We’ve all heard the nightmares – bent or broken chairs, hotel rooms that are anything but accessible, cobblestones, no dropped curbs… The list of obstacles to wheelchair travel goes on and on. But what about the positives?? Let’s slide into the New Year with a list of “perks” only those of us traveling in wheelchairs can understand!
- We have a seat everywhere we go! Crowded restaurants where everyone is standing outside while waiting for a table. Long lines at Disneyland rides. The mob of people in St. Peter’s Square. We get to chill out while in the sweltering heat in a seated position! All we have to worry about is running over the toes of small children and the inevitable cries of, Hey, can I get a ride?, You should get an air horn for that, and Maybe some rocket boosters would be cool…[insert eye roll here]. Bonus points if you can turn these into a drinking game.
- Those bathrooms, though. If you’re lucky enough to score a hotel room with a roll-in shower, you can recruit come friends to play roller hockey in your ginormous bathroom. AND you have enough space leftover to make some fondue with your buddies on the fold-down bench. The best part? If your friends get messy, clean up is a piece of cake.
- Getting up close and personal with everyone’s carry-on. How great is it that we get to board the airplane first? On a good day, we can even score more legroom in a bulkhead seat. But the real reward comes afterward, when the rest of the plane boards. You can now begin training for your first MMA fight as you start getting pummeled by backpacks, oversized handbags, roll-on suitcases, and miscellaneous body parts. At least you get some relief from the curious stares of small children who occasionally walk by.
- Finding out what your chair is REALLY made of. Even if your manual or power chair manages to escape the belly of your plane unscathed, who knows what perils await? But you’ll never find out if your chair’s manufacturer was on the up-and-up with you unless you subject your mobility aids to uneven sidewalks, high curbs, cobblestones, gravel, and miscellaneous lumpy fields. You may be trailing mud and picking blades of grass out of your wheels for a few days, but you’ll know your electric horse has been fully battle tested.
- You’ll become a de facto expert on plumbing and electricity. Chances are, you know the definition of (and difference between) voltage and amp hours, the specs of your power chair’s charger, and the appearance of outlets in multiple countries. Because what answer is more important than the one to the question, How am I going to charge my chair? You’re also intimately familiar with your showering and toileting needs, and have mastered the art of explaining them in a…delicate manner to hotel reservation agents.
I have no doubt you’ve experienced your own wheelchair travel “benefits” throughout the years, and I would love nothing more than to hear them in the comments. So when you come across some obstacles or challenges in your future travels with your wheelchair, just remember all these wonderful benefits you get to experience! Bon voyage, friends…