The most important thing to pack on a vacation when you are a wheelchair user is a POSITIVE ATTITUDE.
Traveling can be a great experience, but as a wheelchair user, it’s not always easy because many places are not wheelchair friendly, even in the United States.
I have traveled extensively since 2003, domestically and international before I became a travel specialist, specializing in accessible travel.
I remember a trip to Chicago in 2007, I was there for a conference. I needed to meet a then co-worker at a restaurant (4) blocks from my hotel. As I rolled down the sidewalk, I realized I could not cross the street because not all the sidewalks had curb ramps. My first reaction was panic and a few tears. I then took a deep breath and went back to my hotel. I went to the front desk and talked to the concierge about my dilemma. He explained that Chicago streets had multi- leveled sidewalks. (you had to walk upstairs that looked like the stairs in the movie the Exodus) to reach certain destinations. As for curb ramps, he stated that he never noticed that there were so few curb ramps to cross the streets in Chicago.
My first night in Chicago was spent with my co-worker mapping out accessible routes to all the places the conference events were being held. I need to get back to Chicago to see if improvements have been made. If anyone knows about Chicago’s accessibility improvements please leave a comment.
That same year my husband and I went on a Mediterranean cruise on the maiden voyage of the #CarnivalFreedom. We book a week of tours in Venice, Rome and the Vatican before our 12-day cruise voyage.
Our first stop was Venice and our first hurdle was that the airline lost my wheelchair. I cried then took a breath. The airport let us borrow a wheelchair. Most hotels in Venice within our budget were walk ups. I found a hotel in Mestre a city outside of Venice. We went to our hotel with our barrow wheelchair. While checking in we ask the front desk using our electronic translator where could we find a medical supply store. At the time, I was more mobile and I knew from photos the room and bathroom were on the small side but it did have a walk-in shower. I was hoping to buy crutches to be able to get around the room easier.
At the time, I was more mobile and I knew from photos the room and bathroom were on the small side but it did have a walk-in shower. I was hoping to buy crutches to be able to get around the room easier.
We found a medical supply store and I got new European style, hot pink crutches for (40) euros. ($40). That was a bargain, my American crutches cost me ($150). I used the airport wheelchair for (2) days, on the night of day (2) my wheelchair showed up at the hotel.
For (3) days my husband and I would go to Venice via Mestre. We would get up, eat breakfast, then wait for the public bus in front of the hotel. The bus would take us to the pier, at the pier we would take a water taxi to Venice. The bus had (1) step and each morning passengers on the bus would help my husband lift my wheelchair on and off the bus. I love the Italians they love helping tourists.
At the pier, the water taxi was able to accommodate my wheelchair. Once in Venice we enjoyed the sights and eats of Venice.
As a traveler with a disability, it’s ok to get anxious and cry a bit when things go wrong, but regroup and think of a solution and enjoy the scenery.
Get more tips on traveling with a disability by clicking belowTips For Traveling with a Disability