After a 4300 mile road trip, I have come to the conclusion that it is indeed possible to have a wheelchair vacation. But to have a good vacation there are some helpful pieces of mobility equipment that can make it easier.
1) A Beach Wheelchair–I had never heard of these until I asked our hotel if they had one that existed (Sarita Hotel, Pete Beach, Florida). They are truly amazing! They go easily through thick sand making it possible for your loved one to get right to the water. Not all hotels have beach wheelchairs. And in some places where they are advertised, they really aren’t very available (Jekyll Island, GA), but regardless, call ahead and find out what is possible.
If you want to buy one they are quite expensive, around $1000, but I’m curious if someone could make one themselves. They are basic PVC pipe construction with large, inflated wheels (which might be expensive). I’m also curious if they go over other difficult terrain as well. Thankfully because of that my LO did not have to miss out on beautiful views.
2) Showering with a bathroom bench–This is without doubt my LO’s most hated equipment. But when we were in a wheelchair, it was a lifesaver at night. I just put it between the two hotel beds and it made for a quick transfer for bathroom needs. Then when we needed the shower, I just lowered the legs on one side, removed the bucket and it became a shower bench. Super handy.
3) Hand Grabber–Not all showers had good grab bars or any for that matter. You can ask for a handicap accessible hotel room but the rooms are not always available. When they’re not, having a removable shower handle grip is very helpful for your LO.
4) A Reacher–A long pair of tongs or a gripper, reacher we found was important. There was always a need to be able to reach something and I couldn’t always do so while driving, at least not safely.
A Wheelchair Vacation is Possible–Don’t Hesitate just because it has Unique Challenges!
Our biggest thing was just going for it. Some places were accessible and some were not. Yes, it was extra work managing a wheelchair but so very worth it. Caregiving is about living and not just surviving. And that’s true not just for your loved one, but also for you.