Activities And Tips For Wearing A Walking Boot When Travelling

There’s no good time to get a foot injury. It’s always a bummer. You may have to wear a walking boot for your next holidays, or for many weekends in a row. Does it jeopardise your trip? You’ll surely have to make a few adjustments, but it doesn’t mean it’s ruined.

I play soccer and had leg and foot injuries more times than I can count. A few of them involved crutches, and once I had to wear a walking boot. It was right before our Christmas break. Although I had to change our exciting plans for our trips to the Mornington Peninsula and the Blue Mountains, I still managed to have fun travelling while wearing a walking boot.

I hope my experience can help other injured travellers stay positive and look forward to their trip despite the unfortunate situation. I’m sharing below some tips and examples of activities I managed to do on holidays while wearing a walking boot or being on crutches. Before reading these lists, please understand that every condition is different. If you have an injury, you should always ask advice to a healthcare professional before getting involved in any of these activities.

Activities And Tips For Wearing A Walking Boot When Travelling
Activities And Tips For Wearing A Walking Boot When Travelling

Tips For Wearing A Walking Boot When Travelling

1. Talk to your doctor

Again, the best person to provide tips for wearing a walking boot is your doctor or physio. I felt I didn’t ask enough questions to mine. They know knows your injury and can give you advice on what you can and cannot do, and also what you can try to do and when you should stop.

2. Learn how to use the boot before the trip

It’s quite simple to wear a walking boot, but there are a few tricks that you should know to be comfortable. It’s harder to find them out along the way when discomfort appears and you may have fewer options to fix it.

A few tips I wish I knew about how to use the orthopaedic boot before going on holidays:

  • Start to close the straps on the toes and then move up;
  • It’s an art to have the straps tight enough to avoid movement but without cutting off the blood flow – so check your foot often, don’t wait until it hurts;
  • The air chambers can help limit movement, and it is sometimes enough to inflate/deflate as the swollen foot evolves, rather than redoing all the straps;
  • Wear a shoe balancer* on the not injured foot if you plan to walk a lot, so your leg height isn’t uneven, and you avoid hip and lower back pain;
  • Wear high large socks to limit your sweat on the liner of the walking boot as it’s not easy to clean (and dry!).

3. Be mindful of the floor surface

When you are in a familiar environment, you are so used to the floor surfaces that you don’t even think about it anymore. When travelling, you encounter different floor surfaces. Some can be slippery. Some can be uneven. You’ll have to take extra care as a walking boot isn’t like your usual shoe sole. It may have less grip for example, and your balance is also affected.

Tips For Wearing A Walking Boot When Flying

You don’t want to just show up with your injury as a surprise. It will be a bad experience both for you and for the airport staff. Call the airline before your trip to let them know about your reduced mobility and special needs. They are often willing to make efforts so your trip is more comfortable.

Ask for a wheelchair

No one likes the idea of going in a wheelchair. If you can walk, you may have the feeling that you’re making your injury bigger than it actually is. When all you wish is to go back to walking normally, accepting a wheelchair ride feels like regressing. But do yourself a favour and ask for a wheelchair at the airport. Keep your energy for the activities that are fun and worth making efforts.

At the airport, you may have to cover long distances to your gate, and you may also be happy to avoid potential stairs. Being in a wheelchair and getting assistance from staff will also make it a lot easier, especially if you travel with a carry-on bag. I never like being on a wheelchair, but it has one perk: it cuts down a lot the time you waste queueing at the airport (when going through security, when boarding the plane…). Without a wheelchair, you may not even be able to find a seat during these waiting periods.

Make sure you arrive early and don’t have a tight schedule when you land. You sometimes have to wait for transfers or the lift to the plane.

Be prepared for airport security

I read that some airport security might ask you to remove your walking boot. If that’s not an option for you, it could be helpful to carry a letter from your specialist doctor to support your claims during the discussion.

Find leg room in the plane

A corridor seat is tempting as it will offer more space to extend your leg in the aisle and move. However, in such a narrow environment, it comes with the risk of someone stumbling upon your injured foot. And it isn’t ideal if you have people sitting by your side as they may need to pass over you to get to their seats or move during the flight. As I’m short and didn’t need elevation or movement, I’d have felt more comfortable with a window seat with my injured foot protected.

If you can pay the extra fee to get a seat with extra legroom, that would be the most comfortable option. Remember the exit rows are out of the question as you are unable to assist during an emergency.

Did you injure your foot during your holidays? Check if your travel insurance can cover an upgrade to business or first class.

Suggestions for fun activities to do when travelling with an orthopaedic boot

Most destinations offer activities for people with special needs. Depending on your foot injury, you should be able to do activities that are accessible to people in wheelchairs, families with strollers or seniors with reduced mobility.

I recommend looking for resources about accessible travel in your destination. Tourist information centres may have something ready. In Australia, the Good Scout is doing an amazing job.

I highly recommend calling operators to ask questions about accessibility and reviewing photos when you are making travel plans.

