When we found out, about six months ago, that we were lucky enough to take this trip to Europe we knew that we had to start planning right away; Tyler uses a manual wheelchair. Our itinerary included France, Italy, Czech Republic, and Germany. Research was our first step in order to get a good understanding on what we wanted to see and what to expect.
Here are some of the things we did to prepare for this trip:
- We read books about the places we are going. I read I Survived The Destruction of Pompeii and I Survived the Nazi Invasion by Lauren Tarshis. These children’s books are an easy read and take you back to these events. I really like them.
- We started watching videos about the cities we were going traveling in. We knew it was important to research each city we were going to visit. We wanted decide on where we to stay, the things we wanted to eat and the attractions we wanted to see. It was also interesting to see, the terrain of the places we wanted to visit. For instance, watching videos helped us to know that a beautiful hillside city on the Amalfi coast in Italy was probably not the best side trip out of Rome when traveling with a wheelchair. So, we decided to stick with a tour of the Vatican instead.
- We found games on the computer to help us learn about Europe. Tyler and I came across a puzzle of the European Map on com. It had helped us to know where the countries are in Europe. This is Tyler’s favorite.
- We pre-booked all of the tours we wanted to go on so that we would not have to wait in line or miss seen an attraction because we had not planned well. For instance to the famous Louvre Art Museum and the Vatican.
- We downloaded a free app for Europe with audio tours. We will be using these audio tours in many of the locations we are going.
- As we were trying to find places to stay, we found out that working with VRBO was the best way for us traveling with Tyler in his wheelchair. We found them very accessible and helpful and that is how we found where we were going to stay.
- As far as packing goes, our family decided to travel with backpacks. We felt like it was beneficial over a rolling suitcase to our hands free so that we can push Tyler or help him in anyway. We also love that the backpack fits on the back of his wheelchair.
- Because we are traveling with backpacks and not rolling suitcases, we are trying to pack as light as possible. Our family will be in Europe for two weeks but we will only bring clothing enough for one week. We plan on washing our clothes, in one of the flats we rented, halfway through our trip.
- Before heading out on this adventure, we did a little tune-up on the wheelchair. We made sure that the brakes were tight and that it was fitting him properly and is comfortable for him to be in all day. It may be a good idea to bring a small set of tools in case you need to make any adjustments on the wheelchair.
- We are taking with us a letter from Tyler’s primary care physician identifying Tyler’s medical diagnosis along with all of the medications he is taking. Our doctor added all of his contact information in case we needed any medical care while we were on vacation. It also is a good idea to carry your insurance card in case of emergencies. We contacted our insurance provider before we left to double check and see what would happen if we did need emergency medical care overseas. It’s always good to know your company’s policy.