7 Of the Most Important Wheelchair Travel Tips

Here are 7 of the Most Important Travel Tips for Wheelchair Users:1) Have a shower cap with you at all times!This may seem like a weird tip for wheelchair users, but a simple shower cap can come in very handy. Imagine that you are out exploring a city and rolling from place to place, then suddenly it starts to rain. What do you do to protect your chair from getting soaked and potentially malfunctioning? If you have a shower cap, just throw it over the joystick controller area. It is the perfect size to completely cover the joystick area, but you will still need an umbrella to protect the rest of your chair of course.2) Whatever you do – FIND A LOCAL WHEELCHAIR REPAIR SHOP BEFORE YOU TRAVEL!Before you even think about traveling somewhere new, use the magical powers of Google to locate a wheelchair repair shop in your desired destination city. You never know when your chair will tear up or when the airline will damage your chair. There is nothing worse than arriving somewhere, only to learn that your chair isn’t functioning. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!3) Take more money than you think you will need.This is one of my favorite travel related quotes and couldn’t be more true. I always try to calculate how much money I need to take on a trip to cover meals, attractions, taxis and souvenirs, and then add at least $250-500 for unexpected circumstances that could arise.4) Book transportation before you leave home.Many cities do offer wheelchair accessible transportation of some sort, but it may not always be readily available when you want it. At the least, book in advance an accessible taxi from the airport to your hotel and then from your hotel to the airport for your departure. After arriving at your hotel, the concierge should be able to help you get transportation around the city, but feel free to book as much as possible beforehand. It’s no fun sitting at your hotel waiting on a taxi. Trust me, I know from experience. I once waited almost three hours for an accessible taxi that never even came.5) Take parts of your wheelchair as a carry-on.Plan to take an empty bag to the airport with you to put parts of your electric wheelchair in as a carry-on. I always detach the footrests and the joystick of mine, and I have detached the headrest before as well. I have heard horror stories of disabled travelers arriving to their destination to discover that parts of their wheelchair are banged up or even missing completely. Luckily, I’ve been pretty fortunate to not have experienced this, other than losing a joystick knob once. Also, take your wheelchair cushion on the plane to sit on throughout the flight. It is much more comfortable than the plane seat.6) Check the voltage at your destination.Wheelchair chargers can be tricky when traveling. So tricky in fact, that my charger has blown up twice in two different countries. I took a converter to charge my USA charger with in Germany and England, but as soon as we turned it on to charge it blew up. The chargers are so powerful that they just can’t convert properly as needed. In London I ended up finding a repair shop that sold chargers so I had to buy a 240 volt charger on the spot. This wasn’t cheap though. It cost a whopping 250 £. For future trips that you have planned, do some research and see if anywhere will let you rent a charger while you’re in the country. This is a great website where you can check the voltage of every country: http://kropla.com/electric2.htm7) Never ever EVER book a vacation over the internet!When you are booking flights and hotels, always be sure to call instead of booking online. Sure, it’s fun to browse online and the web can definitely help you make a decision as to where to stay, but somewhere saying that it is wheelchair accessible online can mean many different things. I once found a hotel online that said it was wheelchair accessible, so I called them to reserve it and I asked what was accessible about the hotel. The receptionist responded by saying “We have an elevator”. They did not have a roll in shower, wide doorways, or anything that I needed… just an elevator. As far as flights go, when you book a flight you have to request bulkhead seating (the front row of seats) over the phone. The bulkhead seats usually have much more room to get into the seat and sometimes the armrest will lift up, making these seats ideal for wheelchair users.

There is an excessive amount of traffic coming from your Region.

#EANF#

Personal Branding: The Lighthouse Branding Model

More and more people are talking about the importance of personal branding, both in career searching and in career development. Effective personal branding not only makes you stand out from the crowd to employers and recruiters, it can also increase your job security by communicating your value as a leader and team player to your organization.

What is personal branding?

Personal branding is the process of identifying the unique and differentiating value that you bring to an organization, team and/or project and communicating it in a professionally memorable and consistent manner in all of your actions, both online and offline, to all current and prospective stakeholders in your career.

The Lighthouse Personal Branding Model

The lighthouse is a great model for breaking down the branding process into four key steps: the foundation, the beacon, the tower and the beam.

Foundation:

Your foundation is your unarguable strengths and experience in your chosen area. To identify your own foundation, write down the strengths that differentiate you from the rest and ask your friends, family and colleagues/managers to do the same for you. Identify the top three to five overlapping strengths that support the career direction you want to pursue.

Beacon:

Your beacon is the memorable and consistent communication of your strengths and experience. Now that you have identified your foundation, it’s time to create your beacon by finding a word or phrase that represents these strengths and can become your brand. Develop a short pitch that can follow your brand, describing your strengths in more detail. Ensure that your word or phrase is versatile and can change with your direction.

Tower:

Simply put, your tower is your visibility, reach and presentation, both online and offline, which support the beacon. This is really everything you do to proactively build your personal brand. The higher you build your tower with your efforts, the more visible you will be to potential career stakeholders. Here are some ways to proactively build your brand and credibility in front of your target audience:

Create a LinkedIn profile and follow the suggested steps to complete your profile 100 percent, making sure you include your personal brand and pitch in your subtitle and summary sections.

Create a Google account and profile for improved search engine optimization.

Include your personal brand on your resume, cover letter, business cards, email signature, voicemail message and across your other social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook.

Consider creating a personal website/blog site where you can house all of your information, including experience, education, skills, honors, entrepreneurial efforts and more.

Start your own blog with a unique point of view on your industry/area of interest.

Contribute value in your book or product reviews, your tweets, your comments on other blog posts, your own blog articles or articles for print publications, your discussions in LinkedIn Groups and your advice via LinkedIn Answers or other forums.

Start a company full-time or on the side with relevant and valuable products/services/resources for the industry.

Publish and offer print and/or electronic publications.

Get quoted in the media by joining HARO (Help a Reporter Out) and contributing advice, experiences and insights to writers and journalists seeking expert sources.
Beam:

Your beam is your career direction and more active personal branding and career search strategy. It involves you gaining and projecting a strong understanding of where you want to go, what you want to pursue and how you will pursue it. First, you need to determine what functional area, geography and industries/companies you want to target. Then, you need to actively network your brand with potential career stakeholders. Here are some ways to start:

Join associations or networking groups within your industry and attend events to meet new contacts and build your target network. Be sure to share your personal brand with those new contacts.

Conduct informational interviews with target network contacts (whether or not you’re seeking a job) and share your personal brand with them in your introductions.

Find ways to bring fellow industry thought leaders together on a project or at an event.

Find ways to contribute to the projects or events of fellow industry experts.

Get recommended on LinkedIn and display testimonials from customers, clients and partners
Personal Application

I used this model to help develop my own personal brand during my MBA career search. Having identified my foundation to be my endless energy, out-of-the-box creativity, relationship building and problem solving, I looked for a word that could pull all of those strengths together into one memorable brand message. The beacon I chose was “generator” as I generate energy, creativity, relationships and solutions to problems. I was pursuing a career in marketing and brand management, and therefore, I became a brand and marketing generator. I proactively built my tower by incorporating my brand directly into my online profiles, my resumes and my entrepreneurial efforts. I then took a more active approach, targeting the “beam” by incorporating my personal brand in my interview responses, networking introductions and informational interview outreach. It was this process that helped me successfully secure my current employment, and this model continues to help guide all of my professional and entrepreneurial ventures.