Hi! I’m Laura, 25 years old and from Vienna, Austria. My biggest passion is traveling. I love exploring new countries, getting to know new cultures, and tasting all kinds of food.
Unfortunately, traveling is not easy for me. Due to a genetic disease, I have to use a wheelchair. In my daily life, I rely on personal assistance for most everyday activities and I cannot walk or even stand up on my own.
My dream is to visit Australia and make a multi-week road trip. While my condition is currently stable, it could get worse over time. So to make sure that I can enjoy all aspects of such a trip, I plan to make this journey within the next three years - depending on when I have saved enough money. I plan to start in Perth, drive all the way to Exmouth and Esperance, and then return to Perth via the coast.
Traveling in and with a wheelchair has two significant disadvantages: you have to plan much more carefully and in much more detail, and it is much more expensive.
For the road trip through Australia, I cannot rent any regular camper/mobile home or car. Unfortunately, there are no wheelchair-accessible campers available. As for a standard rental car, I need one that I can enter and exit while sitting in my wheelchair so I do not constantly have to transfer in and out of the wheelchair.
While for a regular rental car, the cheapest rates are around 100 USD per day, an adapted van runs for at least 165 USD, so more than a 50% increase.
A second big aspect regarding costs is that I have to rent a beach-wheelchair, as my own wheelchair is tailored to my everyday life (which, unfortunately, does not involve beaches). I cannot go on the sand with my wheelchair, and thus also not into the sea (and can, in general, not do activities that involve non-solid and non-smooth undergrounds).
I was in contact with a bunch of companies lending (beach-) wheelchairs and only found one that offers them in Western Australia. Usually, the daily rates to rent a beach wheelchair start at around 40 to 50 USD. This means that just to have the same opportunities to visit beaches, walk along the shore, and go swimming in the ocean like non-disabled people, I have to pay about 1500 USD extra.
The third cost factor is accommodations. While, based on my research, accessibility in general seems to be quite good in Australia, I need more than just essential accessibility. Often, rooms and locations already count as accessible if there are no steps or steep slopes. However, I have more requirements – the bathrooms and toilets need to be equipped with proper gear like handrails or a shower chair (not a bathtub). These amenities are often exclusive to more expensive options like hotels of international chains.
Other than accommodations, excursions or tours are often unsuitable for wheelchair users, primarily due to non-accessible buses or boats. While there are tours that accommodate (or are tailored explicitly to) wheelchair users – and usually they are organized very well and have experienced staff – these tours often cost twice or three times as much as the regular tour version.
To give one example: while I could use one of the regular boats to Rottnest Island, If I wanted to stay there for one or two nights, my only option is a five-star hotel, as the other accommodations do not offer properly equipped rooms.
Most of this also affects my brother, who must always accompany me to assist me in most daily activities. Instead of being able to choose more affordable accommodations or tours, he is "forced" to pay the higher prices of the accessible options. Since he would be able to travel for much cheaper without me, I would like to cover these costs for him out of my pocket.
To summarize, on top of regular travel costs, I will need to spend about 5500 Euros on top:
- 2000 USD extra for the rental car
- 1500 USD for a beach wheelchair
- 1500 USD extra for more expensive accommodation options
- 500 USD extra for trips and activities
With your help, my dream could become reality. Any amount helps to extend my trip a little bit, or it allows me to book an additional accessible tour.