Today, I am excited to introduce Julie Jones from "Have Wheelchair Will Travel". The website is full of practical information for wheelchair users and their families in regard to travelling locally and overseas.
2. What are your top tips for travelling with someone who uses a wheelchair?
We started travelling locally to work out what we needed in accommodation, equipment and what was a priority for our family when holidaying. Putting time into researching a destination, accommodation and the surrounding area will ensure that a holiday will go smoothly. My best tip is to research online and then phone the hotel or apartment direct. Never assume that reservation’s staff will know what you need in a hotel room. Be specific with your questions regarding access and bathroom features in particular. Book early as accessible rooms go quickly and accessible cabins on cruises are booked out more than six months in advance.
Lastly, if you have a child with a disability and you know that a wheelchair is going to be a part of your life in the future, I suggest going to the more difficult locations while they are young. We travelled to New Zealand and Kakadu when BJ was younger and still able to fit in a back carrier. It meant we could do hikes that we could never do with a wheelchair now.
3. What is the most memorable travel experience you have had as a family?
We have many wonderful holiday memories which I feel bond us as a family. Disneyland holds an incredibly special place in our hearts as it was where we had our first family overseas holiday. There is a magic to Disneyland that I haven’t experienced elsewhere. It is accessible and easy which helps makes it a good destination for us. The quote on a statue of Walt Disney sums it up, “I think most of all what I want Disneyland to be is a happy place ........where parents and children can have fun, together.” Walt Disney succeeded in making a place where adults embrace their inner child and children see another side of their parents. This is our most memorable holiday to date.
4. What have you found the most challenging about travelling as a family?
Flying long-haul is definitely our biggest challenge. Most people find airline seating uncomfortable and it is even more so for BJ and for us caring for him. My hope is that in the future airlines recognise this and make allowances for people with a disability and their families with bulk-head seating available for those with the need.
Our other challenge is fitting in as much as possible at our holiday destination. I always like to make the most of a destination and see it all. It is trickier when a wheelchair is involved. At each stop we transfer BJ in and out of the car and the wheelchair in and out of the van. We don’t like BJ to miss out on anything so my husband will bump the wheelchair upstairs if they prove an obstacle, push up a steep hill to get to a look-out and transfer BJ in and out of the car as often as necessary. It is tiring but we think it is worth it. It is all manageable but it does require planning and research so it is less carefree than our travel from years gone by.
5. What can we find on the “Have Wheelchair Will Travel” website?
The website is a mixture of travel tips and stories about how we have managed a particular stage of BJ’s development. I like to share as much as I can to help others with a child with a disability so it is not all about travel as I understand not everyone is in a position to do so. I have done stories on gifts for children with special needs, birthday party ideas and my experience finding a pre-school for BJ.
The main focus is providing ideas and practical tips on travelling like how to book an accessible hotel and specific information on destinations. I include stories on our experience flying with BJ, what to expect at security check points and share lots of photos. There is only one rule, it must be positive. I will point out tricky situations but I want to provide positive stories that give families the confidence to give it a go.
6. Are you planning your next holiday? If so, where are you going?
There are no definite plans at the moment but Hawaii is on the top of my list. I’m always mentally planning a holiday but work and school commitments don’t allow me to put them all into action.
7. Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
I think having a family member with a disability is a constant learning curve.
We have found that making time to share fun times as a family is vital to helping with the tough times.
Ensure you surround yourself with supportive friends, family and therapists.
Consistency is the key to successful outcomes when it comes to therapy. BUT make sure therapy is done in a fun and purposeful way and your child will be more willing to participate.
Trust your own ability to know what is right for your child and seek it out.
Take time out for yourself as a parent. You need to look after yourself.
Thank you Julie for sharing your insights and experiences. You are an inspiration to those who have contemplated travel with a family member with a disability, providing practical and honest reviews of your travelling experiences. I have enjoyed reading about accessible playgrounds around Sydney too!
You can find links to Julie's website and FB page here. Let her know that Your Kids OT sent you.
Have Wheelchair Will Travel webpage
Have Wheelchair Will Travel FB page
If you know a great website that you would like featured here at Your Kids OT Website Spotlight, let me know via firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is your most memorable travel experience?
Hi, I'm Cindy and I am an Occupational Therapist. I enjoy working creatively with children to see them reach their potential. Read more about me here.
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Disclaimer: The information on this site is general in nature and should be used for educational and entertainment purposes. The activities are safe for most children, however, you should consult an Occupational Therapist or health professional to address specific movement, sensory or other medical conditions. This blog does not replace formal therapeutic professional advice given by a health professional or medical practitioner. Reviews and endorsements of products will only be made based on my expertise and personal opinion; and deemed worthy of such endorsement. The opinions shared in sponsored content will always be my own and not that of the advertising company or brand. Content, advertising space or posts will be clearly identified if paid, affiliated or sponsored. Affiliate links may be found throughout this website in advertising. This means that if you follow through with a purchase from these links, Your Kids OT will receive a percentage of the sale. Your Kids OT undertakes to meet the requirements of the "Social Media Policy" as published by Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). Further information about this policy can be found here.
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