When you travel, you need a roof over your head every now and then. If you use a wheelchair, the hostel around the corner is usually not enough, even if you are a modest adventurer. There are smaller and larger thresholds lurking everywhere, which are not always easy to overcome, and the space required to turn and turn your “ride” is not always guaranteed in such an environment. Especially when you have the electric wheelchair with you, you immediately weigh 140-180 kg - and that without a passenger! This vehicle moves around a hotel room like a tank off-road. Smaller thresholds, such as those on the balcony or in the shower area, are quickly rolled flat. If the space is too tight, it can be traced later on the walls and furniture.

The following tips are based on these and similar experiences on my travels with manual and electric wheelchairs.

Wheelchair pictograms are often shown in catalogs and websites to indicate barrier-free rooms or infrastructure. What barrier-free means or includes is interpreted very differently around the world. Therefore, when booking accommodation, it is important to ensure that your needs are met. At the latest if you need barrier-free sanitary facilities and/or are traveling with an electric wheelchair, it is advisable to clarify the required needs with the accommodation in advance and, if necessary, have them confirmed in writing in order to avoid discussions.

When choosing accommodation, I generally recommend booking accommodation comparable to 4-star or 5-star hotels. In this class, there is a high probability that declared accessibility actually meets these requirements, in the room, the sanitary facilities and the entire infrastructure. In this class you can also rely on the fact that minor “defects” such as a missing shower chair will be easily remedied.

Experience has shown that in lower classes there are always smaller “obstacles” to be expected, especially when it comes to sanitary facilities. The room size in the so-called wheelchair rooms can also be tight, especially for electric wheelchairs. The same applies to the lifts related to size and weight.

If you stay in accommodation “outside civilization”, e.g. bungalows over the water or elevated bungalows, the weight of 250-300 kg on the base of the wheelchair can be a critical size.

This is an example of how different the driving surface can be in a hotel complex.

Wooden panels designed to reinforce the terrace so that the e-wheelchair doesn't crash through the ground.

Ramps are also not always available and outside of “civilization” are often assembled “quickly” in the form of a makeshift solution. Here too, care must be taken to ensure that the total weight of the wheelchair and person is taken into account with larger spans. If the gradient is excessive, the wheelchair should be secured from tipping over by one or two people from behind.

Connecting paths that consist of natural paths can become critical - especially when it rains. A surface that is softened by excessive moisture can cause an electric wheelchair to get stuck very quickly. The same applies to soft earth, sand, gravel and snow. On sand and gravel with a shallow depth - approx. 5-10 cm - and firm ground, driving may still be possible, with slightly impaired steering due to the sinking front and rear wheels.

“Small” ramps/rails are available commercially, which you can take with you on your wheelchair and use as needed.

I would definitely clarify all of these points before booking.

    Barrier-free room in a 4 star hotel

  • Best shower/toilet in a hotel so far.

  • Room size is small for a manual wheelchair, too small for an electric wheelchair.
  • Balcony doors too narrow, therefore not accessible with a wheelchair.

Example of an exemplary hotel infrastructure (5 star hotel) which has no restrictions for wheelchair users.