Published: 28 May 2022
I'm not quite sure where the beginning of 2022 disappeared to, but suddenly, it's the last weekend in May. Summer is here and many people are planning holidays, day trips and other summery activities. So for a little while, I'm going to focus my blog posts on accessibility issues related to summer holidays and days out.
Before I start dishing out my advice, here's my context...
I'm a semi-ambulant wheelchair user with an assistance dog (Canine Partner). When I walk, which isn't very much, I use either a stick or crutches, depending on where I am. When I use a wheelchair... well, I have two. My normal wheelchair is a manual active chair with Loopwheels and no handles. My off-road chair is a Mountain Trike. I'll come back to those in another post, as equipment is key to a good day out.
With no further ado, here are my general tips for planning a good day out:
- Do your homework! Research the place you plan to visit and find out everything you need to know. Every disastrous day out will tell you the things you need to research better next time. Use the Internet, social media and even phone and have a chat with someone at the venue.
- Euan's Guide - This is kind of like Trip Advisor for disabled people. The reviews are all written by disabled people and focus mainly on accessibility issues. Obviously, you have to remember that everyone's needs are different. Also some people are naturally positive and others find fault with everything. However, I find this the best website for researching days out. I also try to review each place we visit, so that others know what issues and features we found.
- Manage your expectations - this will be contentious. I know that equal access should be a given by 2022. However, the reality is, we're not there yet. In my personal opinion, it's not realistic to visit an ancient ruin and expect full access and perfection. For me, if they've made a jolly good attempt at providing access, I'm happy to forgive the bits that are still not accessible.
There are two aspects to this. The first is choosing how you're going to get to and from your destination. The second is how you're going to get around the venue.
I don't do public transport! I know many have to but I've never got brave enough to even try. I read so many tweets about people being abandoned, booked assistance failing and the general public being difficult, that it has put me right off. I have a car and a motorhome. Obviously the motorhome is pretty good for holidays but it is also often our choice of vehicle for days out. It gives me a toilet whenever I need it, the ability to make food and drinks that aren't going to give me an allergic reaction, and somewhere to rest if I need to.
Another advantage of the motorhome is that we can take both wheelchairs, plus crutches, sticks and the kitchen sink (literally). I usually check out paving surfaces and the general landscape of a venue and then choose which chair I'll need, but sometimes it is useful to have both and to swap part way through they day. For example, there might be an indoor and outdoor section. Indoors, my chair is probably better but outdoors, I might want my trike. I like having the flexibility to choose.
I'll leave you with some photos of our various travelling methods: