Over the years we’ve certainly learnt a thing or two about making our travels easier. The easier we can make things, the more relaxing a holiday becomes. We’ve invested in several pieces of equipment which have helped ensure we can do more when we get to our destinations and help us get there. Keep in mind we’ve built up this equipment over time and not bought it all at once. For those of you in Australia, you may find that some of the items can be requested through the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) including the roof pod.
For us, using BJ’s manual chair makes travel easier. Although it’s a fixed frame, we can remove components of the chair to make it smaller, allowing it to fit into a standard station wagon. It also means we can hire a standard vehicle when we travel. Usually with our luggage and the wheelchair we can fit into a four-wheel drive or people mover.
A ROOF POD
We’ve just upgraded to a larger roof pod which has made packing much smoother. We never travel light and the roof pod adds to the space available for road trips. It also fits BJ’s beach wheelchair which we rarely leave home without in summer. You can read our review and see how much we can fit into the roof pod in this blog. Having a roof pod has saved the need to purchase a larger car.
We’ve recently returned from a trip to the country where we anticipated we’d need BJ’s off-road tyres. They were invaluable in assisting us on gravel paths, grassy paddocks and on hard packed sand. We pick and choose when we travel with off-road tyres as they make the wheelchair heavier and wider. You can read more about our adventures with off-road tyres in this story.
BIKE TYRE PUMP & SPARE INNER TUBE
Travelling with off-road tyres does mean we need a few extras with us – just in case. We have experienced a flat tyre while travelling which wasted an afternoon chasing around after a new inner tube. We now travel with a spare inner tube.
When we take the off-road tyres on a flight we need to deflate the tyres slightly for air travel so we always pack a bike pump to be able to quickly inflate them again.
A beach wheelchair offers us so much freedom to explore and to stay wherever we like. Originally I thought to justify owning a beach wheelchair you’d need to live close to a beach to get the use out of it, but that’s definitely not the case. We love the versatility it offers us and it has saved us money when booking a holiday. We’ve been able to stay in smaller towns (usually cheaper than tourist hot spots) where they don’t have beach wheelchairs to loan.
You can read our review of the Sandcruiser and the children’s Sandpiper in this blog.
We haven’t invested in a FreeWheel attachement at this stage but did find it helpful in Fiji. It’s a more portable option than BJ’s beach wheelchair when combined with off-road tyres so I’m including it in this list. You can read our review of the FreeWheel in this blog.
It may seem obvious but BJ’s parking permit floats between my car and Hubby’s car. We always pop that in which ever car we are travelling in before packing anything else. It’s easy to forget and it does save money and makes it much easier to get BJ in and out of the car when we travel.
AUSTRALIAN COMPANION CARD
Make sure you travel with your Australian Companion Card if you have one. We save quite a bit of money when travelling with the majority of attractions offering free entry for a person accompanying, or assisting, BJ on a day out. If you don’t have one, you can read all about it here.
I’ve mentioned before that we keep a MLAK key attached to the back of BJ’s wheelchairs to ensure we always have easy access to key-locked bathroom facilities. We find the MLAK locked bathrooms are cleaner and usually more likely to be free when needed than other accessible bathrooms. If you don’t have a key, I recommend you get one. You can find out about how to get one on the Master Locksmiths Key website.
Nope, this isn’t for me to do quiet meditation in the mornings and evenings – as if that would ever happen. A cheap exercise/yoga mat from Kmart is what we use to protect the carpet and bumper of the car. We also use another mat to help when BJ transfers in and out of the car with bare feet in summer or when the road/path is gravel. We paid $8 each and they’ve been invaluable.
We’ve found a strap can come in handy in a variety of situations. Often we use them to secure BJ’s wheelchair (see photo below). We’ve also used them to secure BJ to various seats when doing a variety of experiences.
A small piece of non-slip mat has helped BJ to better enjoy experiences like quad biking so it’s now become something we always pack. We’ve found this available in the supermarket for about $2 for a whole roll.
HAVE YOUR WHEELCHAIR DETAILS HANDY
Some experiences are wheelchair accessible but it depends on the width, weight or height of the wheelchair. It saves time if you have those details saved on your phone or written down somewhere in your wallet so they are handy.
We travel with a toilet chair which suits BJ’s needs. It takes up most of one suitcase but it’s an essential piece of our luggage.
I’m a big fan of travelling with anything that makes life easier and at home when we assist BJ with his food we use a parfait spoon because the long handle means we don’t have to reach as far. So, when we travel we take a bunch of them with us.
We’ve always had hand santiser in BJ’s wheelchair pocket but we’ve added gloves, antibacterial wipes and a pen to ensure we always have them close at hand. You can read more tips regarding travel and Covid-safety here.
BITS TO THROW IN YOUR BAG OR CAR
If you are travelling with a power wheelchair, throw in a shower cap to cover your joystick if it rains. Shower caps are also handy for covering cameras when it rains. I have one in my backpack at all times. A large garbage bag can help keep a wheelchair seat drier in wet weather. Worse case scenario you can cut a couple of holes in it for your arms and use it as a poncho. You won’t win any fashion awards but it’s functional and cheap. It’s also light and doesn’t take up much room to have on hand just in case.
7 THINGS THAT MAKE TRAVELLING WITH A DISABILITY EASIER
A whole ago I wrote a blog about several things that make travelling easier and cheaper. A few are double ups of those mentioned above but you may find this helpful. You can read the list here.
Ultimately, we are fans of finding and using anything that helps us travel with ease. We are keen to hear your tips because we know this list isn’t exhaustive.