I travelled to Dublin for a few nights over the festive period (Christmas day included.) We stayed in a lovely hotel by the river. They had an amazing breakfast with so so much choice- perfect for someone who never eats with her morning tablets & then gets heart burn & stomach ache) – perhaps I’ll do a medication post in the future.
So! I hired a mobility scooter. I usually find it very embarrassing to use a mobility scooter. I’m not a 90 year old frail woman. I don’t look old enough, ill enough and frankly just feel I look like an overweight girl who is too lazy to walk. Obviously this is not the case, after getting over myself- the embarrassment and also acceptance of needing an aid, it really meant we all could have a great holiday.
The company we used were mobility direct in Dublin (my lovely mum sorted this all out prior to our booking!) Martin (manager) was great & managed to get our scooters delivered before Christmas (they rightfully close over the festive period.) We unfortunately encountered a few battery problems but they were sorted by Martin himself. I would highly recommend this company if you happen to find yourself in need of an aid in Dublin! (They have all sorts!)firstname.lastname@example.org
I am in the fortunate position where I am able to walk. For many they would become restricted here. I could get out my mobility scooter and leave it for a few minutes to go into a shop, a lot of mobility aid users wouldn’t. On a bad day- I wouldn’t be able to save energy to make it up these steps. I know for many people disabled access is crucial everyday. Surely it’s easy? Put a slope instead of steps and a slightly wider door. It should be a basic human right to be able to access a shop no matter your condition.Dublin Accessibility
By the end of the trip I was falling asleep on the scooter. We adjusted the handlebars and my sister stood on the front and drove. I rested on the back ( a bonus if there’s only two of you travelling the other person could save their feet and you could get around quicker)
I had to go out to buy two pairs of gloves. Having your hands out on the scooter meant they get colder! Also having issues with my hand joints anyway meant I did occasionally struggle with pain in my hands and wrists due to the mechanism to keep the scooter moving. Maybe something to bare in mind for someone with movement conditions or muscle weakness. I also had to buy an extra jumper as being on the scooter meant I went faster but as I was not burning calories whilst walking the wind made for a chilly ride!
USE IT OR LOSE IT! Walk as much as you can but don’t over do it! You’ll be more fatigued than usual when away so do cut yourself some slack.
PROS & CONS OF MOBILITY SCOOTER HIRE:
- Get around quicker.
- Preserve Energy.
- Lessen the Risk of falling. (I fall a lot.)
- A chair everywhere you go (including pubs if there are no seats)
- People move out your way (well some!)
- Handlebars make an excellent pillow!
- You can go around shops to browse without fatigue.
- Your disability becomes visible.
- People don’t move out your way!
- People stare or avoid eye contact.
- Accessibility in many shops is shocking.
Ticcing in the chair made me look particularly special. Urges of wanting to put my speed up or suddenly stop. One bonus though was that I was able to wear heels and not worry about not being able to stand or walk in them. Anyone who knows me well will have only ever seen me in two pairs of memory foam sketchers. Now I was able to be a ‘Fashionista in a chair!’
St Steven’s Green Shopping Centre: It’s huge! It’s beautiful. Lots of room to skkrrr about in my scooter. The main shops such as Dunnes (my favourite) are very spacious and plenty of room to ride scooters around. I didn’t notice too many benches or places to sit so could be a problem if you were attempting chaotic sales by foot! As for food places they were also pretty limited inside the shopping centre. Something to bare in mind if you need regular snacks or food with tablets, children etc…
Taxi’s: We spent a small fortune on taxis. Saving energy when going out for an evening meal or drinks. You can request disabled friendly taxis which fit a small wheelchair in. The ‘my taxi’ app was the best way to book regular cabs.
Attractions: We didn’t do too many touristy attractions, particularly because not much was open over Christmas! What we did do was the Jeanie Johnston: An Irish famine story. This was a replica boat on the river & I would 10000% recommend it. We managed to get free carer tickets to accompany & had a very small tour group. The tour guide was exceptionally informative and clearly liked his job. The steps up to the boat (or ladder should I say) unfortunately would restrict a lot of people although my grandma did have a good go! My advice would be always check if wheelchairs are available free to hire. Carers tickets are usually free to take proof of a disability (or simply tourettes at them and they get the message). Call ahead and ask for a smaller group booking and how accessible attractions are, where toilets are etcetc. We heard great things about the Boat Cruises, Guinness factory & Abandoned prison although didn’t have time! (nothing is really open over Christmas which we expected.)
