This article is part of the wheelchair travel blog series, Accessible Travel and Trip Planning. In this series, I’ll take you behind the scenes of how I plan and construct wheelchair accessible trips to destinations in the United States and around the world.

When planning a wheelchair accessible trip, regardless of the destination, there are a few important questions that I need to answer — how will I get there, how will I get around, and where will I stay? Since I am a triple amputee and power wheelchair user, I have to consider accessibility at each step. In this series, I’ll lead you through my travel planning process to see how it’s done. Let’s get started!

Trip Details

Here are a few details about the circumstances surrounding my trip:

  • Destination: Dallas, Texas
  • Purpose/Goal of Trip: A rare Total Solar Eclipse will pass through the United States in 2024, so I asked readers of the Wheelchair Travel Newsletter to vote on where I should travel to see it. A plurality of voters (some 39%) chose Dallas, so that’s where I’m off to — hopefully to take in an awe-inspiring sight!
Poll results from readers who told me where to travel for the Solar Eclipse. Dallas received more votes than Buffalo, Cleveland and Indianapolis.
  • Trip Length: I need to be in St. Louis both before and after the trip, so I wanted to limit the trip length to two days and a single night.

With that out of the way, let’s get started in answering those three pressing questions.

How will I get to Dallas, Texas?

Though St. Louis and Dallas are in the same time zone, the cities are 630 miles and about 10 hours apart from one another by car. I searched for other forms of ground transportation, and noted that the fastest route on the wheelchair accessible Greyhound Lines bus service is 15 hours, 40 minutes, and the only rail option (Amtrak’s Texas Eagle service) is only 5 minutes faster. That’s simply too long to travel on a bus or train, so I had to shift my focus to air travel.

John Morris, seated in his wheelchair on the lift of a Greyhound Bus.

Two airlines have fortress hubs in Dallas — American Airlines at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) and Southwest Airlines at Dallas Love Field (DAL), and both carriers have non-stop flights between St. Louis and Dallas that are scheduled for 2 hours or less. Since I was booking this trip on fairly short notice, airfares were higher than normal — about $450 for a round-trip ticket.

That’s a steep price to pay for an overnight adventure, but thankfully I had another option — frequent flyer miles! The cost of those same flights was just 7,000 American Airlines miles each way, for a total round-trip cost of 14,000 miles and $11.20 in fees, saving me more than $400 in real money.

American Airlines Boeing 737 aircraft used on flight AA 228.
American Airlines Boeing 737 aircraft.

The flights will be operated on a Boeing 737-800 aircraft, which is one of my favorite planes — but there’s a catch. The clearance on the airplane cargo door is just 33 inches, meaning I’ll have to reduce the height of my power wheelchair before handing it over in the airport. If you’re planning to fly, be sure to check out my Guide to Airplane Cargo Door Dimensions for Wheelchair Users. It’s also a good idea to tag your wheelchair with the Return Wheelchair to Aircraft Door and Wheelchair Must Be Loaded Upright notification tags.

How will I get around in Dallas, Texas?

I have opined extensively about the lack of wheelchair taxis in Dallas, but there is limited (often unavailable) wheelchair accessible Lyft service in the city. One big problem, as is the case in other cities like Houston, Texas, is that the accessible Lyft service area does not include Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, meaning there is no wheelchair accessible private transportation at one of America’s largest airports — unless you want to shell out hundreds for non-emergency medical transportation.

Wheelchair accessible public transportation in Dallas, Texas.

That leaves public transportation as my only option — fortunately, wheelchair accessible public transit in Dallas is good, consisting of city bus, light rail, and a modern street car line. The light rail’s Orange Line serves DFW airport, and connects riders to downtown, where I’ll hope to spend most of my time.

Where will I stay in Dallas, Texas?

Many people are traveling to Dallas to see the Total Solar Eclipse, which has shot room rates to the moon (pun intended) and resulted in sellouts at many properties. I have visited Dallas quite a few times before and reviewed several hotels there, including The Adolphus Hotel, Aloft Dallas Downtown, Hyatt Regency DFW Airport, and the Omni Dallas Hotel. But, since I’m in search of new experiences (and hotels) to share with readers like you, I decided to stay somewhere new.

I set a few criteria in my search:

  • Wheelchair accessible hotel room — It was important that I be able to confirm an accessible room type when booking.
  • Proximity to public transportation — Since public transit will be my primary mode of transport, I searched for hotels a short distance from a light rail station, which I considered to be half a mile or less.
  • Price of accommodation — Given the high cost of hotel rooms in the city, I wanted to find a hotel that wasn’t too overpriced, regardless of whether I ultimately booked with cash or reward points.

Since the trip hasn’t happened yet, I won’t share my hotel location (but will update this article following the trip), however I was able to meet each of my top three criteria. Hotels were filling up fast, so I did not do as much due diligence on the accessibility as I would have liked, however I expect things should turn out alright. If you’d like to learn more about what proper due diligence looks like in confirming accessibility at a hotel, check out guest blogger Amin Lakhani’s article, Step-by-Step Guide to Verifying Hotel Accessibility in Advance.

As a matter of convenience, I chose a hotel that was between DFW Airport and downtown Dallas — this helped me to save money, but also means getting around will be easy given the hotel is only a few blocks away from a light rail station.

Additional Considerations

If this trip were longer, I would have put more time into planning my itinerary, with a key fourth question being “what will I do and where will I eat in Dallas?” But on this occasion, I really have only one concern — where will I watch the solar eclipse?

Cotton Bowl Stadium with Dallas skyline in the background.
Cotton Bowl Stadium. | Photo courtesy Fair Park Dallas.

Many of the local events, including one at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science and another at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, have been sold out for some time. I was able to score tickets for the Sun, Moon, and You Solar Eclipse Viewing Event, which is being hosted by NASA, NOAA and the National Science Foundation at the Cotton Bowl. The plethora of activities there are appealing, including an appearance by Neil deGrasse Tyson, though I do wonder if the eclipse might be better viewed in seclusion, rather than a stadium that holds tens of thousands?

Since I will be in Dallas for about 36 hours and the eclipse lasts only 4 minutes, I will have time for other activities — I have already consulted the list of 18 Wheelchair Accessible Things to Do in Dallas, Texas. I have friends in the city and may even squeeze in a business meeting, so I’m planning to keep my schedule flexible and take things as they come.

Final Thoughts

This is going to be a fun trip and, although my planning was made easier due to my familiarity with the destination city, I sill find myself consulting the Wheelchair Accessible Travel Guide to Dallas, Texas that is found on this website. This look into the planning of a trip is a new series, and I’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Would you like to see more of these travel planning articles?

If you’d like to support my work in creating high-quality accessible travel content, please consider purchasing a paid subscription to the Wheelchair Travel Newsletter. You’ll get articles like this in your inbox, plus other content that does not appear on this website. Your support helps keep the lights on in these parts and is greatly appreciated!