One of the great joys of traveling is getting to see places you haven't seen before and for most folks, that is a great pleasure to be taken whenever you have the time and ability. But when you are confined to a wheelchair, things take on a different aspect altogether.
More planning needs to be done, especially if you're planning to go anywhere long distance by plane, hitting the road like on an accessible RV vacation or even if you are traveling on a train or bus, you need to get things prepared beforehand to save on all the hassles when the time comes to go. One essential item that I can't do without when I travel is my very portable, lightweight folding wheelchair.
It has a load of advantages over my static framed chair for traveling, although there are some disadvantages and the reason why I simply don't just use it all the time.
The advantages are the things that make traveling when you are a person with disabilities more enjoyable, at least that is as far as it is possible when, you know, its not as straight forward as it is for able bodied folks. But the main thing is that be being a folding frame, the chair folds up into an almost flat package that is easy to store on a plane or other means of transport where space is at a premium.
Being lightweight, it lends itself to being picked up and carried by airline staff without them breaking their backs over a heavy framed chair. It gets you some nice smiles and you know they appreciate your thoughtfulness at coming in one!
On top of that, they are lighter than usual so are easy to push around unaided in necessary, or they make for a happier helper who has to push you! They even make it easier to use wheelchair stair lifts and ramps as the weight is less and that makes them so much more easily maneuverable.
So these lightweight wheelchairs sound absolutely perfect for all kinds of things and so far you'd wonder why anyone would bother with heavy, rigid framed wheelchairs any more?
Well, there is a downside and that's the lack of good padding. To cut down on weight and to make the chair fold away really as small as it can be, the padding is pretty spartan, which is okay if you only need to use the chair to get from the taxi to the airport, from the check-in to the departure lounge and then from there onto the plane etc. But for anything longer, you backside will start to go numb, not to mention your back and your arms from resting on very thinly padded armrests.
So there is always a sacrifice to be made someplace and I guess comfort has to go for the sake of portability. But I can cope with that for all the benefits of these lightweight wheelchairs just as long as I can sit in a comfy chair in between moving around and I get to have a nice hot bath at the end of the traveling day!