Disabled Bathroom Tips While Travelling Abroad
Ask anyone living with a disability, or their family, and near the top of their lists of ‘things to think about’ when planning a holiday is the logistics around using the bathroom, from bathing to toileting. Unfortunately the quality of disabled bathrooms around the world varies, with some being highly impractical. In this guide we’ll provide some advice for navigating bathroom use with a disability.
Find out what’s on offer before you go
Doing your research on bathroom options at your key destinations
Researching bathrooms might sound strange to most people, but anyone living with a disability personally or in a family member, will be well-versed in the art of Google searching toilet facilities in different places.
As you build an itinerary, it’s a great idea to look into the disabled bathroom options at each destination. This means hotels, airports, activities, and even landmarks. We never know when nature calls – therefore the more planning around available bathroom facilities, the better.
What hotels offer
Most notably in your bathroom research should be where you’ll spend a good chunk of time in the nighttime and morning – the hotel. While you may find some useful information on the hotel’s website, you may find you need to get in direct contact with the customer support team to get images and even measurements of the bathrooms to ensure they are big enough and allow for ease of access.
If a bathroom offers bathrooms with an open plan, or walk-in/roll-in showers, you may not even need to select a room with a ‘disabled’ bathroom. Why? There are purpose built shower mobility chairs for travel. More on this later.
What do sites, like museums or landmarks, offer disabled bathroom users?
As we touched on earlier, we never know when we may need to use the bathroom, so knowing that each tourist spot you’ll visit has adequate bathrooms is a good idea. What you’re looking for when researching is mostly a bathroom that is physically big enough to access and use for a disabled person and their carer.
If the bathroom has handrails and an open plan for freedom of movement, even better. But it’s not a good idea to rely upon any of these features as a given, hence our suggestion to do your homework.
The good news is that for any large buildings, you should be relatively safe with disabled bathroom facilities. The more remote landmark sites are the most important attractions to check up on; a really popular site can host tens of thousands of visitors a day – a portion of whom may occupy the disabled bathroom. The number of bathrooms available is important – not simply what they offer.
Use Google Maps to get a visual indication of access to bathrooms
Google Maps – and specifically ‘Street View’ is a highly valuable tool for any prospective traveller looking to get a better idea of a place they’ve not been to. Combining street view with google maps location listing’s ‘photos’ section, you can start to build an idea of the access and potentially even the bathroom facilities available.
While you can simply enquire with the travel operator, this is a quick way to check on your own. It’s also a great tool to use for any activity where there are no bathrooms in the site itself (such as the beach), but you want to get an idea of the distance to the nearest facilities. Try it out!
Planning ahead for breaks
Planning a day with bathroom breaks in mind
Of course, it’s a good safety net to plan a daily itinerary with set moments to use the bathroom for someone with a disability. This can reduce the number of random bathroom usage as well as time spent potentially supporting the individual to stay clean. If your loved one lives with both mental and physical disabilities that don’t allow for controlled bathroom habits, planning a day with bathroom breaks is also important to facilitate efficient commode change out and dignity.
Proximity of activities to bathrooms
There’s many activities such as visiting the beach where a bathroom isn’t part of the destination. In these cases, it’s a good idea to map out how far away bathrooms are – any great distance and you may find you’ll need to work out a portable commode solution or potentially rework activities accordingly.
If bathroom use is a concern, you may look to plan out a day where each activity is less than a few hours in length, providing more opportunities for accessing bathrooms in between. This really only applies for those sites where part of the experience requires time away from facilities like bathrooms.
Don’t forget these items!
Bringing your own hygiene measures
Much like bathroom accessibility varies greatly from place to place, so do the available hygiene features. Here’s how we’d suggest packing for these occasions:
Bring a sub-100ml bottle of hand soap to take with you so everyone can keep hands clean and hygienic after using a public disabled bathroom – diabled user and carer.
Anti-bacterial wipes or even baby wipes are excellent to have with you in case of clean ups or pre-use wipedowns. You definitely don’t want to rely on bathrooms having these in popular tourist destinations.
After using the bathroom, both the disabled individual and their family member or carer should use hand sanitiser once outside. This helps to ensure that any remaining bacteria or bugs are dealt with before returning to the holiday!
What about folding chairs?
Consider bringing your own portable bathroom equipment with you
Reliance upon disabled bathrooms comes with inherent risks; that you may not find an appropriately equipped room with grab bars or elevated toilet seat, that a shower will lack a good seat with support or that the bathroom itself may be less than sparkling clean.
But there’s another issue – we can’t ensure that even a well-kitted out disabled bathroom in a nice hotel will provide support that we’re used to at home.
If any of these scenarios are of concern, our advice is to consider a portable bathroom chair designed for travel. A bathroom mobility chair offers a compact, but supportive assistive solution that can be taken everywhere on holiday with the user.
A good bathroom mobility chair will allow the user to access an open plan shower and toilet with the help of a carer, reducing any manual transferring between the two. The best part? A bathroom mobility chair is the user’s alone. There’s no concern around shared surfaces, giving extra peace of mind to everyone.
Benefits of a portable bathroom mobility chair
Here’s why a portable bathroom mobility chair might be a smart investment:
- They offer the same familiar toilet and showering experiences in terms of support and body positioning, regardless of the bathroom.
- They have caster wheels that help maneuver the chair within tight spaces.
- They’re easy to move around by a carer with the user in the chair.
- They pack down to a small footprint making for easy transport on a plane, car or other modes of transport.
- Easy to keep clean – remove components like seat cushion and wash down separately.
Learn more about Showerbuddy’s range for disabled travellers
Showerbuddy provides solutions for mobility-impaired travellers. Head over to our travel range page to explore our purpose-built travel shower chairs. A good bathroom mobility chair that can come on the road with you makes travel much easier.
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