Alvaro is an avid traveler, cofounder of Wheel the World, and has a physical disability. He shared some advice and guidance with us about the best shower wheelchairs for travel:
“Shower and bathrooms are always an issue for people with a physical disability. Each of us, with different disabilities, has a different technique, different equipment, and different assistance needs when it comes time to take a shower.
In my case, I am tetraplegic. I need assistance to transfer and the best solution for me is a bathroom wheelchair that lets me enter my roll-in shower to be able to shower. Some people require a bench or shower seat within the shower and they transfer to that seat. For those more daring, all they need is a plastic seat placed in the shower, or simply to transfer to a cushion on the shower or bath floor.
Many people wonder how those who need a shower wheelchair go about traveling. Is it possible to fold it up and take it with you?
The answer is yes, but not always.
Some shower wheelchairs have been designed specifically to be able to store easily for travel. I’ve had the opportunity to try out many different options. In this article I want to share the best alternatives for those who are looking for a travel shower wheelchair.
Disclaimer 1: The order is random and I’ve mentioned pros and cons of each option. As we know well, every disability is different, so we want to give as many details as possible so that you can decide based on your needs.
Disclaimer 2: Like a lot of adaptive equipment, these chairs are expensive. 🙁 Some governments offer subsidies for them and all of these chairs last a long time. I’ve had mine for ten years.
Disclaimer 3: When traveling by plane, these aren’t carry-ons and should be checked like other baggage. The good thing is that airlines can’t charge you to check a shower wheelchair because it’s essential mobility equipment. Don’t let them charge you extra!
This chair is easy to put together and take apart. In just 5 minutes, you can put it together. The first time can be a little difficult, but then it becomes second nature.
This shower wheelchair can also be used in the bathtub. A slider attaches to the chair so that it can be placed in the tub without leaving the chair. It’s functional and very useful for when there is a bathtub and not a roll-in shower.
What could be improved on this chair? Its weight, bulkiness, and its carrying case. The case has wheels, but it’s very big and if you bring all of the parts including the slider, it’s a bit heavy. On long trips it can be uncomfortable to transport and it takes up a lot of space in the trunk of a car.
This modern and ergonomic chair was designed thinking about smaller bathrooms and narrow doors. It has big wheels that allow users with functional movement in their arms to push themselves independently.
The best thing about this chair is its weight and how easy it is to store. It’s mostly made of plastic, which makes it much lighter than its aluminum alternatives. It has an innovative design which takes less than a minute to put together and take apart. It has a compact bag that’s easy to transport and lighter than its counterparts. It’s so light that it’s a little weak and easier to break when traveling on an airplane, for example (the bag, not the chair).
The con of this bathroom wheelchair is that it’s so compact that people with reduced mobility may not feel secure and stable when seated in the chair. It has a low back and the seat is a bit low (49 cm of space), so using a taller than normal toilet isn’t possible. It could be uncomfortable for caregivers assisting people with their digestive programs.
In summary, this chair is a great solution because it’s compact and easy to set up, but it’s not for everyone. It doesn’t meet certain requirements for people with less mobility (for example, tetraplegics) that need more assistance and mobility.
The BathMobile Chair, from the same brand as the Wheelable Chair, is the less compact and autonomous sister that is more stable and comfortable for people with less mobility. It’s still very light (more than the Goes Anywhere chair) and it is as easy to transport and store as the Wheelable. The most complicated part of this chair is the height of the chair, with a 47cm space between the seat and the floor. It’s less than the Wheelable, which keeps it from fitting over some toilets. Accessible toilets in hotel rooms are often higher than normal (designed with the elderly in mind). This can be an issue for those who use this chair.
Although this chair has small wheels and was designed to be used with assistance, a user with more mobility can change them to larger wheels to be able to push it. But, these wheels will not fit in the carrying case.
This model of shower wheelchair is compact when it’s stored away and has a relatively small carrying case. It’s stable and made to be assisted like the Goes Anywhere and BathMobile chairs. You can adjust the height of the chair and therefore the space between the seat and the floor from its legs. It takes about 5 minutes to set up and one person can do it easily. It’s easier to set up than the Wheelable and the BathMobile and a little simpler than the Goes Anywhere.
It’s case is easy to transport and tough, although it’s a little heavy compared to the Seatara chairs. From my point of view, this seems like the best solution for those with less stability like me, because it has other optional features like a headrest and seat belt.
These are four options of shower wheelchairs that can be folded up and stored in a transportable case to bring with you on a trip. It’s important to mention that there are many people with a physical disability that can make it work without needing one of these chairs while traveling. If that’s you, traveling is even easier :).
If you know of any other shower wheelchairs that are good options, don’t hesitate to reach out to us so that we can improve this article! Wheel the World is a community that invites everyone to participate and share experiences for a more accessible world.”