Thank goodness it’s the end of the holiday season. No more ‘have you been away,’ or ‘what you need is a good holiday, why don’t you…’
It’s not that I don’t want to! It’s just so damn difficult. Look at the paucity and trauma of the pieces I have written on this in a lot of years! Consider also that we have only tried English speaking countries with a benevolent disability attitude so far! Imagine sorting out my travel problems anywhere else. My failure to manage wheelchair travel successfully really annoys me!
At home, with time, we solved most of our access issues. The moment we step outside of our home, my comfortable environment is gone and we need to replicate it as best we are able because my sadly limited body is extremely hostile to change.
We want to just get up and go, truly we do, but man, it is such hard work. Consider factoring these into your travel plans for every trip:
- Having to book as late as possible because you never know when your next relapse will occur – so, no forward planning beyond a few weeks.
- Paying at least double for insurance for you and EaZyD because normal insurance will not cover his cancellation for your pre-existing problems.
- Having to personally source, book and confirm all transport, hotels, equipment and some entertainment before your trip. Expect 90% failure: 10% success for every arrangement and at least 35% additional trip costs above your total base cost.
- Coping with so much blanket rejection, ‘Do you have…’ ‘No.’ ‘Would you…’ ‘No.’ ‘Is there…’ ‘No.’ It all gets very old very quickly.
- Having to pre-book cabs, for every trip you want to make whilst on holiday, from the UK before you even get there and paying at least double the price of any other cab. Spontaneity – out the window!
- Negotiating the airport ‘experience’ pushing a baggage trolley and a wheelchair – one hand on each – through crowds of people and aisles.
- Arguing with the check-in dolly for the seats you tried to pre-book, due to your special needs, that she has reallocated to a standing plonker who ‘wants to sit at the front.’
- Laboriously explaining the transfer procedure to the staff who are supposed to be helping you and then showing them how to do it!
- Holding your bladder for up to fourteen hours for a seven hour flight.
- Finding a safe place to leave your bags and wheelchair crip whilst desperately trying to locate the cab/car that was supposed to meet you which may/may not turn up and trying to get in whatever vehicle may have turned up and to your hotel in one piece.
- Finding you have no access to toilet or bathroom facilities after 14 hours of travel and cannot get into the bed in the room and there is no other seat for you.
- Finding the equipment you hired is not there/broken/the wrong thing and it is 5.50pm local time – you have 10 minutes to sort it out or every trip to the loo will involve three transfers and a lot of agony.
- Managing without essential equipment, sleeping in an armchair every night, having no bath/shower access for part/whole of your stay.
- Coping with additional pain, sleeping, dependence and mobility problems because the wheelchair and bed are not your regular – with all moving parts – equipment and the promised facilities are so inadequate.
- Trying to enjoy yourself despite all of the above?
- Going through it all again to get home.
Be clear – the moaning does not mean we will never do it again. We keep trying and we are, kind of, looking forward to trying more of the UK and Europe when we get a new car – and can travel with equipment! Not that we haven’t tried both before and failed abysmally but, hey, wet rooms are in vogue now and there is a disability discrimination act, no?
It just gets really hard to motivate yourself to do it and, frankly, who can be a*sed with this amount of hassle and expense? You’ve gotta really really want to go wherever so, next time you say to me, ‘you really need….’ Just hold that thought, ‘cos believe me, when I do, I will…
Luckily, London is a real pleasure over summer – no children, no people, bliss – and who wants to travel when everyone else does anyway!
(1st posted on SW Archive site: 2008)