Florida Guide > Planning your Trip

Do you want to go to Florida for your dream holiday but have a family member like us who is unable to walk any distance who needs a wheelchair to get around, that may stop you going? Even worse, would be that person staying at home so you can have your dream holiday. We took my wife’s father who can walk about 50 metres at a time and needs a 5 minute rest before he could walk any further.

A lot of people would be put off travelling to Florida with someone who can’t walk very far who needs a wheelchair. As there is often a lot of walking to do, especially if you want to go to the attractions or the malls.

Staying in a private villa would be better than a hotel as the vast majority of villa’s are on one level so there are no stairs to climb or busy lifts to negotiate. There are also some villa’s that are wheelchair or disabled friendly. If the person is able to walk a short distance, like my wife’s father but needs a wheelchair for longer distances then almost any single level villa would be acceptable.

If you don’t normally have a wheelchair like us, we hired a lightweight one from St. John Ambulance for a small fee and it was OK to take abroad.

As far as the journey to Florida from the UK is concerned, every step of the way from the car park check in, the transfer bus and the airport check in we had people offering to help us. At the flight check in we joined the economy queue which was quite long as usual and one of the check in staff came over to us and personally took us to the upper class check in so we didn’t have to queue. You can check your own wheelchair in and use one of the airlines if you wanted to but we chose to us our wheelchair right up to boarding. You also board first as it takes a bit longer getting from the wheelchair to the seats on the plane. Landing in Florida at passport control there was a desk for people with wheelchairs that was separate to the normal long queue’s and there was only us and one other family in it so it was extremely quick going through.

When booking your rental car make sure you book a car big enough to take the wheelchair as well as all your luggage, we booked a 4x4 so there was plenty of room and as it‘s higher from the ground it was easier for my father in law to get in and out. The USA is very wheelchair friendly from the stores, malls and restaurants to the attractions. We took my father in law’s disabled parking sign so we could park in the disabled bays nearer to the entrances which having checked with the local police they said was acceptable to use.

As this was the first time we had travelled to Florida with a person who needed a wheelchair, we were pleasantly surprised how easy it was and how much help we were offered and also the priorities we got because of the wheelchair. We certainly have no qualms about doing it again so if you are in the same position don’t worry about it, it’s as easy as taking a small child in a pushchair.

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Page added on: 8 June 2009
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