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Holidays with a disability

11 April 2014

mother & son in sunglasses smiling for a selfie

In the lead up to the Easter break many of us may be planning our next holiday. Getting away on a holiday has many benefits for health and well-being: we feel less stressed, have greater energy levels and studies even show our blood pressure and sleep patterns improve.

However, for some people with a disability and their family the thought of a holiday away from home can provoke additional anxiety. Additional challenges may be anticipated such as not having the usual assistive equipment, not being able to access tourist spots or the fear of not being able to make your needs understood by the locals.

My family recently went on a holiday to Busselton for four days. This was the first holiday we had been on in a number of years with my brother Simon, who has an intellectual and physical disability. Our family usually goes on holidays separately with someone staying home with Simon in the comfort of the family home where everything is accessible, and the routines are familiar. Although our stay at Busselton was short it required planning and preparation. The following tips may help you in planning your next holiday.


Do your homework about the accommodation

modified toilet and shower

Gather as much information as possible about the accommodation before you book. Make sure you request photos and measurements of the room and any equipment. For example, if you require a hoist for bed transfers, ask for a photo showing the clearance under the bed. Read reviews on accommodation if available to find out what other travellers experienced. See below for some websites offering accommodation reviews.

We decided to stay at Abbey Beach Resort which has a number of wheelchair accessible two-bedroom apartments. We were able to see photos of the bathroom to identify what equipment was in place and what we needed to bring. This was very useful as we could identify that the drop-down shower seat would be suitable for Simon’s needs.

There was one disadvantage to our accommodation which we didn’t know beforehand. None of the three swimming pools had accessibility features such as a hoist, sloped entry or a handrail. This meant Simon was unable to go for a swim, an activity he loves to do. We have provided this feedback to the resort, so hopefully this will be improved for future stays.

Research accessible holiday activities

Another tip is to research the activities to do when you get there. Look for activities that are wheelchair accessible or contact the tourist bureau to find out more information.

Busselton has several wheelchair accessible activities. The Busselton Jetty train can transport one wheelchair per trip and strollers and some walkers can be stored within the carriage compartment. We visited Simmo’s for ice cream and played mini golf. The mini golf had two small steps to get to the mini golf area, but a small ramp could be used to get up these steps.

Organise equipment needs

Simon requires a commode for showering and a bed rail to assist with transferring in and out of bed. As his equipment at home isn’t easy to transport we decided to hire a folding commode and bed rail from  Indigo Hire for our trip. They have a large number of assistive equipment options for short term hire which is fantastic for taking away on holiday or using while holidaying in Perth.

You can book the equipment you need, and they can arrange to have it couriered both to and from your accommodation if needed.

two smiling females and a male sitting at a table with drinks

The main benefit of this holiday for our family was spending time together. It is easy to get stuck in routines throughout the week, but this holiday was a chance to slow down. It was lovely to go for a walk on the path running along the beach and we received lots of smiles and hellos from fellow holidaymakers.

If you would like more information and resources for travelling with a disability check out these websites: