When you travel to visit family for the holidays, you may get an invitation to stay with them in their home. Sometimes they’ll insist. They won’t take no for an answer. They have room. They want to spend as much time as possible with you. They want to spoil you. Why spend the money for a hotel? When you are a person with a disability, the choice about your holiday accommodations can mean the difference between comfort and inconvenience. There are also safety factors to consider.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling guilty. After all they’re your family and know what buttons to push. And you do want to spend lots of time with them. Who doesn’t want to wake up to the smell of your favorite breakfast cooking, or stay up late at night and talk about old times? Plus the holidays can give us that longing to return to family traditions, even if they’ve been long forgotten.
I don’t have anything against staying in a relative’s home for the holidays, but be realistic about your physical needs. Consider if you’ll feel comfortable and safe in a home without the requirements you need. If you can bring along your equipment, ask your family if it’s alright first. The doorways may not be wide enough for your wheelchair. They may be concerned that your portable grab bar for the shower will leave marks. Another issue is that the guest bedroom is on the second floor and you can’t make the stairs. Using a toilet that isn’t handicap accessible may be possible, but cause you discomfort.
Weigh the pros and cons of staying in your family’s home for the holidays. Have an open discussion. If you know that it won’t work and a hotel is your only choice, be honest. Explain that you need a handicap accessible room. The decision has nothing to do with feelings, but with safety.
You can still spend a lot of time with your family. Try to use the hotel just for sleeping if possible. Invite them to spend time in public places where you’ll have accessible restrooms, seating, and other things you need. Remind your relatives that the holidays are about being with family, but not where you are together. Next year, invite them to your home and don’t insist they stay with you!
Connie Roberts is a professional blogger who makes it her mission to advocate for people with medical issues. Travel with a disability is not a struggle, but an opportunity to see the world and let others see that it’s possible and a lot of fun. Tweet with her @ConnieFoggles.