If you could travel ANYWHERE in the world, where would you go? The Grand canyon? Paris France? New York? Disney World? Basically the sky is the limit, because many of these locations are accessible for people who use power chairs and scooters. And take it from me, I know first hand how challenging it can be to travel if you have special needs. I helped my mom who had Parkinson’s Disease for 30 years, and we had many family adventures. We learned to not let a wheelchair, walker, or portable oxygen get in our way. Needless to say, I picked up numerous tricks along the way, and here are a few to share.
Before you go, figure out how you are going to travel to your destination. Sometimes it is easier for people using power chairs or scooters to do a “road trip”. In fact, this option has become quite popular, as most major cities have companies like, Superior Van and Mobility, that rent wheelchair accessible vans by the day or week. However, if your dream destination happens to be to far to drive, there are always air travel and train options.
Some other tips…
1. Plan and pack ahead of time for any trip. Packing should start with a trip to the drug store to get all medications filled, and be sure to pickup duplicate bottles, plastic bags and anything else you may need on your trip. Take pictures of all the medications you take, and make a copy of your insurance card to keep elsewhere off your person. Also, be sure to include EVERYONE in the planning and packing stages of the trip. This will help in making sure nothing of necessity is left behind.
2. If taking a “road trip”, do a test run. This will help everyone involved feel good about the trip and less stressed. I suggest you pack up the vehicle, power chair, and a picnic basket and head to the park. All the while, pay particular attention to how much space and time it takes to get going, and how long everyone holds up in travel. Remember, power chairs and scooters have limited battery power, so work within those limits.
3. Bring food with you. It’s okay to snack on cereal, or even yogurt during a car ride. You should focus on bringing HEALTHY FOOD that EVERYONE CAN EAT and ENJOY! Try to stay away from foods high in sugar as they will aid in increasing drowsiness.
4. If you are driving, remember that it may be important to take breaks. Be creative with the breaks, and have some fun. We once stopped at a gas station because my brother saw a LIVE BEAR sign. We’ve also stopped just to visit the largest McDonalds in the world, many farmers markets, and more mom & pop stores than I can name. Taking breaks during the trip will help keep everyone from getting board, and in a much better mood.
5. Dress for comfort, and take things with you that make you feel comfortable. This may include your favorite slippers, music, videos, pillow, or stuffed animal.
6. Have a back up plan. You never know when someone might fall ill, or if the weather doesn’t want to cooperate. By having some flexibility in the trip you will not feel hard pressed to GO-GO-GO all day and night. Remember, this is a vacation…
7. Finally, remember to take your sense of humor, kindness, and an extra dose of patience with you. Many times people with special needs may need a bit more
time and understanding to enjoy things with you. We always seemed to find many activities that were both accessible, and fun for EVERYONE!
Lastly, I’ll leave you with this. Don’t let the planning of your trip ruin the experience. If overwhelmed, or fearful of leaving your comfort zone, ask for help. The world has so much to see, get out and enjoy every bit you can, but if you find yourself needing help, contact a professional vacation planner. You’ll be glad you did. Once such company is Vacation by V. They specialize in planning vacations for families with members who are physically challenged. They can handle all the details right up to actually planning the outings while at your destination. If you would like more information on Vacation by V, or would like a complimentary 20 minute vacation consultation, you can contact them by visiting www.vacationbyv.com.