When you break a bone, life doesn’t slow down just because you have to. That can be a little tricky when it comes to travel. I’m sharing tips for traveling by air with a broken ankle.
I broke my ankle on a hike and still decided to attend a media trip the following day, located 3 hours away. It wasn’t my driving foot and I had crutches but I quickly learned that crutches are really challenging and exhausting when you need to do a lot of walking.
The following week I had a trip already booked to attend TMS Family Travel Conference at Amelia Island. It never crossed my mind not to go. I had already paid for the flight and I could not afford to miss out on the valuable information and connections that would happen there.
On this trip, I was traveling solo, which meant that I had to do a little planning logistically.
Here are some tips I learned if you find yourself traveling solo with a broken ankle
1. Give the airlines a heads up that you will be needing wheelchair assistance
The more notice you give, the more likely they will be able to adjust your seat location where space is available. You will also get to board the plane first so that you can have more time to get to your seat.
Planes do have a special wheelchair that is able to fit in the aisle to assist someone to get to their seat in the plane.
2. Try to get a window seat on the side of your broken ankle so that your ankle is out of the way and less likely to be accidentally bumped
Bonus- you can also get to see some incredible views from your window.
3. Rent a knee scooter with a basket in the front if possible before your trip
These are a lifesaver! Seriously, you need one of these in your life, to make your life easier. You will still want to bring your crutches too.
4. You can check your knee scooter with the agent without a fee and then take advantage of wheelchair assistance when you are inside the airport
5. Perks of a Knee Scooter
If your destination requires a lot of “scooting” your knee resting on the pad of the scooter will likely get a little sore but it’s still WAY better than a long day on crutches.
The scooter also allows your other leg moments to relax a bit like a bike. You can also use your scooter as a seat if you need to.
**Just watch out for cracks/uneven pavement while you are riding or you could easily fall off of it. The scooter also makes really wide turns but there is a brake to help keep you from picking up too much speed as you are going down a slope.
6. Wear a backpack with anything that you will need to carry on wise and keep it light
I had to keep my laptop with me, but I decided that everything else could go in my checked bag.
(Sorry, but you will need to check a bag unless you are only packing a swimsuit on your trip) I kept a small crossbody purse on me so that I could easily access my phone and boarding pass.
7. If someone is dropping you off at the airport it’s a little tricky to get everything inside if you have an early flight
I rode my knee scooter with my crutches under my arm while dragging my carry-on with my left hand.
This scene was slow-moving and pitiful but I only saw one airport employee on the curb at 4:30am, and he decided to walk by me without offering assistance. Thank you random stranger in the check-in line who took pity on me and came to help.
8. You will be frisked if you stay in your wheelchair during the security screening
Whether or not you are required to take off your boot is up to the agent and how thorough they are. I received a pat-down with the boot on at one airport and I had to take the boot off at another airport.
9. Welcome the assistance of strangers
It will not only restore your hope in humanity, but it will also help make your day go A LOT smoother.
I encountered kindness from strangers more times than I could count during my solo trip traveling on multiple planes, cities,etc. Strangers went out of their way to help me in almost every way possible. A lot of it was very simple but it was huge to me as the recipient.
I didn’t know where they stood politically and I didn’t care. They were kind to me when I needed help and as a result I will be more mindful to be kind to others to pay it forward.
I will also be mindful to help wipe up water on bathroom floors when I see it. That scenario is really terrifying on crutches when you slip because of water.
What seems like an insignificant small act of kindness, really goes a long way and can impact someone more than you realize.
***Thanks again to the random stranger who helped me. She was exiting the bathroom but turned around to walk to the handicap stall, located the farthest from the entrance, to make sure that I didn’t have to struggle to open the bathroom stall door by myself on crutches.
Little things make a big difference.
10. Bring cash with you for tips
I was told that you technically don’t have to tip the wheelchair assistance workers at the airport ….but that most people tend to tip $2-$5. They are a HUGE help, especially if you have a connecting flight in Atlanta.
They can also make stops at the restroom or a restaurant if you need them to. I tipped each of my helpers $5 because they made my day so much easier.
11. Bring your medicine and prop up your foot whenever possible
Swelling is likely during a big travel day and it can be really hard to get comfortable. It’s unlikely that you will be able to prop it up on the plane unless you get an empty seat next to you. Take advantage of the time you are waiting at the gate to try to elevate your foot and drink lots of water whenever possible.
12. Don’t let a broken ankle stop you from doing what you love…in moderation
When I visit the ocean, my tradition is taking sunrise pics and putting my toes in the water. I didn’t let a broken ankle stop me from my tradition… but it definitely was a challenge and a workout!
Braking an ankle is definitely a challenge but it doesn’t have to stop you from traveling.