Dave Jacka

Travel lighter, travel easier!

I love to get away from the familiar four walls for a while, although I don’t do it as much as I would like.  It tends to be a long time between drinks for my big trips but I find, even for a quick fix, getting away for a few days recharges my psychological battery, making me feel happier, more creative (clearing my mind) and energized to get on with life.  I think its the change of scenery and the experiences; meeting new people, seeing something new or doing something different, that makes it what it is.

However I do find the simplest of trips can be a logistical challenge, endeavouring to find suitable accommodation or even just trying to arrange suitable support (carers) to give me my independence and function in the different, and at times, challenging environments.

One of the challenges is the amount of equipment I need to take to help me function in my daily life.  The days of just packing a toothbrush and a pair of undies for a trip are long gone.  

Apart from my clothes, basic personal items, electrical equipment; cameras and chargers, the bulk of what I need to take is specialised equipment.  This ranges from medical supplies, tools, spare axil, tubes, spare cushion, pump & puncture kit, my wheelchair of course and a big, heavy commode (a wheelchair I use to go to the toilet and have a shower on).

When I started going on flying trips, transporting a commode was impossible with its weight and size.  To overcome this problem I developed a simple lightweight kit (weighs 1.5kg) that converts my wheelchair into a commode within minutes that can be used as a dunny and in the shower.

The only minor drawback is that if it is used in the shower often the bearings in the casters and wheels may need to be replaced more frequently.  But for the convenience, a few extra dollars is a fair price to pay in my book!

My travel kit includes:

The “Travel Kit” – 1. Padded toilet seat, 2. Bowl, 3. Plastic garbage bag, 4. Hand held shower

1. Padded Toilet Seat.

The padded toilet seat is an off-the-shelf product that I have simply modified by installing an aluminium support bracket at the rear and plastic clips at the front. 

To install the seat, the seat upholstery on my wheelchair is removed by undoing the Velcro straps allowing the seat upholstery to be folded back behind the backrest.   Once this is done, the padded toilet seat then securely clips on top of the wheelchair frame.

Underside of seat – support bar at the rear, clips at the front and rails for the bowl

2. Toilet Seat Bowl
The plastic toilet seat bowl clips in between the plastic rails on the underside of the toilet seat.  It can even hold the biggest loads!

When I go camping, I use a biodegradable plastic bag inside the bowl to contain the contents. It can then be either put down a toilet or buried.  I pity the person who has this job!

3. Plastic Garbage Bag
For showering, I put the plastic bag over the back rest upholstery (the seat upholstery is folded up at the back) to protect it from getting wet. The bag can also be reused several times. Hint: don’t use the perfumed bags!

Wheelchair set up with padded toilet seat & bowl and plastic bag on the backrest

4. Portable Shower Hose
It can be hard to find motels/caravan parks with wheelchair assessible bathrooms or showers, but I don’t let this limit where I want to travel.   Even on the few occasions when I was told the accommodation was wheelchair accessible, then finding out I had no chance of getting in the shower, a lightweight portable shower hose got me out of trouble.   As long as there is a floor waste in the bathroom or even in a laundry (for which I have used many times in houses), the shower hose is easily connected to the spout on sink taps, enabling me to still have a shower in many inaccessible places.

I don’t believe anyone should have to structure their lives based on accessibility, peoples attitudes or any other obstacle that gets in the way. 

By doing things differently; different ideas & willing to have a go, many obstacles can be overcome and I hope this blog may give you some ideas on how to deal with obstacles that you may face at some point.

Happy travelling!

 

 

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