Friday, 25 March 2016

Travelling with a Disability

Easter break is upon us, and I'm looking forward to a break away with family.  I love travelling and camping but for me, having a disability often makes it a game of logistics.

I've never been a light packer, but this has become even more the case as I've got older and my disabilities have compounded and changed over time.  While it used to be the case that I'd pack about three times as much clothes as I'd need (this is probably down to only two times as much now - yay progress!), now I have extra equipment to take with me whenever I sleep somewhere.  Even an overnight trip's worth of packing looks like I'm set to go for a week with multiple bags and cases.  If I'm lucky, I'll be in good health (for me) and only need to bring my medication, my wheelchair, my biPap machine, and at least 3 cushions with me on top of the standard clothes and stuff able-bodied people would pack.  If I'm not so well or it's winter and my lungs are dodgy, I'll have to add a nebuliser and associated supplies to that list.  Space is a premium in any vehicles I'm travelling in as you can imagine.  Things will only get more interesting once I get the motorised wheelchair I'm set to get soon.

Also challenging can be finding a place with a suitable place to sleep that won't aggravate my back.  Often I have to bring some extra bedding to put under me to make the available bed soft enough for me to sleep on.  No stretchers or couch surfing for me, which leads to my only real grievance when it comes to travelling with my disabilities - there's little or no spontaneity.  Pretty much everything has to be planned.  The idea of being able to just decide on a whim to go somewhere is a luxury foreign to me, though I wish I could.  I can't sleep in the car if wherever we end up doesn't have anywhere to stay and sleep.  So I enjoy going places when I can.

Beach wheelchair
What I'm looking forward to most when I get my new wheelchair is being able to join my friends and family for walks when we're staying places.  It's always been a bit of a downer when I get left behind while everyone goes and enjoys a walk to see the sights when we're camping.  That said, many areas will still be inaccessible for myself and others with mobility related disabilities.  The beach and bush areas in particular pose issues for wheelchairs, so you can imagine my excitement about the existence of beach chairs and this chair for bushwalks and tramping!  I'd like to think that one day these will be available (perhaps for rental) for wheelchair users at all major parks and bushwalks and beaches.

So now I'm off to enjoy my Easter break with my family at a holiday home.  How are you spending your break?  Do you have any experience of travelling while disabled?  Share your experiences in the comments below.

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