My Wonderful Trip to the Accessible Florida Keys

With the insane number of COVID-19 cases rising, especially in New Jersey, I’m sure everybody is feeling the same way about traveling. When can we go on a vacation again safely? It seemed impossible. After some careful consideration, however, my parents decided to pack up our stuff, get into our minivan and drive as far south as possible. We knew getting on a plane was risky, yet the thought of staying home during winter break felt suffocating. We decided to drive someplace warm and quiet. Surprisingly, we made it all the way to Florida and ended up in the Keys. The Florida Keys are at the southernmost point of the state. It was absolutely beautiful! It felt like we had just gotten off the plane were in the Caribbean. I have been to Orlando before, but this was a completely different island vibe!

Being that it was such a last-minute trip, we were nervous about how well I woud get around in my Quantum® Edge 3 Stretto® Power Wheelchair. We assumed that because the Florida Keys was an older area and developed so long ago, there wouldn’t be many accessible options. We were pleasantly surprised!

Accessible Hotel Rooms

There were ramps everywhere and the resort and hotel made it so that I had the best time possible. Every single pool in the area had a transfer chair to help disabled people get into the pool with ease. The restaurants all had proper accommodations and there was accessible parking everywhere. The hotel we stayed at gave us a room that had shower chair so I could easily shower. Normally, it is very difficult to shower when I’m on vacation because there’s no room for my shower chair. The hotel that we stayed at however gave us everything we needed to have a comfortable visit. Surprisingly there weren’t many people around. Since we could stay outdoors for most of the day, it was a very safe way for me to take a vacation.

Going to the Beach with My Stretto Motorized Wheelchair

I quickly discovered that because the sand on the beach was so tightly compact, my Stretto Power Wheelchair, which is quite heavy, could roam the entire beach without getting stuck. I spent days going from one end of the beach to the other. It was such a surreal feeling. This is something that I’ve never been able to do before. We also visited Anne’s Beach, which had a mat from the boardwalk running to the very edge of the ocean. I could practically put my feet into the ocean from my power wheelchair. Although I didn’t get to experience it, there are accessible boat charters where you can actually take your motorized wheelchair onto a boat and go visit the smaller islands.

Overall, I think the Florida Keys are an overlooked vacation spot. For those of us with disabilities, it truly is a game changer. I’m so glad we made the decision to take the drive and enjoy the great weather, beautiful scenery and easy access to everywhere I wanted to go. 

About Sakina Shamsi: Sakina lives in New Jersey with her parents and brother. Although she has spinal muscular atrophy type II, Sakina lives a full and independent lifestyle. She is active in the disability community and enjoys horseback riding, baking and crafting. Click here to learn more about Sakina.

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