Reaching for things in your pocket, whilst in your wheelchair can be a pain and no one wants to be THAT person holding up a queue.
So what do you do when your in a wheelchair and want easy access to stuff like your keys, wallet or passport?
Well before the best bet was to wear jacket or something with pockets on your top half or have a bag like this –
Now for me an under seat bag (like the one pictured above), never solved the problem of easily being able to grab what I need. I still found myself having to fumble around, because well, everything was under my seat.
The pouch on the back used to be another way to go, but it could be equally as challenging to reach behind you and have a rummage around.
Both of the above had issues, then came the Quokka Bag.
Quokka took the interesting step of mounting their bag onto the side of the wheelchair, which means it does create that ‘easy reach’ solution.
When I tested it, it felt like having a third pocket, something just by the side of me that I could reach into. The wallet, keys and phone problem definitely disappeared.
There are some catches though…
If have a wide wheelchair to begin with, the Quokka bag may not be for you because it will increase the width of your chair and the turning circle.
And while you can take the the bag off, like so:
This will not help in aisle ways or shops with crowded displays. Equally, I took mine on a night out with me and although it meant that my stuff was in easier reach, the bag does get in the way.
Or perhaps to put it another way, people find a way to find it.
I have to also state that both the bag and the mounting system are sturdy as hell. They even survived a trip on a plane without me removing the bag.
On a personal level, my desire to reduce unwanted ‘friction’ with other people and objects means that would not use this as long term solution.
Its been a while since we did our top tips for wheelchair pub crawls and some things have changed. New technologies and trends mean that it was well past time for refresh.
1. Cash is No Longer King
We previously wrote that it was better for the average wheelchair user to carry cash to pay for their rounds. We wrote this because it can be hard for the averaging wheeling drinker to get to the bar and even harder to carry a round back with them.
We said that you could avoid these problems by always carrying cash and having a trusted person go for you. We did not say give them your card because you shouldn’t really trust others with your pin and back when we wrote the original post, contactless limits were still low.
Nowadays though, many venues are cashless and even those who carry cash prefer card. Helpfully, contactless limits have gone up to around £30 per transaction. That limit is there to protect people from fraud but there is a catch and the catch is, if someone wants to spend more, all they have to do is split the order up into mini transactions that come in at around £30.
Now, we’re not saying that bartenders, waiters or even your friends will try and scam you, but you still want to know what you’re spending.
So, what do you do?
Enter digital banks.
They have slick apps that allow you to track your spending transaction by transaction. By using a Monzo or Revolut card, you can set strict limits, easily track your spending and protect yourself.
Bottom line – you can be at the bar without being at the bar.
2. Uber Is Your Friend
Now, before you go all ‘Uber are evil on me…”
Uber is and has never been any more evil than every other private hire company in the world.
So, with that out of way, here we go.
Uber is an app that uses GPS to come straight to you and can drop you exactly where you want.
For pub crawls in a wheelchair, Uber can be the only way to get around quickly.
The other thing about Uber is that they have a service specifically for disabled passengers. This is called Uber Assist – by ordering a Assist, you can guarantee a driver with specialist knowledge, who will come from further away and be better equipped to help you.
Uber also provides wheelchair accessible vans for those who cannot transfer. This is cheaper than black cab and again, easier to find in most major cities.
Use Uber and whether you’re in a wheelchair or visually impaired, take the stress of out of getting around on a night out.
3. Toilet Mapping
Nothing says sexy like. ‘accessible toilet mapping’, however if you want to really enjoy your wheelchair pub crawl, then it is a must.
Because good accessible toilet is hard to come by. The key thing is to think about it ahead of time. Where you will be going out and where an accessible toilet might be.
4. The Bag
People in wheelchairs have been carrying around bags long before we could ever lay claim to suggesting.
On a wheelchair pub crawl though, you may be thinking of leaving your bag behind but you shouldn’t.
The things that you put in a bag can be your get out of jail free card.
