by Marissa Horanic
Living in such an inaccessible world can be really disappointing at times, as it seems like parts of life are out of reach or simply kept away from us for no logical reason. Having limited mobility shouldn’t have to hold us back. While many things seem unfair, the fact of the matter is that having limited mobility doesn’t have to mean that you can’t do fun things like camping. It may not be easy, but with the right tools, you can make it easier.
Any camping trip requires planning, but with limited mobility, we’ll need to put a little more effort into the planning side of things.
Study campgrounds and choose a campsite wisely.
Here are some important things to consider and research before deciding on a campsite:
- What are the bathroom facilities like? Is there enough room in a stall in case you need assistance, or is there an accessible family stall? Are there shower chairs or tubs for those who can’t stand in the shower?
- How is the ground structured? Is it grass, gravel, dirt, asphalt, etc.?
- How are the trails and walking paths? Are there staircases, handrails, lots of tree roots, lots of hills, etc.?
- What facilities are available and/or nearby? Are there restaurants, convenience stores, pools, etc.? Where’s the closest hospital or medical facility?
- How’s the access road to popular sites, like pools, lakes, scenic overlooks, etc.?
- Do you need a water hookup or electricity? Not all tent sites and cabins have one or the other, or both.
Pick camping equipment to fit your needs.
Thankfully, you can find some adaptive camping equipment on various websites and in various stores. Wheelchair-accessible tents actually exist! Here are some considerations to take in when purchasing and packing camping equipment:
- Sleeping on a cot or a collapsible bed to make transfers easier (they can also be easier to stand up from than air mattresses and sleeping mats)
- Choosing items with wheels to aid in transporting, such as coolers, food containers, tent bags, etc.
- If you use a mobility aid: are you able to make adaptations for “off road” terrain?
- Double check what your campsite offers. Packing something already provided just makes more of a hassle out of packing and unloading.
Have a camping-specific meal plan.
This is especially important if you have dietary requirements or restrictions.
- Research nearby restaurants and stores. Can you eat anything on the menu? Do nearby stores carry your foods in case you run out, burn something, leave something behind?
- While you can save on packing by waiting until arrival and shopping at stores nearby your campsite, consider the energy used to travel, and pack at least one day/evening’s worth of food. You may get there, set up, and have no energy left to go grocery shopping painlessly.
- Plan meals that are easy to prepare and require a minimal amount of dishes. There are many camping-friendly one-pan dishes. They may cost more, but pre-made meals that only require heating up can be your best friend when camping.
Don’t hesitate to rest if you need to.
While you may feel pressure to be active every moment of your trip, give yourself some leeway to relax and reset.
- If you normally lay down if/when you need to, schedule time in your schedule to be horizontal. You can read, take a nap (inside or outside!) get some sunshine, etc.
- Bring materials for your normal relaxing activities. Things like yarn for knitting, markers for drawing, handheld gaming devices, etc. can help you feel more at ease with your downtime during your trip.
- When your trip is over and you return home, your body will need time to readjust and recuperate. Give yourself time to rest if you need it. The laundry can wait, unpacking can wait. Plan to do nothing but only the absolute necessities for the first few days after you return.
And please, remember to have fun and enjoy the moment. After all, the great outdoors aren’t just for able bodied people.