ newsletter this week, I linked to an article by Julia Buckley in which she describes the challenges of traveling with invisible disabilities, and the lack of support individuals often experience.
Reading the article reminded me of the last trip I took on a plane, when I stood in the security line behind a young woman and her little dog.
When I asked about her pup, she said he was her emotional support dog.
Honestly, my initial reaction was surprise that a person as-healthy-as-she-appeared needed special support.
Which is exactly the kind of barrier Buckley describes in the article.
That one of the major challenges faced by those with invisible disabilities is the assumption that such a “healthy-looking” person shouldn’t need or ask for extra help.
The assumptions and judgments of others are the types of things that can make it difficult for someone to speak up and ask for what they need when traveling or in everyday life.
That’s a huge deal in all kinds of ways—and might make a person decide to stay home instead of venturing out.
We never know what another person is going through in the present or has survived in the past.
Or how they may be exactly the blessing we needed and didn’t even know it.
Like my young acquaintance and her sweet dog—who provided pet therapy for everyone in that tense security line, since he was happy to roll onto his back and expose his belly to anyone willing to bend down and give it a good rub.
In addition to the excellent points Buckley makes about how invisible disabilities can make travel more difficult, she underscores a critical overall theme: don’t be shy about advocating for yourself.
Which brings me to the topic of honking your horn.
My mom struggled with the debilitating effects of osteoarthritis, which meant she relied on a walker and then wheelchair for a number of years.
When she was still driving, she often went out on her own, enjoying the autonomy and independence of being able to do so.
But if someone wasn’t with her, she sometimes ended up in a pickle she didn’t quite expect.
Like the day she was sitting in the parking lot of CVS, needing to take her medicine, but unable to open a new bottle of water.
True to her tenacious form, instead of sitting there in a puddle of frustration about what she couldn’t do—Mom did something many of us struggle with: she asked for help.
Yep, my sweet little mom saw a stranger walking across the lot and gave a honk of her horn to get his attention.
As Mom repeatedly found when she was out on her own, he was more than happy to lend a hand.
It’s that type of kindness we need more of in this world, and there’s plenty of it to go around—as is evidenced by The Kindness Diaries, a series Dave and I just discovered.
We love how it portrays the hidden kindnesses that are ready to be revealed—if we’ll only ask.
Post feature photo by Jan Kaluza on Unsplash.