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Ray and I are back home in Florida after a five-week road trip to visit Yellowstone National Park, family, and friends. It was great, and we’re both worn out!

Here are our lessons learned for traveling with an IBM’r who requires a patient lift for transfers: Finding suitable hotel rooms was the biggest challenge. Open bed frames are a must. This is a bed frame that similar to the one you probably have at home where you can push things under the bed. We stayed at three different hotel chains during this five-week trip: Candlewood Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, and Microtel.

Hilton Garden Inn’s are very comfortable and plush, and we believe that there is one accessible room per hotel that has an open bed frame. The front desk and Hotel manager will probably tell you that there are no suitable rooms, but housekeeping will let you know which room you need to reserve. Our favorite!

Candlewood Suites are a good alternative, and (at this time) they can be counted upon universally to have open bed frames. The king suite was phenomenal, but most have only a queen accessible suite…not so roomy, but quite livable. Full kitchen with dishwasher, refrigerator, stove, microwave, dishes, and cooking utensils is included. High door thresholds were a problem for us in every Candlewood suite. This problem could be overcome by placing a yardstick on the floor next to the threshold.

Microtel is for the budget minded traveler, and it’s a little tight but with the required open bedframe. Good for a quick overnighter.

We travel with an Invacare 450 lift. Our Toyota Sienna van was converted by VMI, and it gives Ray a few more inches to maneuver than any other conversion. Its roomy interior allows me to push the lift and shower chair behind Ray’s power chair (which is in the passenger front seat position.) The Invacare lift has front wheels that are 4.5″ high, and that’s usually the most clearance you’ll get under hotel beds. The lift is huge, and we always request a roll-in shower…it’s a good storage place for lift and shower chair.

With low pile carpeting in wheelchair accessible hotel rooms, pushing a 250-pound man in a patient lift required muscle on my part. I suggest that anyone traveling with a patient lift should give it a trial run on a local hotel room before making extensive travel reservations.

We are looking forward to the next trip, and we’re planning a cruise out of Baltimore next fall into the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway. Cruises are a wonderful vacation option for IBM partners!

If you are looking for more information about traveling with disabilities, one resource you can visit is http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/go/disabilities.html

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This is the official #MyositisLIFE account of Myositis Support and Understanding Association (MSU),  a patient-led, patient-centered, all-volunteer 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded by myositis patients for myositis patients and caregivers.

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