21 January 2016
Kat Lambert – Travelling with Todd pt.1
For most couples, a simple weekend away doesn’t take a lot of planning – book the easiest flights, find a suitable hotel on the cheap and away you go! But travelling with a young Aussie with high care needs is not so simple… Kat Lambert explains.
The aim of this post when I first agreed to write it was to outline the additional planning and costs when travelling with someone who has a physical disability. However the more I thought about it, the more it became a post to outline the difference that Youngcare makes to so many people’s lives, and just how grateful I am that such an organisation exists.
In August this year, Todd and I planned our first trip away together. I asked him if he wanted to accompany me to my cousin’s 30th Birthday celebrations in Melbourne and although he wasn’t entirely convinced that we were ready to take that step in our relationship, upon finding out that his AFL team were playing in Melbourne that very weekend, he happily accepted (with a condition that we would attend the game of course). We had been together three months, so whilst it was still relatively new, it was by no means a big deal in most relationships to travel interstate together for a few days by this stage.
When we made the decision a month prior that we would attend, Todd checked with me over and over. He wanted to make sure that I was prepared. I would need to do all his personal care, and in Melbourne we were far from the comforts of home and the support network that would be able to offer any assistance should we encounter any difficulties. Me, being me, just assumed he was overreacting, I mean, how hard could it be?
So I started the planning like I do with every trip I take, with great amounts of procrastination. “Yes babe, we’ll look at hotels tomorrow”, “we will just wait to see if the flights come on sale before we can book”. Luckily for me, Todd was persistent, he knew what was involved, and was not taking kindly to my procrastination.
We booked the flights with the most expensive airline. What would have cost me $200 return was costing us $800 return ($400 each). Finding an access friendly hotel that was actually access friendly meant that we needed to go with one of the larger, well-known, and you guessed it, more expensive ones. We then proceeded to find a mobility equipment hire place to hire a shower chair and hoist to enable Todd’s basic needs, like going to the toilet and getting in and out of bed to be met. We used a manual chair in the building instead of risking damage to Todd’s power chair for the short duration we’d be gone.
The planning was massive. The cost was double what any able-bodied partners would pay for the same trip. However, all in all, the weekend went off without incident (except for the football in which our team got slaughtered) and I found it hard to understand why Todd thought travel was going to be such a big deal?
Until our latest trip to Sydney for Youngcare’s “Getting Home: Accommodation Solutions” think tank. The team at the Youngcare office had checked out the accommodation, including getting the hotel to forward through photos of the bathroom, and the bedroom to make sure the hoist could be used and the shower chair would fit both over the toilet and in the shower with ease. The flights were booked. It took us forever to find hire places for mobility equipment in Sydney, but eventually we found some, and the YC team were able to liaise with them to arrange suitable delivery and hire conditions for the one night we’d be in Sydney. All set for an incident free, overnight trip, similar to that of Melbourne, or so we thought.