The spring season has begun and Covid-19 restrictions are starting to ease – things are definitely starting to look brighter. Many people, including those with disabilities, will soon be able to venture out and socialise with family and friends – possibly even go on holiday.
However, for some people with disabilities, the idea of leaving the house when restrictions lift is terrifying and it will take a long time to build up the confidence and feel safe in public places again. In 2020, Carrie-Ann Lightley, a travel and lifestyle blogger, published a blog that demonstrates how you can have a fun and restful holiday from the comfort of your own home.
For those of you that are still going to be spending a lot of time at home in the summer, read through Carrie-Ann’s blog post as it is full of creative ideas to help you have a well-deserved break without leaving your house.
Hands up disabled travellers – who’s missing accessible holidays? I know I am. So, I created my ultimate wheelchair accessible lockdown holiday at home.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about travel as a disabled person, it’s how to be creative. Whether that’s scouring the internet to find the best wheelchair accessible places to visit in Rome, hunting down products to help with accessible travel, or finding dog-friendly wheelchair accessible places to stay in the UK, I’ve become an excellent problem solver.
Lockdown means that wheelchair accessible travel in the UK and overseas is off the agenda at the moment, and I do so miss that holiday feeling; cocktails by the pool, exotic food, relaxing in the sun.
I’m incredibly fortunate to have a wheelchair accessible home, something that I’ve been even more grateful for during the Coronavirus crisis. The house does have stairs, I’m aware that there will come a time when I can’t manage to climb them, so I regularly research domestic stairlifts in the home, safe in the knowledge that I can plan to future-proof my house when the time comes.
To ease my longing for travel, I decided to combine my love for accessible holidays with my love for where I live and create my wheelchair accessible lockdown holiday at home.
If you’re a disabled traveller who’s longing for that holiday atmosphere, read on to find out how I used outside space, food, drinks, and a little creativity to carve out my own little haven, whilst still staying safe in isolation.
Accessible lockdown holiday at home tip one – outdoor space
A key component in my lockdown at-home holiday is an accessible outdoor space. I know how lucky I am to have this, having lived without any outdoor space for 7 years, and then spending another 4 years making our garden wheelchair accessible.
In a previous life, my husband was a landscaper, so he’s used his talents to transform our garden from sloping grass and gravel (very inaccessible) into one big paved space with a long central wheelchair ramp and different ‘zones’ for eating, cooking, chilling out and socialising.
This year’s project has become my favourite little corner – a sun trap with comfy cushions for lounging on, lavender plants for that calming scent, and a chimenea for the chilly evenings. Everything was made using reclaimed materials and upcycling – even the cushions.
In future, I’d love to add a hammock for the ultimate relaxing experience.
Accessible lockdown holiday at home tip two – home-delivered cocktails!
Regular readers and those who know me well won’t be at all surprised by this tip – for me, a holiday simply isn’t a holiday without a good cocktail! So, imagine my delight when I discovered an accessible way to get my favourite tipples, whilst supporting a local business and good causes, with just a few clicks.
A local restaurant launched a home delivery service for spirits, beers, cocktails and sweets, and for each purchase, they make a donation to fantastic local charities.
My personal favourites are the Mojito and the Passionfruit Martini. Anyone reading who’s local to Cumbria, I can’t recommend this service highly enough!
Accessible lockdown holiday at home tip three – summertime food
Food is a huge part of any accessible travel experience for me, I love trying new cuisines. For my at-home holiday, that means finding new recipes, getting deliveries from takeaways and restaurants I haven’t tried before, and experimenting with the BBQ.
This month I’ve tried locally made, home-delivered burritos from an excellent restaurant in Windermere, barbecued side dishes like sweet potato (so good!) to go with the usual meats, and my favourite lazy Sunday lunch for summer; slow-cooked roast chicken with a huge salad and stuffed jacket potatoes.
Accessible lockdown holiday at home tip four – exploring local wheelchair walks
Why do I love accessible travel? Because I love to explore new places! Clearly, that’s a huge challenge right now, but the slower pace of lockdown life has taught me to appreciate what I have closer to home.
Living on the edge of the Lake District means that sometimes popular walking routes can be busy, making social distancing a challenge.
Relying on dropped kerbs as a wheelchair user means that I have to use my psychic powers of deduction to work out what others around me are going to do (will they cross over when they see me coming? Won’t they?
Shall I just go down the middle of the road whilst muttering ‘2 metres!’), so I’ve taken to heading out at the crack of dawn to scope out the best wheelchair accessible routes whilst most people are still in bed.
Some people may think that the concept of an accessible holiday at home is a bit silly, but for me, it’s so important to take these mini-breaks; they help my body to recover from the days when I spend hours sat in my wheelchair hunched over a laptop, and my mental health benefits hugely from a break from all of the stressful things happening in the world at the moment.
Even in lockdown when the rules of ‘normal’ life are relaxed, I need to make a point of having this switched off time, which helps me to be more creative and productive on busier days.
By Carrie-Ann Lightley
More on Disability Horizons…