How To Enjoy An Outdoor Festival With Limited Mobility

Group Near the Stage at Inkcarceration Festival

Do you enjoy listening to music and want to attend an outdoor music festival but aren’t sure that you will be able to navigate the crowd? Is the terrain uneven? Will there be accessible porta johns ?

Will there be a place in the shade to rest and catch your breather? Is there a place to charge your medical devices? Can you take your supplies into the venue? The endless questions might be enough to keep you at home and stop you from getting out this summer but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Where To Start With Your Festival Travel Planning

Know what you like and where you want to go. That may sound simple but if you have a disability you may have forgotten this basic fundamental element. There is a possibility that you have changed what you like to do to accommodate others’ interests, to make it easier on the people around you to take you places.

If you want to go to the Inkcarceration Festival in Mansfield Reformatory this summer and think it’s not possible, well it is. 

Research: Find Out Everything You Can

Google, Bing, Duck-Duck Go. Use all the resources that you can to find out more about the venue. Talk to your friends who have gone, go on Youtube and watch footage, check out the event venue webpage, search through Facebook  feeds.

Find out everything that you can. Don’t forget to make your own personal list of limitations. There are many different contributors to mobility difficulties. Whether it be COPD, being overweight, or having lost part of the use of your lower extremities.

Some Things To Consider When Doing Your Research:

  • Does it take place over multiple days?
  • Does the venue offer special seating or access for individuals with disabilities? Check out their website. 
  • Traveling in a vehicle for extended periods of time may be difficult. Do you need to plan for frequent stops? Or arrange a special mode of transportation?
  • Transferring in and out of a wheelchair? Will you need help or special assistive devices like a transfer board or a hoyer lift? You may need to contact the hotel to see if a room accommodation is available. Ask if they have a lift for you to enjoy the pool or spa. If there is a big event in town, plan to place your reservations early or you may not have the access you need.
  • Do you need to take your motorized wheelchair? Or can you use your manual chair. Think about your stamina. You might be able to use your crutches but will it limit you from enjoying your time out due to becoming exhausted from the energy you will expend to use them? Consider your choice in this area carefully. You certainly don’t want to be too tired to enjoy all the fun. It may be worth checking in to see if the venue you are attending has motorized carts or chairs available. When my mom was having trouble with her breathing due to COPD, she didn’t consider using the motorized carts at the store. When she finally decided to give it a try, she was able to spend more time shopping without getting tired. Remember, you are going there to enjoy yourself, try to find the best way to accommodate that.    
  • Ask your family, friends and any caregivers for suggestions. They probably have a lot of helpful suggestions. Ask your doctor if you have concerns that you are unable to answer on your own. They might just have a solution you never thought about. 
  • Do you have the right shoes? Birkensocks might be “in” but will they keep you stable and without throbbing feet? Plan for shoes that are equipped to keep you moving, not put you on the sideline. 
  • Most of all, don’t be afraid to ask for help from your friends, family, the hotel, and the venue. 

After you think you have all the information that you need. Write it down or tell your Google assistant, Siri or other digital assistant to take notes for you. Bookmark webpages to revisit later.

Who Would Be the Best Person to Share the Event With You?

If your mom is not the person who would enjoy headbanging, piercing and tattoo’s then she is probably not the person who would help you get the most of enjoying yourself at an outdoor music festival.

Is there someone else you would love to share the event with? Ask them if they want to go. Offer to share the cost of admission or travel. If all else fails, is there paid help that might be able to accompany you or could you handle it on your own with planning ahead? Check-in with some of the local home health agencies that may be able to help you connect with a care giver to accompany you. 

Timing Can Make or Break the Best Laid Plans

Unless the event is this weekend or next, you have lots of time to get online and find out what you need. If you start planning now, and are committed to going, you have plenty of time to prepare for the event.

Plan to Put Your Research into Motion

Know what you need to take with you and know your limits. Everyone who attends a huge outdoor music festival should know their limits. Many forget this part after getting there and starting to enjoy themselves. That may not be an option for you.

Staying hydrated, wearing sunscreen and finding shade are necessary for all. Knowing your own needs is going to be the key to you getting there, staying there and being able to brag about your experience. 

What To Do If Things Don’t Go As Planned 

Plan B. I am not talking about the morning after pill but if you might need that, pack it too. Seriously, having a back up plan on how to deal with problems as they arise and sharing it with your companion will make life easier.

You may need to give your fellow attendee a crash course in emergencies or just plain uncomfortable things that may happen. If you are going to wear a catheter bag instead of depending on a bathroom to be near, well your friend might need to know how to help if you get jostled around and need to make an adjustment. Your companion might need to remind you that eating is important to your blood sugar. 

Are You Letting Your Mobility Issues Stop You From Having Fun

You might be thinking at this point that this is far too much work or that you cannot possibly enjoy yourself because of your limitations. Break down your fears and talk about them. Troubleshooting anticipated problems ahead of time might help you feel better prepared. Consider a trial run at a local exhibit or event if that will help you build confidence.

Don’t Forget All of That Planning That You Have Done

You are the expert at what you like and what you need. Don’t be afraid to take charge and stay strong in what you want and need. Pack as little or as much as you want. Just don’t forget what you absolutely need. Especially if it’s medical supplies that have to be special ordered. Make that checklist, check those things off and get ready to go.

Take Pleasure in All the Hard Work You Have Done

The planning part can be the most exhausting part of attending any event, whether it is a day or 10. However, if you have taken the time to pack those aviators, bought yourself that awesome retro t-shirt, and have a plan that will work for you, the time away will be absolutely refreshing experience. You will be happy that you took the time to do something for yourself. 

Give Yourself Kudos for What You Have Accomplished

Take down notes on what worked well and what didn’t so you can use them when planning your next excursion. Perhaps everything didn’t go exactly as you planned. Maybe you forgot your shampoo.

Maybe you had to get your doctor to call in your inhaler to a pharmacy close to the event because you left yours sitting on the bedside table. Even the best laid plans can have hiccups. Learn from your time away.

Consider Sharing Your Expereince to Benefit Others

Make a comment on Google or the venue website. Consider sharing your personal experience so that others can more easily navigate their way through the venue.

Maybe there were five bathrooms, but only one was accessible and you had to take too much time finding the one that was. Was the hotel exceptional to meeting your needs? Let them and others know by posting a Yelp review.

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