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-   -   son broke his leg 3 weeks before our 25 day trip to Europe, need wheelchair rental info. (

tbbeach May 12th, 2008 06:58 PM

son broke his leg 3 weeks before our 25 day trip to Europe, need wheelchair rental info.
We will be traveling in Paris, Barcelona, and Rome. As I said, my son broke his leg and although he is on crutches I think it will be difficult for him to survive all of the walking we had planned. (boo, hoo!! We thought of canceling our trip, buy hey..I guess that's life)
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

swisshiker May 12th, 2008 07:05 PM

Hello tbbeach :)

I'm so sorry this has happened so close to your departure.

As you are traveling to three different countries, wouldn't it be easiest if you rented a wheelchair from home before you left, checked it onto the airplane (certainly the airlines have a place for wheelchair stowage), and then you will have the same one throughout your trip.

You don't want to have to hunt one down when you get to each location.

Bummer, for sure. But at least he'll be three weeks into his healing by the time you leave.

If he's in a cast, is there any provision for a seat with more legroom for him on the plane?

Happy travels!

twk May 12th, 2008 07:25 PM

My sister broke her leg (rather badly) about four weeks prior to a planned trip to Scotland in 2006. We had to cancel, and rescheduled the trip for 2007 (adding a week in London to the start of the trip, and taking along our nephew). She was walking, but was still a little bit lame and used a cane. I can't imagine what a nuissance it would have been to try to do the trip with a wheelchair. It can be done, but you really need to plan it out and be prepared to change your plans.

adeben May 12th, 2008 07:34 PM

I suggest that, if the trip looks too hard for your son, you consider leaving him at home: If he goes to Europe later with two good legs, he'll probably enjoy it more.

Les May 12th, 2008 08:27 PM

Just back from a month in Paris, with a wheelchair for my wife (she can walk, but only for short distances).
We found that it was easier (and probably cheaper) just to buy our own here in the States.
Check with Spinlife (there are other companies, of course - Google is your friend). We got a lightweight Invacare folding wheelchair from Spinlife for $249 (free shipping). Depending on the length of your trip, I doubt that you could rent one that cheaply.
It'll be extremely helpful at airports (you can bypass long lines for security, and board planes before anyone else), and at museums (in Paris, we bypassed the ticket lines at d'Orsay, and got free admission to the Louvre). It's not at all a nuisance on planes - push it right down to the door of the plane, they'll take it and put it in with the cargo, and it'll be waiting for you when you land.
I certainly wouldn't cancel a trip for fear of using a wheelchair.

kerouac May 12th, 2008 10:11 PM

tbbeach May 13th, 2008 05:39 AM

Thank you so much for your advice. This is a good lesson for others who may plan trips far in advance (we have been planning for a year and did not purchase insurance).

To elaborate...We are a family of 5, Mom, Dad and three teens, 18,16,and 13. The 16 year old fractured his leg in two places skateboarding; metal plate,13 screws, fractured tibula and fibula. We are going to Paris, Barcelona, then Rome where we board a 12 day cruise for the Greek Islands ending in Venice.

Since we really do not want to cancel and he is a strong boy (who knows what a difference the next 4 weeks will make, he may be in a walking boot by then)Here is what we will do....

I will check in to an upgrade for him into Business class. I'm sure that will help him to have more room. Thanks for the suggestion.

I will also check in to the lightweight wheelchair. Thanks for the information. I was thinking I need a giant umbrella stroller, nice and light!

On the positive note he has noticed that pretty girls at school that hadn't paid any attention to him are now very attentive! A cast and a wheelchair can be quite a chick magnet for a cute 16 year old boy..Bypassing lines doesn't sound bad, free entry sounds better and worst case scenario we sit in a cafe, watch people walk by, sip on a glass of wine and toast to life!

Thanks for your shoulders to cry on and your helpful advice.

Attnymom May 13th, 2008 06:25 AM

A friend of mine who has two children in wheelchairs visited Paris last year. A couple of things she told me might be helpful: First, they brought the smallest wheelchairs they could because the larger ones wouldn't fit in the elevators. Also, because the metro stops usually have lots of steps, they used the boats up and down the Seine to get where they wanted to go. The boats were much more wheelchair friendly.

Good luck!

MomDDTravel May 13th, 2008 06:44 AM

tbbeach - I am so sorry! I have an 11 year old dd that just had foot surgery - I know how hard it can be.

I would not leave him home - sounds like a fabulous trip that will need to be taken at a different pace.

Such is life in a family of five :-)

I do suggest buying the wheelchair here and bringing it with you as well.

Even if he is in the boot by then, he will get tired easily imo and will need to be able to rest. You do not want to set his recovery back.

Best wishes and do let us know how it goes.

GSteed May 13th, 2008 07:22 AM

How about an electric scooter?

bozama May 13th, 2008 08:03 AM

I hope he is in a walking boot by the time you go, many bathrooms are "downstairs" in cafes and restaurants in Paris. I also advise against metro and for buses, the boat bus is not the greatest as there are often no ramps to get down to the Seine, stairs again. You will waste time looking for ramps.
I love Paris, but it is not a wheelchair friendly city, I used to work with disabled, so each time I go I am surprised at how little progress has been made in making Paris assessible. Partly due of course to the fact Paris is old, and there is nothing you can do to alter some things, fair enough, but even the sidewalks rarely have the ramps needed to assess them. Many hotels have impossiblely small elevators, and it is not uncommon to have hotels with elevators that do not go right to top floors, or in the case of the last hotel I stayed at, the elevator was three steps up on a raised area in lobby!! LOL Check with your hotel, let them know you are bringing a wheelchairs, there are rooms so small you will not get a wheelchair in the room!
Lucky your son is young and strong, and I bet he will likely be able to hop around some, so even a few stairs won't be a huge deal for him as he is not actaully weak or disabled,you are just bringing wheelchair to give him a break from lots of walking.
I bet you will all have fun anyways, but there will be a bit more work and planning involved.
Hope you post back and let us know your experiences, I am sure they will be helpful to many others.

