Living with a disability or mobility problem can be very debilitating and whether it’s an ongoing chronic illness or the inevitable process of ageing, getting some time away is essential for independence and recuperation. If you or a loved one suffer from problems with mobility and want to escape day-to-day life with a holiday or visit family and friends, knowing which mobility aids to travel with is vital.
We understand that travelling can feel very daunting, but thanks to the broad range of mobility aids on the market that are portable, lightweight, compact and comfortable, you can now travel with ease. As mobility aid specialists, we’ve put together a list of the best products available and what properties to invest in to make for a hassle-free holiday.
General mobility and personal care aids
These are the items that make your life that little bit easier. They may be there for comfort or for a more practical purpose, but either way, leaving room in your suitcase for smaller bits and bobs will make you feel at home while you’re away. Firstly, think about what you’ll need for the journey:
● Comfortable clothing: if your journey is going to be particularly long, bringing clothes that are comfortable is essential. Opt for loose-fitting clothing that is weather appropriate – for extra comfort, pack your favourite pair of slippers.
● Pressure relief cushion or fleece: public transport and car seats aren’t famed for their comfort; spending the journey in a hard seat is not ideal and could result in ongoing pain throughout your trip. Pack a pressure relief cushion or fleece so you don’t have to worry about feeling uncomfortable. You can now get cushions specifically designed for travel, which are compact and fit inside a bag.
● Hand exercisers: sitting through a long journey is not good for circulation so it’s important to try and keep moving. Why not pack some hand exercisers – usually in the form of gel balls – as giving these a squeeze will keep the blood flowing and release any anxiety you experience along the way.
And once you arrive at your destination there are a few other things that can make looking after yourself easier:
● Pill dispenser: remembering to take medication when you’re out of routine can be tricky. You may already use one at home, but you can get smaller, handheld pill dispensers which will fit in your bag so your medication is on-hand at all times.
● Bathroom aids: if you’re in a bathroom that isn’t your own without built-in mobility aids, you may feel a little uneasy. Investing in an inflatable bath cushion, a foldaway shower chair and detachable grab rails is a great way to ensure you can wash independently and safely, so you feel fresh for the day’s activities.
● Backrests and pressure relief fleece: if you’re worried that the bed where you’ll be staying won’t be as comfortable as home, bring a folding backrest so you can sit up in bed comfortably, and a larger pressure relief fleece to relieve any pain or discomfort whilst you doze off to sleep.
Depending on your own personal needs, all of these items are ideal for travelling and will take away any fear you may have about feeling uncomfortable both on the journey and once you arrive.
Crutches and walking sticks
If you walk with crutches or a walking stick, finding one that is portable is essential for when you’re on the move. You want to be able to tuck it away compactly for when you’re not using it, so having one that is lightweight and foldable is really handy – you don’t want to be lugging it around or having to leave it somewhere and risk losing it.
Traditionally walking sticks were made from wood, however, this is not very practical, particularly for travelling. Advancements in manufacturing have now brought the walking stick up to date – they generally have an aluminium cane, one of the lightest metals available, and are adjustable. An even more helpful aspect of the modern walking stick is that most brands make foldable canes, designed to fit in your bag. You can choose from traditional or contemporary styles in a range of colours, without scrimping on practicality.
Modern walking sticks are also designed much more ergonomically than before, with curved rubber handles to take the pressure off your joints. As well as this, with the travelling customer in mind, designers created the tripod cane and fold seat cane styles. The tripod cane has three feet at its base for more stability so if you’re on a long journey and have to wait around at bus or train stations, you can lean onto your stick safely. To completely take the weight off, a folding seat cane has a foldaway seat attached for you to rest on. Detachable or magnetic stick holders are also available – these are very handy if you’re travelling on public transport and can’t bend over to pick up a fallen stick.
Manual and electric wheelchairs
Both manual and electric wheelchairs have now been designed with travel in mind. Although they are bulkier than walking sticks, folding chairs are available and can be put in the boot of a car, in the hold of a plane or in the luggage compartment of a train or coach. Again, due to its lightness, aluminium is commonly used in the manufacture of wheelchairs and comes in a range of colours and styles.
Depending on the itinerary of your trip, you may also want a more versatile model. For example, if you’re going to be exploring different terrains to your usual journey to work or the shops, an outdoor or off-road wheelchair is a great option. While you’re away you don’t want to miss out on activities because your wheelchair can’t handle going on the beach or other uneven ground.
Overall, when purchasing a wheelchair for travel you need to consider your needs against your budget. If you’re planning on travelling regularly, investing in a better quality and more comfortable chair is worth it. However, if you don’t often go away and your upcoming trip is a one-off, go for a more cost-effective option – you may sacrifice comfort slightly, but you can always add a cushion or fleece to amend this. The lightest folding manual wheelchairs tend to be between 8kg and 15kg, while portable electric chairs will be over 20kg. If you’re not travelling alone or can operate your own chair, it’s cheaper and more efficient to opt for manual, as they fold up smaller and you won’t have to bring a charger with you either.
Probably one of the most revolutionary mobility aids of our time is the mobility scooter. As you can drive them yourself, they give the greatest amount of independence and for many people, getting around without one seems impossible. Much like the electric wheelchair, there are now foldable models of mobility scooters to fit in the boot of a car, etc. They are similarly heavy, but if a manual wheelchair isn’t an option for you, choosing a foldable and lightweight mobility scooter will give you the freedom to go where ever you want, whenever you want whilst you’re away.
Remember, if you’re using an electric scooter, you’ll need to bring a charger to charge your power pack. Getting stuck with a chargeless scooter would entirely take away the reason for travelling with one in the first place; freedom. You can get in-car chargers, ideal for road trips or driving holidays, so while your folding scooter is neatly tucked away in the boot, you can charge the power pack on the move.
If you’re not driving and you’ll be using other transport services, it’s important to find out if larger mobility aids can be taken on board, as some planes, trains, coaches and taxis won’t allow certain weights or sizes. Most importantly, do your research in advance and communicate with the transport service you’ll be using at least 48 hours before you travel.
Contact your mobility equipment supplier and visit their mobility shop
After considering your budget and what types of mobility aid you’ll need for your next trip away, refer to your local mobility equipment supplier. They can expertly advise you on the best models for travelling and will allow you to test everything out in their shop and make sure the products suit your needs.
At A Mobility Shop, we have a vast range of mobility aid products and services in order to make your life with a disability or mobility issue easier. Our lightweight wheelchairs and mobility scooters, as well as our broad catalogue of general mobility and personal care aids, are ideal for travelling with. We also offer stair lift rental as a specialist service; if you’re visiting friends or family, you can get a stair lift installed at their house so you aren’t restricted to the downstairs.
If you’re looking to stock up on mobility aids for travel or looking for a lightweight solution to getting around while you’re on holiday, you can trust A Mobility Shop to cater to all of your mobility needs. Simply make an enquiry on our website or give us a call today.