Accessible Travel | Friendly Wheels | Issue 7

Posted on Friday May 6, 2011

Getting Out and Enjoying Life

Friendly Wheels, Issue 7
August 2008

By: Shelley Peterman Schwarz

I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1979 and it affected my mobility from the beginning. I was stubborn and resisted using a wheelchair for several years. Finally, in 1983 I bought my first Amigo. My original Amigo, lovingly referred to as “Old Paint,” still works! I love my Amigos because they’re always ready to make my life better and they’re dependable for years.

I’ve learned that I can avoid unexpected accessibility problems when I go out to a new location by calling ahead to find out pertinent information. Is the building accessible? Is the specific area, office, meeting room or department I’m going to accessible? Where are the restrooms located and are they handicapped accessible?

One time my husband and I were invited to a wedding reception at a restaurant we knew from experience was accessible. However, when we arrived, we found the reception was being held in the lower level and the restaurant didn’t have an elevator! Because I really wanted to attend the reception, my husband and my father carried me down the stairs. Two of the restaurant employees easily took the Amigo apart, carried it downstairs, and reassembled it. My best advice is to always call ahead so there is no surprise.

Getting out and enjoying life is important to everyone. Here are some tips to make your outings easier, safer and more enjoyable:

  • A month or two before your trip, contact the Chamber of Commerce in the city you plan to visit or the hotel concierge and ask that they put together a packet of tourist information for the dates of your visit. With that information, you can make restaurant reservations, arrange for play tickets or schedule the sights that you want to see.
  • When you go to theme parks, museums, aquariums, zoos and other large public places, arrive when the attraction opens up. Then go to the back section of the attraction and start working your way toward the front. If you need a break during the day, leave and go back to your hotel/motel to rest. When you’ve refreshed, return to the attraction and start at the beginning. The crowds will have thinned out considerably by this time. Then stay as late as you want, spending time wherever your special interests take you.
  • Just in case. . . always pack an extension cord. If the electrical outlets in your hotel room are too difficult to reach, you have a ready solution for recharging your battery. Ask a bellhop or other hotel employee to assist you should you need help plugging the extension cord in.
  • If noise bothers you, keep a pair of earplugs in your pocket in case you find yourself in noisy locations such as fireworks, band concerts, car races, crowds, etc. You can purchase disposable earplugs at your local pharmacy.
  • If you’re bothered by the dry air in hotel and motel rooms, here’s a solution. Leave the tub filled with hot water. Keep the bathroom door open and let water add moisture to the air.

Happy travels to each of you. . . determined and ever able!

Shelley Peterman Schwarz is a freelance award winning writer and author of six “Tips for Making Life Easier” books and professional speaker. Visit her highly informative Web site at or you can e-mail her at

She recently came out with new book, “Arthritis – 300 Tips for Making Life Easier,” and she wrote a chapter in “Mental Sharpening Stones, Manage the Cognitive Challenges of Multiple Sclerosis.” Both of these books are available at

Listen to Shelley’s new ONE HOUR, Making Life Easier Radio Program. Guests share their wisdom, strategies for living and lessons they’ve learned on their journey, in hopes that their words will help you.

Read more Friendly Wheels article here.

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