We had a rare opportunity to travel as a family as Richard had two weeks off around the holidays. . Figuring out where to go took some effort. Seattle and Portland were two obvious choices but not for winter. I asked other people and also spent a fair amount of time googling, “nonstop flights two hours” from SFO and then three hours. As you see, the winner was Austin. (Thank you to Gwen for all the advice!)
I was so excited to take this trip as our family has an interest in Presidential libraries and loves BBQ. But, traveling away from home with an individual with a lot of mobility and medical needs takes thinking, planning and a leap of courage. Bill used to always say we can buy anything we forget but that is not the situation with Lizzie. Over the years we have developed quite a packing list on the computer. Planning and checking off the list is very helpful to not forgot anything. We have traveled a lot within California, car trips, flew to Vegas once and all attended Richard’s graduation in Boston! This was different than our other trips in that it was a “touring” trip.
Lizzie always was a great traveler and the trip to Austin was no exception. Bill and Richard did all the heavy work with Lizzie and were the best sports and travel partners in the world. They pushed Lizzie in her wheelchair all over the city because of course I said, who needs a car, we can walk. In reality we walked one way and then would uber the other. If you select uber premium the car/SUV is large enough to accommodate 4 adults and the wheelchair. Lizzie is quite strong and with assistance easily transfers into an SUV or car.
I had made up a tentative schedule of places to go and eat and every day we wheeled out of the hotel ready to go.I kept the list in my back pocket in case we needed to readjust our plans. Then we let the weather forecast determine our activity. We usually figured that out the night before.
I’m giving Austin huge marks for being accessible. In the capital building there is a sign outside of the elevator that read, “give disabled priority.” Love it! The walking path to the capital building had very clear signs to direct you to the accessible entrance. In all of Austin, for the most part, the sidewalks were large and had even surfaces. One night we went to a local park to enjoy the Christmas light display. Disabled individuals and companions were allowed to enter the festival an hour before the general public. What a joy to be able to enjoy the lights without a huge crowd. I never noticed an early entrance to any other events we’ve attended with Lizzie anywhere.
Here are some photos of our trip!
1. After booking the flights I called hotel choices to find out room configuration and if a roll in shower was available. I double checked the hotel prior to arrival. Guess I should have triple checked as the room wasn’t available the first night. Our rooms were fixed by the next day so no problem!
2. I’ve found it is easier to stay in hotel rooms for Lizzie’s needs but really prefer a condo or house. The hotels are more predictable about following ADA.
3. Since we were not renting a car I checked distance from our hotel to each activity or restaurant while still at home. Some of our restaurant choices were based on distance.
3. Planned a doable schedule for us. That included one major outing a day, back to hotel for a rest, then dinner. I carried the schedule in my back pocket.
4. Picked a time for leaving hotel every morning that was reasonable. Ok, 11 am was reasonable for us! We have found a specific time gets us going better.
5. The leap of courage it takes to be in an unpredictable situation is buffered by traveling with loved ones. Somehow if Lizzie freaked out on the plane or something else happened I knew there was family there to help. We were 3 on 1 which is a more comfortable ratio than our norm! Thanks Richard.
6. While this was our first trip to be sightseers we’ve made multiple car trips to Southern California, Ojai, Pismo, flown to Vegas for Lizzie’s birthday a few years ago and flew to Richard’s graduation in Boston. The more you travel the easier it gets and the more courage you’ll have.
7. So, plan plan plan, organize and take a leap of faith. It’s fun to travel, learn new things and revitalize the monotony of everyday life! If you have any travel suggestions send them along.