Accessible Summer Vacations: My How-To Guide for Planning and Packing
Updated: Feb 18, 2019
A How-To guide on how to plan and pack for vacations for the differently-abled individual.
It is officially summer time! One of my favorite times of the year. Summertime for me means, it’s time to put up the sweaters and break out the comfy (and fashionable maxi dress) it’s time to ditch the house parties for day parties and weekends at the beach, outdoor concerts, happy hours on open air patios serving up crisp and refreshing cocktails and of course VACATIONS!
As working adults, we don’t get to fully indulge in our glorious adolescent past times of “summer vacation” but if you’re anything like me, I work to vacation so I’m always looking to travel and explore; whether it’s a long trip or a quick “relax and recharge” trip. In my case, I work two very demanding jobs that require a lot of time, mental and physical energy… so anytime I can break away and get out of the city… I take it. Currently, between August 2018 and March 2019, I have three trips on my calendar:
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Spain (Barcelona and Madrid)
Each trip will serve a particular purpose and I’m excited for all three! First trip is in Viva Las Vegas! Now let me first start off with saying, for me, going to Vegas is never something I’m thrilled about. I’ve been a few times, and each time was not memorable. Vegas is a place I try to stay away from because in my opinion, it’s boring. I’m sure you’re wondering, “well, why would you book a vacation to go if you don’t like going?” This is a very valid question, so let me explain in more detail the reasons why I’m not a fan of Las Vegas:
I don’t like to gamble. I am not into “losing” money, I like my money in my bank account or in my closet/home (i.e. my clothes or home decor purchases lol) so the idea of feeding a machine or working a table doesn’t appeal to me. I totally understand that playing increases my chance of winning but I’d rather not risk the chance of losing so I leave the gambling to my mom. She actually wins and will share her winnings with me… yes I’m an only child so I get all the perks!I don’t go to Vegas to shop. Anyone who knows me, knows I love to shop whether it’s clothes, shoes, bags (I love a good bag) or it’s home decor items… I love to shop; however in the last 2–3 years I’ve been more interested in saving money. Within the next year or two I want to purchase income property (with my mom… we do a lot together as you see) so I’m less interested in going to Vegas (or anywhere for that matter) just to shop.
I know in Vegas, there are plenty of premium outlets to choose from … I’ve been to them all lol, but the older I am, the wiser I become and I realize, it’s not in the type of purse you carry or outfit you’re wearing, life is bigger than labels. Life is about building a legacy, building equity, making memories with the people you love; so I prefer to save and invest my money in the things that truly matter… the labels can wait. As we know Vegas is a city that does not sleep, there’s something going on 24–7. I’m 32… I’m no longer interested in the marathon party. That’s not where I’m at in my life. I already work all day and night, I don’t want to be up in anybody’s club drinking/taking shots back, yelling at my friends because the music is blaring. No ma’am! I’ll pass on all that.
I’m more interested in a nice Malbec or Pinot Noir, chilling at a lounge or wine bar, listening to some good 90s R&B or Smooth Jazz. Call me old if you like but in the words of Bruno Mars…that’s what I like. So why go to Vegas?!? Well a friend of mine told me recently that there’s a difference between a “vacation” and a “trip”
A vacation is when you go somewhere to just relax, you don’t have an itinerary full of activities/events to accomplish… you go just to relax, read a book, sleep and recharge.
A trip is planned out, a place that you go with the sole purpose to actively do certain activities/ events… to really get a sense of the place that you’re in.
In my opinion, Vegas is going to be a vacation because I don’t want to do anything. I don’t want to go shopping, I don’t want to gamble, I don’t want to follow a full itinerary…I just want to check into a very nice hotel with an upgraded room, chill by the pool, have a couple cocktails, go to a nice dinner and overall just relax. If I went anywhere else beside Vegas, best believe… I would plan a full itinerary, but because I’m not “into” Vegas, it’ll force me to chill and just have a vacation. Also, Vegas is easy to get to from Los Angeles and depending on when you chose to go, you can find some great hotel rates and the Virgo in me LOVES a great deal… because why would you pay full price if you can get a deal?!! Vegas is also VERY accessible for the disABLED community. All the major hotels and tourist attractions are accessible and the customer service is excellent.
My trip is about a month away and since it’s doesn’t require much planning I only have to plan a few things to make this trip happen in comparison to when I’m flying domestic or internationally (those trips require more time and effort)
Most people elect to fly to Vegas (especially if you’re coming from LA) it’s a quick one hour flight and many of the flights are under $200 r/t if you catch a sale via one on the major airlines, such as Southwest or JetBlue. However, because I am in a wheelchair… flying is a whole other animal of planning and frankly just for a one-hour flight, it’s not worth the effort, especially with a specialized permobli power wheelchair like mine. I’d rather save my flights for long distance travel. So for this vacation, I opted to go via bus.
Megabus is a chauffeured ground transportation that offers service to several popular destinations. Their Las Vegas itinerary is 95% non-stop option (the bus stops in Bakersfield) for travelers going from LA to Las Vegas. The trip takes 5 hours (I know so long!) but the bus is nice (better than Greyhound in my opinion) and it comes equipped with WIFI, power outlets. This upcoming trip will be my first time going on the bus solo (I usually ride with my caregiver / nurse.) I’m going to Vegas with a friend and she will be flying up and meeting me. The roundtrip Megabus ticket cost $40.00 with a pickup at LA Union Station and a drop-off at the RTC South Strip Transfer Terminal. From there I will schedule the local Access Paratransit to drop me off at my hotel.