Grafton Street. Loads of great shops here including all the designer ones! The streets surrounding this area are all filled with restaurants and shops, there is mostly have flat entry everywhere with dropped curbs despite a few issues on the way. Every few shops is up a step so may not be accessible for all. The streets are very very very busy! The big shops are realllllyyy busy too! Dodging small children, street performers and old ladies walking super slowly centrally down the street- you will need to dodge people to avoid them losing limbs. The majority of the people around these streets aren’t locals, think tourists walking with not much clue of where they are going. Many of the cafes and pubs unfortunately do not have flat entry, although we did manage to find a few chain places with sloped side entrances. Having the scooters inside the smaller shops and restaurants was a bit of a nightmare to be honest – for some people I know it isn’t an option but for me going on foot here was a lot more practical. Most places in this area do have outdoor seating- perhaps this could be an easier option in the summer.
A day with a dead battery. FAIL! Slower than walking, the batteries are practically impossible for an able bodied person to lift let alone those of us who are a little wobbly! Having the charger on you always and perhaps a contact for a spare battery or the provider of the scooter is probably a good safety behaviour. PLAN!
BOOK SPECIAL ASSISTANCE AT THE AIRPORT WHEN YOU BOOK YOUR FLIGHTS!!!!
SPECIAL ASSISTANCE AT LUTON AIRPORT WENT ABOVE EXPECTATIONS.
DUBLIN AIRPORT UNFORTUNATELY MISSED THE MARK CONSIDERABLY!
- Meet and greet as soon as you arrive in the airport terminal.
- Wheelchairs offered (although I went on foot)
- Personal assistant offered to push wheelchairs or carry bags and help fast track through security.
- WINNY AT CUSTOMS YOU ARE AN IDIOT.
- No queues at all.
- Passports checking- they come to you.
- Priority seating area before going to gate with assistant per disabled customer.
- Taken in a lift and through back exits.
- A Personal driver and van to drive you to the aircraft itself.
- Passports and boarding passes checked in the van.
- Met on the other side of the plane in a vehicle
WINNY. She didn’t make security very easy. She was very unhelpful for a passenger travelling with anxiety and tourettes through customs. I assure you holding in shouting obscene words at her, about her and about bombs is difficult enough. Winny was one particular member of staff who frankly was a cow. She was very jobsworth and simply did not want to be working over the festive period so took it upon herself to be an utter imbecile and cause unnecessary chaos. Check your liquid allowance before you go. Have an able bodied person with you helps so they can touch your bags and carry them on and off the conveyor belt when you have ‘A Winny’to contend with & have explained you cannot lift heavy things and have special assistance booked. (Thanks to my sister much love bro xxxxx) Don’t over pack. She will make you unpack everything, re pack 4 times, take all your liquids out of your own plastic bags and put them into one small plastic bag even though her colleague had already checked the bags of us and given us 2 bags extra each aswell as the all clear that things were fine. She was ridiculously anal and clearly bored. Prepare for stresses like these. It delayed us about 40minutes. Thankfully we made sure we had a whole load of extra time.
Dublin special assistance. I felt bad for them. They were inundated. There were two members of staff in the terminal working with an average of 8 passengers travelling per flight who required special assistance. A blind lady was sat waiting to be taken through to her flight (it took off in 15minutes) and she still hadn’t been through customs. We decided it would be quicker to pile bags and suitcases onto my grandmas lap on her wheelchair and a trolley. Very impractical. Struggling with fatigue more than normal as it was the end of the trip, pushing a wheelchair and carrying heavy bags really was not easy. But we survived hey ho. I would say have at least two able bodied people per disabled person if you aren’t planning to use special assistance, although we pre booked there were simply not enough staff to accommodate. We did manage to get extra help from customs to the gate after my wonderful mother explained our situation. (They had electronic golf buggies and manual wheelchairs) which made things easier to get to the gate. There was no way I would’ve been able to walk to it (hundreds and hundreds). It’s definitely time airports updated to electric wheelchairs.
Appreciation for the 5ft petite little women (my family) who pushed me around! I do feel guilty. But unfortunately life isn’t always as easy as it should be.
Appreciation to the few members of the public that treat you ‘normally’. Didn’t avoid eye contact. Didn’t question you. Offered help if it was needed (4 people walked past me stuck under the jewellery stand, yet only one person helped me… usually I am very independent and don’t like help. But the acknowledgment when someone has hurt them self is humane. Ignoring walking past not so great. Having a hidden disability can sometimes suck. People assumed that my grandmother: the slightly older lady who presents to be struggling was the only disabled person in the group, that I was sat in her scooter, or she needed help getting upstairs, carrying things or access to a disabled loo. YES! she did she struggles with chronic health conditions too. The Reality of invisible disabilities is that 3/4 of us on our trip were struggling with hidden illness.
After a few days recovery from a busy trip away with minor mishaps including ramming into a jewellery stand in a shop and getting my arm stuck between the scooter and the table. I am looking forward to planning my next trip.
Life doesn’t always deal you the best cards. Grab any opportunity you can while you can.
HAPPY TRAVELLING XXXX