In the early days of BJ’s diagnosis I didn’t want to have any of the items on the list below. I didn’t think we needed any extra allowances, but over time I’ve found that these can make life easier. Particularly when we are out and about for a day or when we are travelling it’s crazy not to do everything possible to make things as easy as possible.
1. MLAK KEY
A MLAK Key allows access to locked accessible bathroom facilities around Australia. We like the idea of locked accessible bathrooms as they are usually cleaner and in good order. Attaching it to your wheelchair will ensure you always have it with you when you need it. We are noticing more accessible bathrooms are locked now so it’s worth investing in a MLAK key.
You can read more about getting one from a Master Locksmith here.
You can order from Brightsky online here.
2. COMPANION CARD
The Australian Companion Card can be used at many travel attractions throughout Australia including shows and events like The Sydney Festival. Eligible cardholders can purchase a ticket or payan entry fee and receive a free ticket for their companion.
You can read more about the Companion Card here.
3. QANTAS CARER CONCESSION CARD
Available on Qantas domestic flights for travellers with a disability where that person has high level support needs and a carer is necessary to assist during the flight. Nominated carers are eligible for a 50% discount on domestic Red e-deal and Flex economy fares. The cardholder is eligible for a 10% discount on Qantas flights.
On Business Class fares cardholders and carers are eligible for 50% discount.
The Qantas Carer Concession Card is valid for 2 years. You can apply here.
You can read more about our experience with the card here.
4. DISABLED PARKING PERMIT
When transferring BJ from the car into his wheelchair we find the extra width of these spaces invaluable. We also find it handy for our days in the city to allow us to park for longer in street car spaces.
According to the Roads and Maritime website, “All Australian states and territories participate in the Australian Disability Parking Scheme, so you can use your NSW permit elsewhere, as long as it’s valid and current.”
If travelling overseas or travelling to Australia from overseas make sure you check the FIA Foundation for information about parking permit reciprocal agreements here.
We found out prior to our trips to the US that there are agreements in place that allowed us to use our Australian parking permit in the US as long as we printed out and displayed on our dashboard the agreement appropriate to where we were travelling. We used this system while we travelled throughout California and had no problem with it. We checked with a parking ranger in Santa Monica and he was familiar with it so we felt confident using it. Make sure you display your Australian parking permit near the rear view mirror, as this is where US residents display theirs. Also print out a couple of copies of the parking agreement to have in the car in case you lose one. The parking permit really benefited us while we were travelling. Read the information carefully and follow the local parking laws.
Click on the map and choose the country you are visiting. When you are on that country’s reciprocal agreement page (assuming they have one) you’ll find information about the agreement and a print out button at the base. This is what you print out to put on your dashboard along with your Australian disabled parking permit.
You can see an example of the US agreement we printed here Print it out here
5. TAXI VOUCHERS
We used to always park at the airport parking stations but now find using an accessible taxi cheaper thanks to the Taxi vouchers.
You can read about your local taxi subsidy scheme and apply here –
6. NATIONAL PUBLIC TOILET MAP
As part of the National Continence Program, the Toilet Map provides information on over 16,000 publicly available toilets across Australia, including accessibility, opening hours and facilities, such as showers & baby change.
You can download the app or use the search on the National Public Toilet Map website here. If you are driving between two points you can even put in your start point and destination and plan stops at accessible toilet stops along the way.
You can read more about my travel tips for bathrooms including airline toilets here.
7. ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE AND POWER CHAIR FLAT TYRES
Living in NSW we use NRMA roadside assistance and have found they provide excellent roadside assistance, with priority given to people with a disability. I’ve even found they’ve prioritised my call out when I’ve needed to take BJ somewhere or pick him up. You simply mention it when you make the call for assistance. I assume this would be standard with all roadside assistance services.
NRMA also provide assistance with power chairs when they get a flat tyre. Once again, I assume other roadside assistance services do the same but I’d appreciate people from other states confirming this in comments below.
Thanks to Toni for reminding me of the Essential Medical Equipment Rebate. Although non-travel related it’s worth mentioning as it covers power wheelchairs and many other pieces of equipment.
The Essential Medical Equipment Payment is an annual payment of $152 for people who have extra home energy costs from the use of essential medical equipment to manage their disability or medical condition. To get this payment, you must submit a claim. You can read more here.
Toni also advised that if you need a telephone repair (I imagine any household essential service would be the same) that you will get priority repairs if mentioning that a person with a disability, or chronic illness, lives at the residence.
If you have any other tips please share them in comments below or over on Facebook.