If I was to tell my younger self that one of the biggest hurdles of my adult life was to book travel accommodations my younger self would laugh in my face. But yet, every year there is a challenge.
Back when we traveled every summer with two other families it was finding 3 cottages on one lot (that wasn’t a huge resort with multiple cottages). Now it is that alongside accessibility challenges and an adult who can’t drive as far due to his own disability. In short, a tall order.
But even when I do get it right, I get it wrong. We originally planned this weekend in the early spring and of course I thought I had done all of the due diligence with asking about accessibility. However, every time I ask I learn that I either need to be more clear about my needs or that the owners need to be more clear about how inaccessible their property is.
When I first emailed the place we stayed this past weekend I said that I do have mobility issues but that I can manage a step up as I walk with sidearm crutches and have balance issues. So the owner recommended one cottage and I went ahead and booked it. Sadly, the cottage was THREE incredible steep/tall DIY’d steps up, no railing, and the deck was a minefield of holes where the wood had rotted through. He offered us a smaller cottage with one step but it was on a bit of a hill I couldn’t get down and it had no deck at all. I ended up taking the first cottage and getting up the stairs by sitting on the deck, swinging my legs onto the deck and then using a picnic table to push up to standing. Not ideal but from there the entire cottage was on one level, so…partial win?
But as it turns out, the entire property was pretty inaccessible, the cottages were far apart and on steep inclines and even my able-bodied friends had challenges walking around. There were also no lights on the property and it was right up against the highway. One of the other parents said, “If I had booked these cottages and I had small children, I would be pissed that the cottages were next to the road.” The pictures make it look like all of the property is flat and on even ground & secluded but there was no way to even walk to the beach without hiking up and over a hill, so that was a challenge.
We usually do these weekends for the kids so that they can get out into nature and run around with their friends but I would be lying if I didn’t say I felt a little cheated by the entire property. In the end it rained the entire time we were there so it worked out since no one could really go outside and enjoy the fall weather. Also, since we had the larger cottage everyone came to me to hang out, so again, a win.
I wish that it was law to actually post the accessibility availability for all rentals. Not forcing owners to actually have accessible places (but with an aging population, there is definitely a need for that!) but to indicate how wide doorways are, if there are ramps, if the stairs are to code etc. as well as to mention if the grounds are flat or sloped. I feel like the pictures we saw on the website really bait-and-switched us into renting places that were unlike what was described. A non-accessible example would be that two cottages claimed to have loft spaces but the ladders of the loft were rickety and dangerous and once my kids got up to look around, it was basically a plywood platform. Not the fun hideaway they thought it would be. On top of that, one of our friends had non-potable water and had to run to our place to fill bottles. Had they been alone and all of the other cottages had been rented to strangers…what then?
It seemed to be a mishmash of nightmares but since we were already there we decided to make the best of it. We did end up having a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner that Mr. Tucker cooked, the kids got to run around with other kids, the adults spent Friday night up late chatting and we all got some fresh air and a change of scenery. Honestly though, my favourite part of the weekend was driving there and back. I could have saved myself $900 by just tossing the family in the car and going for a long country drive instead.