Cure Advocate Julienne Dallara is a long-time wheelchair-user and seasoned traveler. She began using a wheelchair due to Transverse Myelitis. Below, we bring you some of Julienne’s best accessibility hacks for hotels!
Don’t you just hate it when you go to make a hotel reservation and there are no accessible rooms left? This can be common when attending disability industry events, like Abilities Expos, but other times, the few rooms are simply already occupied by guests that don’t actually need the accessible features.
It’s even more frustrating when you are able to secure an accessible room, but you arrive to find it’s not truly accessible! Whether you’re traveling alone or with your family or friends, accessibility issues can really put a damper on a trip.
Have no fear, Cure Nation! We put together some tips and accessibility hacks to help you ensure your stay is as comfortable as possible.
It’s a good idea when traveling with a disability to bring along equipment or tools that you may need.
For example, many people travel with their personal shower chair to avoid any potential issues with bathing. For people with limited mobility, it can also be a good idea to bring a small “reacher” and extension cords for phone chargers, computers and/or powered wheelchairs.
If you use a blow dryer, the one offered by the hotel can sometimes be attached to the wall up high, so you may want to bring yours along to be safe.It’s also good to ask plenty of questions when making your reservation. Ask about the details of the shower and bathroom, bed heights and request anything you may need, like extra towels.
Find out if the parking is valet or if you’re going to have to park yourself, and if so, how far you may have to roll. This all can make a big difference for how you choose to handle your trip.
TIP: If there aren’t any accessible rooms available at your hotel of choice, try asking for a free upgrade to a more-spacious room. Sometimes they will accommodate you!
Ask for Help
When you encounter an issue at any point during your hotel stay, pick up the phone and push “0” or stop by the front desk. Every employee is there to serve all of the hotel’s customers, including you. If you need help with luggage and there is no bell hop, ask someone at the check-in counter for assistance.
When you arrive into your room, the first thing to check is that you can fit through the bathroom door. If you can’t, call the front desk and ask them to have maintenance to come take the door off. Nine times out of ten, this will remedy the issue.
When someone helps you, and does a good job at it, be sure to introduce yourself and get their name. This way, they remember you and can be ready to offer assistance to you throughout your stay.
More on this below from our friend and Abilities Expo’s “Hostess with the Mostest,” Julienne Dallara.
Julienne shares, “I travel a lot, compared to most other people in wheelchairs, and I travel alone. Sure, I call ahead, book an ADA “Wheelchair Accessible” hotel room, but what I find once I get there varies wildly.”
Julienne’s HOTEL ROOM Accessibility Hacks
Here are a few hints designed to get you what you want — a hotel room where you can function on your own.
- That person who has helped you and your luggage to your room is valuable!
Don’t let him go too soon. This is “Your Person”. Run the following checklist while he is still there since he will be your first point of contact for assistance.
- Check the bed.
Is it too high for you to safely transfer into? Beds can be taken off their wheels, feet, frame, whatever support that is lifting them up to their unreasonable heights. Tell YP, and he will call Engineering. Yes, in hotel-speak ‘Engineering’ means the guys who do all the heavy lifting.
- Do you have wheelchair path to everywhere in the room?
Furniture can be moved out or moved around. I always ask them to remove the desk chair so I don’t have a fight getting to the desk. Make sure you have a clear path to the phone.
- Always travel with a power strip.
And, before Your Person leaves the room, get him to clear a place to the most convenient plug and plug it in for you.
I always request both. In most hotels a refrigerator is standard but won’t provide a microwave. Whatever you have, test to make sure it is working before Your Person leaves.
The housekeeping procedure always seems to be that the towels and toiletries are placed high out of reach and the shower head is in the highest position. Ask Your Person to move them, then leave a note for Housekeeping (with a $5 bill) asking that they leave everything within reach for the length of your stay.
An ADA room is supposed to have long poles that we can reach to open and close the curtains. Some even have remotes! If yours have neither, ask Your Person to open or close them to your preference and add it to your note to Housekeeping.
Sure, it is supposed to be low enough for us to reach, but frequently it isn’t. Same procedure as curtains.
- Before he leaves, ask YP to fill your ice bucket.
You never know when you might need ice, for anything from first aid to cocktails. Better to be prepared.
- Tip YP accordingly!
I always tip at the beginning of my stay – and I get great service.
Learn more about Julienne’s experience on wheels here, and be sure to say hi to her when you visit the Abilities Expo! Julienne is on staff with the Expo team and attends every event nationwide.
HITTING THE ROAD?
CHOOSE A CATHETER THAT MAKES TRAVEL EASIER
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