There is a plethora of hotel options in Las Vegas to choose from; whether you’re looking for opulence or you’re looking to cut corners and stay within a budget; there’s a hotel for you. Every time I’ve stayed in Las Vegas I’ve never splurged on the room because 9 times out of 10 the group is not planning to stay in the hotel so we put our money towards “the strip” But this time, I’m going to splurge just a tiny bit. I have a complete love affair with the city of Paris and every time I go to Las Vegas I’ve always wanted to stay in the Paris hotel but I never do… this time I decided to go ahead and spend a little extra money and get an upgraded suite for my upcoming stay.
I normally book my hotels through my favorite discount booking site booking.com, however when I started my new job at LAHSA, we receive access to a discount website called TicketsAtWork and I was able to get an upgraded suite at the Paris Hotel for under $250.00 for the weekend. Needless to say, we didn’t stall at booking this deal. I requested to have an ADA accessible room so I’m looking forward to the roll-in shower, larger floorplan (the ADA accessible rooms are usually larger, have lowered countertops, lower door locks and light switches.) Also, one of my #modifiedhacks if you’re staying in an ADA accessible room or you have indicated you have a disability or special need, 99.9% of the time the hotel front desk will allow you to check in early and check out late at no additional cost; This can come in handy on busy weekends when they’re usually is an additional cost, they will offer to waive this if you indicated that you need a little more extra time to pack up based on your “special need.”
Packing It Up
Now it’s no surprise… when it’s time to pack up for a vacation, a trip, even an overnight stay, women in general overpack, complain we never have enough, hate everything we brought or wearing the same thing over and over and never even utilizing all the options that we originally bring for “versatility.” Well I’m no different lol… I always overpack and never seem to wear all the options that I packed.
Over the years, I’ve tried to condense as much as I can; at the end of the day we must remember, we are on vacation and no one wants to pack up two weeks worth of clothing when you’re only going to be gone for two and a half days …that makes no sense at all and it creates more stress. As a differently-abledwoman I have to pack more than most average able-bodied women; especially if I’m going on an extended trip or something international.
For this Las Vegas vacation I’m able to keep it short and sweet. My goal is to get everything I need in ONE bag, I’m sure you’re thinking “that should be very easy… it’s just Vegas” but this is not my first rodeo and I’ve had enough incidents happen to know It’s better to be overly prepared then to not be prepared at all.
Living in an apartment, my storage is VERY limited, so I don’t have room to store a true luggage set; and with my impending travels I have been researching a bag that can handle everything I may need and still be storable when not in use. I’m very interested in the brand Osprey! Their bags are created durability for both short and long distance travel and ideal for packing a lot. I plan to purchase one of their mid-size bags for this Vegas trip and my Cabo San Lucas trip. Once I receive it I’ll do a post on its overall usage.
From my previous travels over the years I’ve created a travel pack list, one for domestic and one for international. Hopefully you may find it helpful for your future vacations, especially if you are differently-abled or traveling with someone who is.
I like to pack all my medical supplies first; that is the most important component to any trip I embark on because 9 times out of 10 I’m not going to be able to find what I need on the fly, especially if I’m out of town or international… so whatever I can bring along with me… I take it:
Catheters: I have a suprapubic catheter, and as I mentioned in a previous blog post she is hella temperamental. My catheter loves to “act up” at the most impromptu times, and don’t have time to try and find a doctor or medical supply company, so instead of me being in a predicament that I can’t control I like to pack a couple extra catheters with me so if I need to change it, I have them available. It takes about 5 minutes to change and/or flush the catheter and it will save me hours of stress, pain and inconvenience.
So I highly suggest contacting your doctor and requesting to have your medical supplier provide you some additional catheters just to have in case of an emergency at home or when you travel. I also bring extra syringes and sterile water for cord flushes. I prefer flushing twice a day when traveling but each person is different so make sure you make enough sterile water. If you’re flying, you will have to carry this in your carry-on.
Medicine: Even on vacation we have to be adults and take our medicine whether we like it or not. I always try to have additional medicine on hand (i.e. if you’re staying for 3 days take medicine for 5 days or even 6 days) you never know what could happen…and you don’t want to take time out of your vacation to search for medication or get a prescription refill. So just pack them and make sure you pack extra.Wheelchair Charger: This is a no-brainer! Unfortunately, it can EASILY be forgotten (trust me, I’ve done it). My suggestion, PACK it first. Or if your budget allows, by an extra charger for travel/ emergencies. There is NOTHING worse than stopping your vacation to find a charger (especially when you’re international) most wheelchairs/scooters use a universal charger but just make sure you know what kind your chair requires.
Cleaning Supplies: This section will include items that will be used primarily by your nurse/care attendant and the majority of all items come in travel sizes. Box of GlovesBaby WipesLysol/ DisinfectantHand sanitizer. When packing clothes and shoes, pack smart! Unless you plan on changing multiple times a day, which can require multiple transfers, keep it simple. I tend to work with a solid colored bottom and build up or down with my top(s). Tops are easier to layer/remove without multiple full changes. Your nurse/ care attendant will appreciate the thought into this.
I hope this post helped to enlighten and guide you or a loved one when packing for a short trip. I will keep you updated on my Vegas trip and my upcoming international vacations and all the preparations that go into planning them. Stay tuned for more #CanCanTravels!
Until next time, this is my world... on wheelz!