Traveling with Ease: Your Guide to Using a Suitcase Ramp for Wheelchairs on AskSAMIE

Traveling with Ease: Your Guide to Using a Suitcase Ramp for Wheelchairs

Traveling with ease, especially for the elderly and disabled, often seems like navigating a labyrinth of limitations. Imagine a scenario where this labyrinth suddenly becomes a straight path. Thanks to a simple yet revolutionary tool: the suitcase ramp for wheelchairs. This guide shines a spotlight on this game-changer in travel ease, empowering users with the freedom to explore the world without barriers.


In this article you'll learn:

  • How suitcase ramps for wheelchairs provide independence and peace of mind for travelers with mobility challenges.
  • How to consider weight capacity, length, and portability when choosing a suitcase ramp.
  • Why it's important to practice using your suitcase ramp at home before traveling.
  • Additional resources for planning accessible trips, including apps and websites.


Sound good? Let's dive in!


Understanding Mobility Challenges in Travel

Over the years, I've heard many people grieve the loss of the ability to travel because of their changing mobility. Older adults and those with disabilities often face hurdles that many travelers might never consider, from navigating airport corridors to accessing public restrooms. These challenges not only affect the physical well-being of individuals but also their emotional health, casting a shadow over what should be joyful experiences. Accessibility remains a significant concern, with many destinations still behind on accommodating diverse needs.


But it doesn't have to be this way!. There are enough cool tools available that if you plan ahead, you're likely to be able to accommodate for many common mobility-focused travel issues. While planning ahead is hardly anyone's favorite task, it's a much better solution than limiting or giving up travel (I'm biased since it's my favorite thing to do!)


How Suitcase Ramps Help with Travel Accessibility

7' Suitcase Ramp | for up to 10" rise on

Enter the suitcase ramp for wheelchairs: a portable, foldable solution designed to bridge the gap between accessibility and adventure. These ramps serve as a reliable companion across various venues, from entering a historical site to visiting a loved one's home.


The traditional visual of a ramp is a large structure that might wind around and is permanently attached to the front of someone's house. While those do exist and have a true purpose in certain situations, many times a portable or suitcase ramp can do the job just as well for half the cost and half the headache.


Choosing the Right Suitcase Ramp for Your Needs Selecting the ideal suitcase ramp involves considering several factors, including weight capacity, length, and ease of portability. Making sure compatibility with your destination and your ability to carry it are crucial. Let's compare a couple of styles:


  • Foldable suitcase ramps cater to a wide range of needs, accommodating up to a 12" rise with ease. The key is to choose a ramp that's long enough to meet multiple scenarios but short enough to carry with you easily. The longer the ramp, the heavier it becomes. So it's important to consider what you're capable of handling.
  • Roll-Up Ramp with Carrying Bag for Travel on
    Roll-up ramps are great because they take up less space than suitcase ramps and are generally lighter so they create more opportunities for traveling with them. This roll-up ramp comes in 3' and 5' lengths, which are great for handling a curb or large step. But if dealing with multiple steps, this is likely not the right solution. Custom lengths and configurations of roll-up ramps also exist from Roll-A-Ramp if something longer is needed.


How To Determine the Length of Ramp You Need

Everyone thinks they just need a little ramp here to handle getting in and out of a house. So unfortunately I've had to break the news to people far too often that what the need is actually much longer. Let's break this down with some real numbers.


The American Disability Act (ADA) recommends a ramp be 1 foot long for every inch of rise. That means if you measure the height of each step and it totals 14", then the rise is 14". So that little ramp you thought you needed for the 2 steps into the house is supposed to be 14 feet long! And if that seems unrealistic, the average height of a step is between 6–7". So if you have 2 steps to enter your home, then this applies to you!


Now there are some caveats. First, the ADA only applies to government and public access locations, so you aren't mandated to follow this guideline in your house or when traveling. But the ADA didn't just make those numbers up to be overly cautious. If the angle is too steep, it's not possible to push a manual wheelchair up and can cause balance challenges when using a walker. So I recommend you keep the 1-inch up to 1 foot out ratio for pushing a manual wheelchair. But if a helper is present or a power wheelchair is being used, then a 1-inch up to 8" out ratio can be used if needed.


Practical Tips for Traveling with a Suitcase Ramp Traveling with a suitcase ramp requires preparation and practice. From ensuring safe usage to mastering efficient packing, familiarity with your ramp can significantly smooth your travel experience. For example, if you're helping your person by pushing the wheelchair, you may want to practice going both up and down so you know for sure how to navigate it and decide if you want to back down the ramp instead of going forward. We recommend practicing at home to become comfortable with setup and teardown, guaranteeing no surprises on the go.


Additional Resources for Traveling with Mobility Challenges Planning an accessible trip extends beyond packing a suitcase ramp. Choosing the right accommodations and understanding the legal rights and accommodations available in different regions are crucial steps. We've curated a list of resources, including apps and websites, to aid travelers with disabilities in planning their journeys, making sure a seamless experience from start to finish.


As we wrap up, know that the suitcase ramp for wheelchairs represents more than just an accessory— it's a key to unlocking the world for those with differing abilities. As we embrace the potential of such mobility aids, the horizons of travel expand, inviting everyone to explore with confidence and comfort. We encourage you to consider portable ramps not just as a tool, but as an investment in accessibility, independence, and the boundless joy of discovery.


FAQs: Navigating Common Questions

  1. What can I use instead of a wheelchair ramp?
    1. Alternatives to wheelchair ramps include portable roll-up ramps or threshold ramps, depending on the specific need.
  2. What is the weight limit for the suitcase ramp?
    1. Weight limits vary based on the model. Be sure to check the weight limit on each one if that is a concern.
  3. Will the center ridge prevent a scooter from going up the ramp?
    1. The design of the ramp provides smooth access for scooters and wheelchairs alike, because the wheels never come in contact with that center ridge.


For those contemplating their next journey, remember: the world is now more accessible than ever. Explore, embrace, and enjoy the journey, equipped with the tools that make travel truly inclusive.

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Brandy Archie, OTD, OTR/L, CLIPP

Dr. Archie received her doctorate in occupational therapy from Creighton University. She is a certified Living in Place Professional with past certifications in low vision therapy, brain injury and driving rehabilitation.  Dr. Archie has over 15 years of experience in home health and elder focused practice settings which led her to start AskSAMIE, a curated marketplace to make aging in place possible for anyone, anywhere! Answer some questions about the problems the person is having and then a personalized cart of adaptive equipment and resources is provided.

She's a wife, mother of 3 and a die-hard Kansas City Chiefs fan! Connect with her on Linked In or by email anytime.

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