Lets be honest, most things are harder when you have a disability. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t go out and do the things we enjoy. With a little forward planning we can reduce potential difficulties and have the great time we all deserve. Knowing how to reduce difficulties can be hard. So I’ve put together my tips for days out as a wheelchair user. I hope you find them helpful! Most of them are transferable for any disability.
*This post was sponsored by Fish Insurance. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. Please see my disclaimer for more information.
Tips For Days Out As A Wheelchair User: Phone Ahead (or email if you’d prefer)
This isn’t a necessity, because you are under no obligation as a wheelchair user to tell a venue that you’re coming. However, I’ve found it helpful when going to new places to phone ahead. This gives me the opportunity to ask any questions I may have about the venue. It also means that if the facilities aren’t up to scratch, for example, the disabled toilet used as a storage cupboard, ramp broken or stored in a silly place, etc., the venue have a change to fix it before your arrival. This will reduce the number of times you’ll turn up to find the disabled toilet isn’t useable because it’s full of clutter that shouldn’t be there. This doesn’t excusing places that don’t keep their disabled facilities up to scratch, but it does reduce the chance that you as the wheelchair user will be inconvenienced.
Tips For Days Out As A Wheelchair User: Ask The Right Questions
It’s all very well getting in contact with the venue you’re going to, but this will only be partly beneficial if you don’t ask the right questions. This is something I’ve learnt from experience. When Dan and I went to Center Parcs, Woburn, I asked if it was far from the changing rooms to the swimming pool. I was told that it wasn’t. To that member of staff, it wasn’t. But to me, it was verging on impossible. What I learnt from this experience was that it’s important to ask specific questions like, “how many meters is it from the changing room to the swimming pool?” This way you’re asking for a fact and not an opinion.
Some of the questions you may wish to ask when speaking to a venue are:
Do you have any steps into or around the venue?
How far is it from the car park to the venue?
Where are your disabled toilets located?
What facilities does your disabled toilet include?
Do you have a discount ticket price for disabled visitors?
How wide are your door frames? (useful information for those with big power chairs or bariatric wheelchairs.
Do you have a cafe? (for those who are travelling by public transport and can’t carry lunch with them)
Tips For Days Out As A Wheelchair User: Choose Your Transport Carefully
Different days out will require different forms of transport, depending on what you’re doing and how much stuff you need to take with you. If you need to take things with you, like a picnic basket or a change of clothes, driving will probably be easier for you than taking the train. You don’t want to load your wheelchair up with stuff as it will make it heavier, and harder to push. However, if parking at the venue is central, the train may be a better option. Unfortunately, I’m not medically allowed to drive because of my basilar type migraine, so my only option is to go by public transport unless I’m going out with a friend or family member who can and is willing to drive.
If you’re a wheelchair use and travel by car (whether your’e a driver or not) you can apply for a Blue Badge. This allows you to park closer to venues and in some cases exempts you from car parking fees. It’s worth investigating where the nearest car park is and how many disabled spaces (for those with blue badges) they have available.
If you use the train regularly, it’s worth applying for a Disabled Person’s Rail Card. There is a fee for £20 per year (£54 for three years) for a disabled person’s rail card, but this entitles your to 1/3 off most rail fares. It’s also a helpful prop for those with invisible disabilities when asking for a priority seat. I initially got mine for this reason. If you’re travelling by train, it’s worth considering booking assistance and a priority seat. You don’t need a disabled person’s rail card to book assistance and/or a priority seat.
If you’re travelling in London, wheelchair and mobility scooter users are exempt from paying for their journey. So if you’re trying to reduce the cost of your day out, this worth remembering. You can find out more about this on the TFL website.
Tips For Days Out As A Wheelchair User: Plan Your Route and Activities
Planning your route can greatly reduce fatigue and, for those who self-propel, arm ache. If you need to get from a car park to your destination, do you know the directions? If not, you could end up taking the long route or coming across cobbles. By planning your route, you can avoid or at least reduce the chance of this happening. Google Maps is a good way to get an idea of the terrain before you visit.
But don’t just limit your planning to getting to your destination. Once you’re at the venue, have you thought about what you’ll be doing? If you go to a theme park, you don’t want to spend all your energy in one area of the park, only to realise when you’re too tired that you’ve missed one of your favourite rides. A little forward planning, to include breaks for food and drink (and resting your arms if you’re self-propelling) can go a long way to helping you make it through the day.
Tips For Days Out As A Wheelchair User: Charging Points For Powered Mobility
If you use a power chair, mobility scooter or power assist wheels and are going out for a long day, you may need to consider charging points. Even if you don’t think you’ll need one, it’s worth knowing where you’ll be able to charging your chair or scooter in case of emergency.
Tips For Days Out As A Wheelchair User: Consider The Weather
As wheelchair users, the weather is a little more of a consideration in planning a day out than it would be for most people. Because you’re sitting down, your legs get rained on. Sitting in wet trousers is no fun at all. Self-propelling in the rain is also tiresome. Your hands get wet and your sleeves end up soaking and muddy. Checking the weather forecast when you make plans isn’t always practical if you’re planning in advance, but where possible it can save you from getting soaked and feeling miserable.
Tips For Days Out As A Wheelchair User: Storage If You Need To Leave Your Wheelchair
Sometimes, you might do something that you to want or need to leave your wheelchair for. For example, when we go to the cinema, I prefer to sit in one of the comfy gold class Lazy Boy seats (Dan is tall and gets really uncomfortable in standard class). But I also don’t like to leave my wheelchair at the back of the theatre. It’s probably silly, but I worry about my £2,000 chair being at the back of a dark room, near the door, where someone could easily slip in and out without being seen. So we request in advance that my chair be left at the front of the cinema theatre, where the only people who have access to the area are the theatre staff. This allows me to relax and watch the film, knowing my chair is safe.
Tips For Days Out As A Wheelchair User: Repair Kit
Imagine being out for the day and getting a flat tyre or loosing an important screw from your wheelchair. Would you be able to fix the problem, even temporarily and continue with your day? Or would you have to give up and go home? Keeping a few essentials to fix common problems (like punctures) could save your day out.
Tips For Days Out As A Wheelchair User: Insurance
Insurance is probably not something that you’d consider important for a day out, but what would you do if something happened to your wheelchair or scooter while out and about? Whether your wheelchair cost £150 or £10,000, being without it for any length of time is at best an inconvenience and at worse devastating. With the right insurance, your wheelchair will be fixed or replaced quickly, without you having to cover the cost. I wouldn’t be without the peace of mind that having both my wheelchair and mobility scooter insured brings.
While my wheelchair is covered by our house insurance, this is a rare. My wheelchair therapist was surprised when I told her. While my wheelchair is covered by our house insurance, my mobility scooter isn’t. So don’t fall into the trap of assuming your lifeline is insured under your household insurance. It probably won’t be.
Fish Insurance are disability insurance specialists. They understand the devastation that damage to mobility aids can bring. Imagine being stuck somewhere because you’re wheelchair has broken or been damaged. How on earth will you get home? With Fish Insurance, part of your policy includes a get-you-home allowance, reducing the stress of a very upsetting situation. So you can go out knowing that if something happens to your wheelchair or mobility scooter you’ll be taken care of. Not only do Fish Insurance cover wheelchairs and mobility scooters, they also offer insurance for Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles and adapted cars. In addition, Fish Insurance have a Hub that provides information on various disability related issues, like how to choose a wheelchair accessible vehicle.
What are your essentials for a great day out?
Do you need to take anything extra into consideration when you go out?
Find me on:
You can also sign up for my newsletter!