1. Road trip

A road trip is ideal as it doesn’t require using your legs most of the time. There are some road trip destinations where you don’t need to walk for too long to get the best views. You can hop off the car only a few metres away from a stunning lookout.

Three Sisters Echo Point Blue Mountains Katoomba
Echo Point lookout in the Blue Mountains is easy to access

2. Walking

If your injury isn’t too bad, you may be allowed to walk as much as you want with the orthopedic boot. Ask your doctor about it. Mine was okay with it, as long as I was cautious of course and listening to my body.

Make sure you wear a shoe balancer*. I didn’t realise the walking boot was making my legs uneven before I had terrible hip pain. A shoe balancer* rises the foot that isn’t injured so it’s at the same height than the foot wearing a walking boot.

When you start walking with your orthopedic boot, you’ll want to go progressively to test your resistance. Accessible tracks like boardwalks are the best to begin with.

I was able to complete grade 3 hikes at Wentworth Falls and Pulpit Rock with an injured foot and a walking boot in the Blue Mountains, but I started with a flatter and shorter stroll!

Activities And Tips For Wearing A Walking Boot When Travelling
Activities And Tips For Wearing A Walking Boot When Travelling
Activities And Tips For Wearing A Walking Boot When Travelling

3. Canoeing/kayaking

You don’t need your foot to paddle. However, it may be challenging to get in the canoe. It will be easier if you can get in from a pier. If you’re embarking from the shore, you may need someone’s help as you don’t want to get your walking boot all wet. Putting a plastic bag around it protects from splashes, but won’t resist submersion.

When I went canoeing with my walking boot, I removed it while on the canoe and placed it in a waterproof bag. This way, it wouldn’t get wet, but I still had it with me should something happen that would require me to walk. Again, I asked my physio for approval beforehand. Some injury requires wearing the boot at all time.

4. Joining a boat cruise

That’s even easier than canoeing. Once on the boat, you need to find a great spot and stick to it. It only works if you have someone willing to bring whatever you may need. Indeed, finding your balance may be challenging if you try to walk while the boat is moving.

As often, the best is to call the operator and explain your condition. If they know in advance, they should be able to arrange a few extra services to make your cruise more comfortable.

I ended up having crutches for our trip to Sydney for the Vivid Festival. There was no way I could deal with the crowd and standing up for hours. So we ended up booking a cruise around Sydney Harbour to view some of the light show. Although it wasn’t our initial plan, we had a fantastic time!

Activities And Tips For Wearing A Walking Boot When Travelling

5. Snorkeling

If you are wearing a walking boot to avoid putting weight on a particular area on your foot – which was my case with my midfoot injury, you may consider snorkelling. Ask your doctor about it.

Like for canoeing, the access will be challenging. And you’ll have to choose a safe place without current, so you don’t need to use your foot. With a flotation device and a line, or a friend, you won’t need to make many efforts with your legs.

6. Paragliding and parasailing

During a paragliding tandem flight, you kind of sit, relax and enjoy the views. The take-off and landing will be challenging parts. In Rainbow Beach (near Fraser Island in Australia), my instructor could handle them with me just lifting my legs so I wouldn’t use my injured knee. However, it may depend on a few other things that I’m not aware of.

The best way to know if it can work in your situation is to ask!

7. Skydiving

You don’t need your legs to free fall from an airplane. And your instructor will manage the landing. Isn’t it incredible that you may be able to do one of the craziest things ever while wearing a walking boot? I have a friend who did this in New Zealand.

8. Eating and drinking

It could be the most appropriate time to enjoy a foodie experience. Some destinations are all about food and drinks. You should be able to access wineries, breweries, and restaurants with a walking boot without too many efforts. Bonus: you won’t have to take part in the debate about who will be the driver!

In the Mornington Peninsula, we spent some time visiting a distillery and a winery.

Activities And Tips For Wearing A Walking Boot When Travelling
Activities And Tips For Wearing A Walking Boot When Travelling

9. Going to the beach

Depending on your level of mobility, you won’t be able to go to any beach, unfortunately. Walking on sand is a lot harder than on a hard surface. I tried with crutches, and it was a full-on workout session for my arms.

Some beaches have beach mats that make them accessible for wheelchairs. It’s also a lot easier to walk on the beach mat when you have a foot injury.

10. Cultural activities

I’m a huge fan of outdoor activities. But I sometimes enjoy going indoors for an opportunity to learn more about the culture of the destination I’m visiting. If, like me, you’re not fond of museums, how about art galleries, shows or even classes? They are calm activities that you can do when wearing a walking boot.

Some museums and art galleries are big and require a lot of walking and standing. You may want to ask before if there are some seating opportunities during the visit.

Activities And Tips For Wearing A Walking Boot When Travelling
Learning about Australia’s History in the Blue Mountains

Have you ever travelled when wearing a walking boot? Share your tips in the comments below!

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Activities And Tips For Wearing A Walking Boot When Travelling
Activities And Tips For Wearing A Walking Boot When Travelling

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