Do you pack light, or are you an over-preparer? Will you fill a suitcase with clothes for every eventuality, or are you more inclined to take what you expect to need with the knowledge that you can buy things from local shops once you’ve reached your destination?
If you’re a wheelchair user, travelling comes with a whole additional concern that many don’t have to think about. Do you take your own wheelchair, or do you make use of wheelchair hire services?
You’re used to your own wheelchair. You’re comfortable in it. You understand it. You know what to expect. When you’re travelling you want to be focusing on your holiday – enjoying the sights, drinking fine wines, spending quality time with loved ones – and if you’re getting to grips with a strange wheelchair then you’re not giving relaxation and enjoyment your full attention.
Your wheelchair will be available whenever you need it, with no worries or stresses and no customer service representatives to negotiate with.
Hiring a wheelchair often means planning ahead a little more. You’ll need to book wheelchair hire at least 24 hours in advance, in most of the places that you visit. Some locations will require even more notice. You might need to make specific arrangements for your wheelchair, but there will be more places that you can just enjoy your day without thinking too far ahead.
Some hire-wheelchairs aren’t particularly well maintained. They might be old and well used. Not everyone will have looked after them as well as you take care of your chair. The wheels might be stiff, the padded seat less comfortable, and things may be more likely to go wrong.
Your wheelchair was probably selected by you, or by its provider, with your typical lifestyle in mind. It’s the right wheelchair for your home terrain and for navigating your world, but it may not be made for other locations. Wheelchairs provided in foreign countries might be more suited to your holiday experience, with different wheels for different terrains or with different features that you just don’t need when you’re shopping in your home town.
Wheelchairs are bulky items. Sometimes, transporting a wheelchair is more trouble than arranging wheelchair hire. If you’re travelling by plane then you’re likely to need to check your wheelchair in and borrow one whilst in the airport – some airlines also have complicated restrictions that will stop you from taking your wheelchair (particularly if electric) on board. If you’re visiting an attraction, you need a hire car or taxi with space for your chair. All weighed up, it might be easier to arrive at a theme park and borrow a hire wheelchair for the day.
If your wheelchair is an expensive one, you might have concerns about it getting damaged whilst travelling. Hiring a wheelchair will ensure that yours isn’t being thrown about by baggage handlers and won’t get damaged whilst you’re enjoying your break.
Your own wheelchair might be a large and heavy one. On holiday, you might instead prefer a compact and lightweight chair from a hire company.
Whatever decision you make, remember to take your favourite wheelchair accessories along for the ride. Whether you hire a wheelchair or take your own, customising your experience will make it more enjoyable.
Article submitted by Andrew Atkinson of Mobility Smart, an online retailer of wheelchair accessories and a wide range of other mobility products, for healthcare providers and individuals.