It’s difficult to know what to anticipate when traveling with a family member who has trouble getting around. Here are tips from experienced, disabled travelers to reduce your road-trip stress this summer.
If your travel includes hotel lodging:
- Talk directly with the hotel. Many hotel chains have a centralized reservation system. Get a direct, on-site number instead. Then ask to speak with the head of housekeeping or engineering. With their intimate knowledge of the building, you can ask them to describe the disability features: How wide are the doorways? Does the bathroom have grab bars? And don’t forget to ask about access to the hotel from the street!
- Reserve the room. Confirm that you are guaranteed an “accessible” room. Reconfirm a few days in advance of your arrival. If your room is not available or not accessible, ask to speak with the manager. It is the hotel’s responsibility to find you suitable alternate lodgings.
You might also consider bringing these items. You’ll find them sold online or at medical supply stores.
- A folding ramp. An easy way to eliminate a short flight of stairs when visiting relatives or stores not equipped to accommodate people with disabilities.
- Safety items for the bathroom. Consider a lightweight toilet seat extender. (Sitting higher up on the “throne” reduces the chance of falling when getting on or off the toilet.) For bathing, look for a suction-based grab bar or folding shower bench and slip-on shower hose. Add nightlights to improve visibility after dark.
- Chair comfort. Bring a lap blanket and special pillows if your family member will be spending a lot of time sitting. Or a small fan to help with cooling. A swivel seat cushion may help a lot with getting in/out of the car.
To help your loved one join in excursions, consider a transport wheelchair. These lightweight wheelchairs have smaller wheels and can preserve your family member’s energy. All transport chairs fold, but some are made specifically for travel and can pack easily in a small bag.