Spill something? No worries… You’ve got spare clothes.
Hands black from spinning those rims? No worries… You’ve got wet wipes.
Learn more more about what to put in a day bag here.
5. If You’re Staying Out
If you’re staying out or wanting a weekend away, you will be needing somewhere to stay.
This can be the tricky bit because if you need a wet room or hoist, it can be difficult to find rooms that have those features.
For some big chains like Premier Inn and Holiday Inn, it is easier to book these types of rooms than you think. Just go online.
However, if you are looking for somewhere a bit quirkier to stay, then check out AirBnB.
Airbnb has specific accessibility filters that you be assured of what type of property you getting, down to there being step free access to the front door etc.
6. Don’t Be Afraid To Bring Your Own Stuff
From reusable straws….
To easy to hold beakers
To non-spill beakers, you should not be afraid of packing your own stuff if that is going to make life easier for you.
How To Answer Those Awkward Questions
People ask wheelchair users awkward questions when they’re sober…
Never mind when they are drunk…
So if you’re on a wheelchair pub crawl, you have to be prepared (and accept) that you are going face some stupid questions.
So how do you deal with them?
There are no easy answers to this one and possibly the best strategy is have stock answers to the most stupid ones. The other way is just not to really respond because all though you may seem rude, opening up can lead you down a rabbit hole of further questions that you really do not want to answer.
Most people are given a wheelchair and that is it.
But you wouldn’t just give someone a bike and not show them how to ride it.
So why do the same way with a wheelchair?
The answer is that the person giving it to you has probably never piloted a wheelchair themselves, and even if they have, they probably don’t have time to show you a few things.
But without the knowledge and skills, a wheelchair is no better than a cage. So we thought that we’d share a few tips and tricks that we’ve picked up over the years.
The L Turn
The L Turn is a 90 degree turn in a tight space. It comes in particularly handy at home, for doing things in the kitchen for example. It easy to practice as well.
Place 4 markers on a flat floor in the shape of box.
Go into the centre of the box and turn left or right, so you go out forwards.
If you are in a manual or power chair, practicing Ls in a tight box like the one illustrated above will help you
- Go through doors.
- Turn in tight spaces.
What the L also does is gets the user to start to think about
Starting and Stopping
Sounds too obvious, doesn’t it?
The thing is though, starting and stopping is hard, and that is whether you are in an manual wheelchair or an electric one.
Starting can be hard because of where you start from such as in the middle of a hill. Stopping can be the same, how do you stop on a slope for example?
If you are in a power wheelchair for example, controlling the speed dial is the crucial aspect. It can be tempting to want to go as fast as possible because of impulse to ‘keep up’. However especially in crowds, you need to start and stop on the head of a pin.
Less is definitely more.
Manual Pushing Strokes
If you are using a manual wheelchair, altering your pushing stroke can be very important. This is because depending on whether your going up or down hill, across uneven terrain or through water.
Going Up and Down Hill
For going up hill in a manual chair, you want to try and lean forwards (if you can), shorten your pushing stroke and increase your frequency.
When going down hill, you want to run your fingers down the smooth side of the push rim and gently control your speed.
Making Your Way Across Uneven Terrain
Uneven terrain such as cobbles or fields are very tricky, even with some pro tips, many people will never fully master it but you can still become very good.
- On most uneven surfaces in a manual wheelchair, it is best to try and lift your front wheels as much as possible. The front wheels are the part of the chair mostly likely to get caught. You don’t need to keep the front wheels in the air (if you don’t have the balance), just keep tipping them and then inching forwards.
- Whether in a manual or electric chair, if you’re riding over uneven ground, it is always good to plan your route. By looking ahead, you can avoid many of the hardest hurdles and make your ride a little easier.
- It is important to also look down as much as possible, because it is very easy to get caught out by that little loose paving tile or crack. Those are among the most dangerous environmental factors. The only way to combat this is to keep an eye to the ground.