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10 Tips for Solo Wheelchair Travelers

I’ve been on a wheelchair for a couple of months now, and will be using it for at least the next several months, depending how my Charcot foot does it’s healing (if there ever is such).

During this time I’ve been on three solo trips in Europe: Latvia, Croatia and Greece.

Short background

I COULD walk, but as all of the toes in the right foot are fractured in addition to damage on top of the foot, I’m operating on strict non-weight-bearing instructions. There’s bone material trying to push out of the side of the foot.

The Charcot Foot combined with neuropathy and osteopenia has made the bones to be like potato mash, so to prevent further fractures and bones getting broken, wheelchair it is for now.

Crutches only to the toilet, since I also have muscle weakness in all of my limbs, related to several other health problems and not yet solved in physiotherapy. Couldn’t walk the distances which I can complete with the wheelchair, that is.

The Tips

So what I’ve learned as a seasoned traveler but as a complete newbie wheelchair user / wheelchair traveler, is that…

  1. Remember to inform the airline early enough of your need of special assistance. Instructions for this can be found from their website, and if not, try googling “wheelchair [aiirline’s name]”.
  2. Memorize your wheelchair’s dimensions and weight. You’ll be asked for these every now and then.
  3. Remember to confirm with the hotel that there’s either a lift or that you get your room from the street floor. Also make sure that your wheelchair can fit into the room. Even if the hotel isn’t listed as an accessible one, there’s a chance that it still is.
  4. If you travel by train, check early enough fromt their website how do they want you to inform about your need of assistance. If you can’t find the info, try googling “wheelchair [train operator’s name]”.
  5. Get used to people coming to your aid even if you don’t ask for help.
  6. If you can’t get in to a shop without help, ask for the help from either the staff or people passing by. There’s no shame in shouting discretely so that you are heard if the staff is deep inside the shop 😉
  7. Same thing if you’re stuck in a curb or something, ask help from the people passing by if they haven’t already come to your aid.
  8. Especially smaller shops can also often do the shopping for you if you don’t fit in. Judy tell them what you need and give cash in their hand for it.
  9. Even though the idea of getting onboard a catamaran cruise with a wheelchair can sound strange, it can be done on some catamarans. Talking about the “day cruise at blue lagoon” kind of catamarans. The bigger ones, super catamarans like those which go from Split to Hvar, usually have a place for wheelchair travelers.
  10. Installing a bottle holder in the armrest is a good idea, as long as it’s not too wide (think doorways). Keeps your drink conviniently close when rolling through the world.

There you go, my two cents.