Best luck and enjoy the sidewalk cafes!!
PS If you decide to go to Versailles, they have golf carts for rent on the grounds, that would be fun.

FainaAgain May 13th, 2008 09:23 AM

I broke my foot and had to cancel, but got many replies to my post on Fodor's advising me not to, and some posters said "I went to Europe with a broken foot/leg" so I assume it's doable.

It is very important to keep the leg up to reduce the swelling in the foot. So please plan the days to come back to the hotel for him to have a mid-day rest. If he doesn't want to, pretend to be tired yourself.

Good advice about buying a wheelchair instead of renting. Maybe you have 2nd hand stores in your area, buy one, and leave behind. Or check Ebay.

swisshiker May 13th, 2008 09:27 AM

Excellent suggestion, Faina, for purchasing a second-hand wheelchair. ((y))

When my mother needed a cane, walker, etc. after her knee replacement, I went to the Goodwill and Salvation Army stores.

I was amazed at their selection, and the prices were great.

It seemed foolish to pay full price. Many people use these mobility devices for limited periods, then get rid of them when they're done.

MomDDTravel May 13th, 2008 09:41 AM

I have not had any luck with our goodwill store here - but it is located VERY close to Leisure World one of the largest retirement communities on earth - could be why. :-?

I cannot stress enough what Fania said about resting. dd's foot continues to swell - it is elevated and icing right next to me right now...

FainaAgain May 13th, 2008 09:48 AM

Also, think of his bathing. Will he be able to balance on one leg to take shower? Maybe a small folding chair in luggage?

MomDDTravel May 13th, 2008 09:51 AM

Yes, a lot of places in Europe only have showers - perhaps on the cruise as well. How will he do naviagating around hte curise ship?

kerouac May 13th, 2008 10:06 AM

<b>even the sidewalks rarely have the ramps needed to access them</b>

I beg to differ. Every single corner of every single intersection in Paris has been lowered to make it wheelchair accessible, and I see wheelchairs out on the street every day, often independently, crossing the street with no problem whatsoever.

julia_t May 13th, 2008 10:42 AM

What a thing to happen just before your long-awaited trip! You have my sympathies.

Be careful about buying a secondhand wheelchair. You don't know how it has been used etc.

A few years ago one of my sons broke his ankle and badly damaged his heel and foot just before a trip to Venice. He had an astracast to hold everything in place but because of his heel injury he was unable to walk on it. We live in England and I was able to hire a wheelchair from the Red Cross. It was supposed to have been checked over and 'serviced' but bits of it were loose and fell off, we had trouble with the footrest on one side and it just seemed quite 'wonky'. My son at the time was a small 13yo and not very heavy.

If I had to do it again I would bite the bullet and buy a new wheelchair as it will take a bit of a bashing on your trip. I don't know what the cost would be in dollars, but your trip sounds like it will be at least 3 weeks - divide the cost by the number of days you will use it for, and I think you will find it worth the expense.

Above all make sure it will fold easily and is not too heavy.

You say you are going to be in Venice at the end of your trip - OK, this will be difficult as there are many bridges as you probably know, but they are ALL stepped. A few bridges do have wheelchair lifts. We got a key to operate these lifts at the airport, but they don't always work due to humidity, and when they do they are VERY slow. My son would get out, hop or use the crutches that we carried as well, and then I would have to heave the chair up and over. It was not an easy time in Venice. But we have an excuse to go back and see all we couldn't then!

Vaporettos are very easy to use with a wheelchair however. Just wheel them on and off! Also we used the traghettos, my son would hop on with help, I would fold the chair and carry it on to the traghetto. We also took a gondola ride, though we planned it so my son could get there on his crutches.
We went to Murano, Burano, the Guggenheim museum was manageable, we went into St Marks, and the Frari, but more was difficult.

One good thing came out of it all - while trying to research Venice with a Wheelchair I discovered fodors!

I have posted on previous threads on the topic so have a search here, as others have posted links to other helpful websites. There is one by someone called Durant Imboden (not a name to easily forget!) who has lots of useful information.

I hope this helps a little, and I wish you all the very best, and your son a speedy and successful recovery.

historytraveler May 13th, 2008 10:53 AM

Several years ago I was in Paris in a wheel chair and didn't have any problems. In fact, we got two free admissions to the Louvre (for person in wheel chair and the person wheeling them),and we also received free admissions for two people. We also visited the Eiffel Tower and took a boat ride on the Seine. I can honestly say we encountered no problems.

The people were wonderful. If there was a negative it was the wear and tear on the wheels incurred while rolling over the cobble stones.

I'm sure your son will manage very well.

julia_t May 13th, 2008 10:56 AM

Type VENICE WITH A WHEELCHAIR into the search box above and there are several threads about it.

If you try the same with Rome, Paris and Barcelona you'll probably find more help.

Good luck!

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