I'd like to focus on a few tips I've found with regard to travel...
1. Use the internet to research your travel destinations. You'll find tons of universally useful information and usually very good insight into the accessibility of the locations that you want to visit. In addition, you'll find contact names and numbers if you need further assistance.
Are there particular destinations that you've found that offer great accessibility and a great time? Log into our general message board and let everyone know!
2. When using any public transportation system, be safe and call ahead to inquire as to the accessibility of the vehicles. Often it is the case that only a select number of the vehicles are equipped with lifts and many times advance notice is needed in order for the transportation company to juggle their schedule to make sure that one of these adapted vehicles is available to serve the route that you've chosen.
3. Consider accessible van rental for your next vacation. This makes travel with a wheelchair a breeze. A couple of companies with which I am familiar are Wheelchair Getaways (www.wheelchair-getaways.com) and Rainbow Wheels (www.rainbowwheels.com). Are there other companies with which you've had van rental success? Please let everyone know by posting your comments on our general message board!
4. If you're like me and own a super-portable Pride Jazzy 1105 or 1115, these particular units work great in rental cars. Just recently I rented the smallest rental car in the Budget fleet-a Ford Escort-and my Jazzy 1105 fit beautifully in the trunk with room to spare. Also, if you are capable of using them, the larger rental car companies have hand controls available. However, you must make your reservation and specify your need for this accommodation at least one week in advance.
5. Traveling via an airplane? Make it a point to arrive at the airport at least an hour before your flight and always, always, always "gate-check" your chair. What this means is that you do not check your chair in at the ticket counter with the rest of your luggage. Rather, you stay in your chair to get to your actual gate and check the chair there with specific instructions that you want your chair returned to you just outside the plane door, in the jetway, in every city in which you land. Then double-check the receipt to make sure that your request has been met. That way you will never be at the mercy of a foreign and totally uncooperative airline chair or, worse yet, find yourself stranded with no chair at all!
Boy, do I have an interesting tidbit to share on this one! Write to me on the general message board if you want to swap stories!
6. With regard to hotel accommodations...always inquire as to the level of accessibility of the rooms and facilities. Some hotels think a wider door is the full definition of accessible while others go all-out with roll-in showers and transfer bars. The only way to know is to ask. Also, many hotels offer varying degrees of accessibility. For example...I prefer a bathtub but I still need the convenience of a handheld shower. More often than not it is a combination that is available for the asking.
7. Lastly, when using any of these services, don't be afraid to voice your opinion if something isn't up to par. The only way improvements get made is when the need for improvement and appropriate suggestions are made known. That's our responsibility. Just remember...be kind, courteous and direct. You are providing an invaluable service by evaluating these programs and, worded correctly, your opinion will most always be appreciated.
On the flip side of the coin, if you use one of these services and things go great...speak up on that too. Compliments are always welcome! And...you just never know the reward you'll receive. I once received two free roundtrip airline tickets in response to a thank you letter I wrote. Drop me a line on the general message board if you've had a similar experience. It's always good to know which companies take such a personal interest in their customers.
Travel is just one of the topics I'd like to explore here on the Pride Owners Club Site. These are some of the others that come to mind...
Have you ever gone to a restaurant and the host asks another member of your party what you would like for dinner? How did you handle it?
What clothing companies have you found that offer the most wheelchair user friendly designs? For example, straighter line skirts, shorter jackets, longer pants legs.
What "grabber" devices work best to get items down off of shelves?
What are the most common difficulties you run into on a daily basis and how do you confront them in a positive way?
Where have you taken your Pride Mobility Product? Any tips on how to best enjoy our products' performance capabilities? What features do you like best? What features would you like to see in the future?
Address one of these topics or pick one of your own. Post your stories, questions or suggestions on our general message board and let's brainstorm together!