I need to expand on my previous traveling advice. I found I have more to learn to travel successfully with mobility issues.
I recently traveled using my tips to pick a house to rent on a lake. I used my tips to pour over descriptions, pictures, and even to contact the owner with questions. Picture perspectives, the most flattering camera angle and what the photographer thinks would be of interest, can deceive and hide issues like too narrow doorways, narrow walking/rolling paths, multitude of scatter rugs, tree root damaged paths, path tilts, and sometimes even room tiers. Simple things like running water may need to be turned on at an underground valve. I did not know about the water valve until I was sent the checkin and checkout directions 2 days before my stay. It’s a good thing I had someone able to do this with me.
My most frightening wheelchair ride yet was down a brick path riddled with tree root bumps, side slanted down hill to a lake, and was slightly too steep leading to a boathouse. The combined weight of me and the power chair is about 180 pounds. The slope was steep enough to pull me and the chair without me engaging forward motion. Having the chair in ‘drive’ mode and not engaging motion is usually the same as brakes. I had my adult daughter in front controlling the speed and steering. A son behind also controlling the speed. Another son was watching me lean uphill and holding on while he looked for tree root bumps behind my daughter. This was more frightening than having my boys pushing me through a parking lot curious how fast the chair could go.
The house owner had no real understanding what wheelchair accessible means. Her working definition is that a previous owner used a wheelchair. The wheelchair must have been a reason for selling the house. Furniture arrangements, decorating style, and room additions are all factors too. We moved a multitude of scatter rugs. In advance I asked if I could access the backyard from the driveway by wheelchair. Yes, by going easily around one side of the house, she said. This was over sets of landscape timbers and through I believe a neighbor’s grass. Most people’s grass yards are not golf course smooth. The neighbor also had a no tresspassing sign. I kept going anyway to the tree root bumped brick path to the boathouse.
Tip: If you see ‘wheelchair accessible’ as an amenity, ask their reason for giving that label. Make sure the reason describes real access to all parts of the property.
Tip: Ask if you will need to turn on/off any utilities and if so, where the on/off is located.
I have come across two websites designed to help identify some wheelchair accessible travel. A Google search will show more but these two seemed useful for me.
- All Trails www.alltrails.com – give a location and set filters (including wheelchair accessible) and potential trails with descriptions, trail maps, reviews, user recordings are provided. This site has its own app in Google Play.,
- Accessible Travel Made Smart www.accessiblego.com – is powered by priceline and in addition to offering filters for various levels of access from braille elevator control to roll in showers, they will confirm with the hotel that *your* requirements can/will be met if you book more than 48 hours in advance. This site also has accessibility information on different cruise lines and locations.
Have you found any useful accessible travel tips, apps, or websites? If so, please share in a comment.