Silhouette of person in wheelchair with arms out in peace signs with sunset in the background

9 Tips for Vacationing With a Wheelchair

Carlee Weber Oct 05, 2022

When you have a disability, you know the struggles of planning a vacation to the beach all too well. I want to share some tips I have learned over the years for a smooth vacation.


1. Make sure there are accessible beach access points

Many beach access points have steps. That’s a huge problem when you’re on wheels. My family always tries to get a rental within walking distance of an accessible beach entrance.

The easier it is to access the beach; the more time can be spent relaxing in the sand.


2. Rent or buy a beach wheelchair

Beach wheelchairs have large, lightweight tires perfect for trekking across the sand. If you’re going to a quieter beach, check the local fire department for wheelchair rentals. Sometimes the rental is free if you leave your ID card at the fire station.

If you’d rather stay in your own wheelchair, some beaches have mats in the sand for wheelchair users. These mats don’t typically go all the way to the water, but they’ll get you on the beach.


3. Get an “everything bag

I keep a bag on the back of my wheelchair that has just about everything I could possibly need. Reusable straws, plastic wear, chargers, sunscreen, sunglasses, books, poncho, first aid kit—you name it, and it’s in my everything bag. 

With an everything bag, you’ll be prepared for the expected and the unexpected. This bag has saved the day for me so many times.

I use the Hatchet Backpack, but if you’re looking for something smaller, I’d suggest the Kitsack.


4. Get a room with a balcony

Sometimes, I don’t want to go through the hassle of getting packed up and heading to the beach because let’s face it—getting ready can be exhausting. Plus, if you have an electric wheelchair like I do, you can watch the beach even when it’s raining from a balcony.

On my lazy mornings, I’d sit on the balcony and listen to music while looking for dolphins. Which brings me into my next tip…


5. Make a summer playlist

Listening to music helps me to fully relax. Create a playlist of your favorite songs to make your beach time even more enjoyable. That way, even if it’s crowded, you can still be in your own world.

I feel like other people stare at me more when I’m at the beach. I can easily block them out with some headphones and a good playlist.


6. Look for national parks nearby

If you have a permanent disability and are a permanent resident of America, you and three adults can get into nearly any national park for free. This is thanks to the National Parks Access Pass. Take advantage of the beautiful national parks of America.


7. Stay hydrated

I mean it when I say that this tip applies to everyone. Drink more water!

It’s dangerously easy to become dehydrated when you’re at the beach. As a chronically ill person, dehydration can become a big problem. So, make sure you pack plenty of water in your everything bag.


8. Make a checklist

Some medical supplies aren’t available just anywhere. For instance, if I forget my wheelchair charger, I can’t run to the nearest drugstore to buy one.

I learned this one the hard way, but you won’t have to with the help of a checklist of what to pack.


9. Wrap your wheelchair for flights

If you’re a wheelchair user, then you’ve most likely heard your fair share of horror stories of airlines breaking wheelchairs. 

I have learned to put movable pieces, such as the controller and the headrest, on the seat of my chair. Then, plastic wrap everything together and put the footrest up.

It can also be helpful to add sticky notes labeled “lift here” on the sturdiest parts of your chair.


Hopefully you can use some of these tips when you plan your next vacation. Now is the best time to plan your vacation for next summer.

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