Planning an Accessible Staycation for Wheelchair Users

Planning for a year-end staycation with your loved one with disability or for yourself? Our former Transition to Employment client Mr Tan Hung Bak and his wife share some tips [...]

Planning for a year-end staycation with your loved one with disability or for yourself? Our former Transition to Employment (TTE) client Mr Tan Hung Bak and his wife share some tips to help you get started.

Look for hotels with accessible amenities

The key highlight of any staycation is probably the accommodation itself. For wheelchair users, it is important to research for accessible hotels in advance.

Agoda, Bookings.com, and Expedia are some resources to search for suitable hotels.

“As the needs of persons with disabilities vary, it is good to contact the hotels directly and find out more about the accessibility features,” shared Mr Tan. “Don’t be shy to state your needs and ask for photos and videos of the room too.”

A collage of two photos. The first photo shows a hotel bathroom with a shower seat. The second photo shows Mr Tan with a clothes drying rack at a height suitable for wheelchair users.

When choosing a room, it will be helpful to ask the following questions:

  • Size of room entrance and room
  • Any grab bars, commode seat and shower seat in the toilet
  • Any anti-slip mat in the room
  • Bed dimensions (the bed height is a crucial determinant of wheelchair transfers)
  • Location of emergency exit

A tip that Mr Tan has found useful is by providing the hotel with the wheelchair dimensions so that they can ascertain if it could fit into the bathroom.

“So far, the hotel staff whom we encountered are well-equipped to work with persons with disabilities. Most of them are also able to handle wheelchairs professionally,” he said.

Pick a location with barrier-free attractions

Mr Tan and his daughter

When selecting a hotel, one should also consider its proximity to barrier-free attractions and the availability of transport options to take you there.

Make a checklist of essentials

Having a list of necessities to prepare prior to the trip may minimise any unnecessary surprises. Besides essentials such as toiletries, clothing and medication, persons with disabilities and their loved ones should also review if there are additional items to bring along.

“I brought along an anti-slip mat for the bathroom just in case. We also found it useful to have with us a transfer board and wheelchair seat cover,” shared Mrs Tan, who is also Mr Tan’s caregiver.

Be prepared for unforeseen circumstances

Despite thorough checks, Mr Tan and his family still faced unexpected challenges during the trip.

“While I was showering in the hotel bathroom during one of my staycations, I realised that the shower seat attached to the wall was not suitable for a paraplegic like me. There was no grab bar to hold on to so I risked sliding out of the seat which became slippery during the shower. Luckily, I had my family members to assist me,” he recounted.

Maneuvering the wheelchair in a carpeted room proved to be another difficulty for Mr Tan, though he viewed it as a good form of exercise. But this could be an added challenge for persons with weaker arm strength.

Mrs Tan also observed that some hotels do not have grab bars around the beds, which may increase fall risk.

Portable grab bars that can be inserted under the beds.
Having grab bars around the beds can help wheelchair users to sit and stand up safely and more easily. Photo credit: amazon.com

“It will be good if hotels can consider providing portable grab bars which can be inserted under the beds. This will allow wheelchair users to sit and stand up safely and more easily,” suggested Mrs Tan.

Most importantly, have fun!

Going on a staycation after acquiring disability is not something Mr Tan regrets, though there were some hiccups along the way. In fact, he encourages fellow persons with disabilities (PwDs) to venture out of their comfort zones.

For PwDs who are not used to going outdoors, they can start by visiting familiar places with their loved ones before trying out staycations.

Mr Tan with his wife and daughter

“Planning for a staycation is a good testing ground to prepare us for other trips such as going abroad. The staycation trips have also given me the much-needed opportunity to bond and relax with my family,” said Mr Tan.

“Accessibility in Singapore is improving so to other PwDs who are hesitant to embark on a staycation, I’d say “give it a go”! Don’t deny yourself the opportunity to try out new things in life.”

Photo credit: Mr Tan Hung Bak

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