Wheelchair Accessible Beach Travel

We love beach fun…and beach wheelchairs to add mobility and adventure to our travels. New Mobility magazine features our family as well as a variety of accessible beach options in this issue. beginning on page 42. We share a favorite spot near Gulf Shores, Alabama.

Beach Wheelchair

Go to page 42…In Gulf Shores, AL with a powered beach wheelchair.

Is your beach trip planned?

We are always on the lookout for accessible travel options. Where is your favorite beach paradise? Does it have accessible features and beach wheelchairs available?

Please share!

Wheelchair Travel – Accessible ‘on’ the Beach

beach-wheelchairRecently, we attended a conference on the Alabama-Florida border – at the beach. We have been to this conference a number of years and always enjoy this lovely trip to the Perdido Beach Resort and the Gulf Shores area.  We also enjoy the resort’s complimentary manual beach wheelchair.

This year we took our wheelchair travel to an entirely new level by renting a powered beach wheelchair from beachpowerrentals.com.

Let me tell you – a powered beach wheelchair is the bomb! The freedom to move around on the beach, walk your canine assistant and hold your husband’s hand is absolutely exhilarating! What a wonderful experience to use a beach wheelchair with power and have sandy independence. The experience of a mile long walk/roll down the beach without someone pushing me was priceless!


On our honeymoon and many times since, Brent, my husband, and I have walked on the beach together in a manual beach wheelchair, but never in a powered one. The power gives a sense of independence even when parked on the beach. I can’t explain why, but knowing that you have the ability to adjust your position or move a couple of feet makes a difference in the way you feel about your independence. Not only that, Brent was able to easily walk out to the beach with me and I carried beach supplies while he enjoyed the sand.

Manual beach wheelchairs are great, but they are not always easy to maneuver! They require extra effort on top of the work walking in soft sand requires. Having power makes all the difference in maneuverability and independence. This chair was a blast and could go fast.

I learned of such powered beach wheelchairs at local parks when we were in San Diego, but had never seen anything like it on the East Coast.

More about the beach wheelchair travel

– There is plenty of power and stability in this chair.
– The seat and back are padded.
– The joystick can be adjusted for left or right-hand maneuvering.
– The foot rests are adjustable and the back can recline slightly.
– The company adjusts the footrests, joystick, armrests, etc for individual comfort upon delivery.
– Multiple sizes are available to accommodate different bodies/frames.
– The battery life was never an issue although a charger is delivered with the chair.
– Thankfully there are wheelie bars to prevent tipping over when climbing in soft sand – and when driving like crazy to soak in every moment.
– For five dollars a day an umbrella is supplied. It is a large umbrella that shields the sun from everywhere except perhaps your feet. Well worth it, even in October.
– These chairs are also sold by the company…just bring a truck or trailer to transport it.

I suspect that people who have never driven a wheelchair might have a learning curve, but an experienced wheelchair driver can go directly on the beach without difficulty.

More on the experience

I used the chair three times for about two hours each! I would’ve stayed longer but the sensitive skin on my bottom could not handle the cushion that came attached to the chair longer than about two hours. It would have been advantageous if I could have put my own custom cushion on the chair – there would have been no stopping me for a 12 hour day on the beach.

The company brings the large chair 15 to 20 miles from their location and multiple day rentals were discounted. Also, to defer delivery charges you can drive to their location and enjoy a large area of undisturbed beach parkland at Ft. Morgan, AL.

Yes. We will do it again.
I can’t say enough about how much fun it was to be on the beach in a power chair! I will definitely do this again and am forever grateful for this priceless experience. If we ever lived on the beach there’s no way we would be without a powered beach wheelchair!

If you are planning a trip to the beach, consider the area around Gulfshores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan, Alabama. All I can say is I’m thankful and wish all beach towns offered this fabulous service.

Do you know of beaches where powered beach wheelchairs are available?  Please share!

Merino Wool: The Warmest Fabric

For several years I have relied on SmartWool’s Merino Wool layers to provide winter warmth.  I am not an avid winter sports girl, in fact, I can barely stand being outside for an hour in the dead of winter.  I am paralyzed due to a spinal cord injury.  One of the side effects of my injury is that I get cold easily.  In fact, I can be cold even when my body is truly warm.  I know it sounds like an oxymoron but you just have to live the life of someone with a high level spinal cord injury to understand.  Starting in October I count the months until April and cherish each warm day.  In September, I brace myself for the blowing of cold winds and prepare for the winter chill – even in my moderate southeastern U.S. climate.194

I’ve searched high and low for every kind of heater, warm weather gear and warmth gimmick, and I seriously don’t care much about the electric bills in the winter.  I’d rather sacrifice other things to keep warm.  Once the air dries out and the temperatures drop there is nearly a constant background noise in my head whispering, ” I’m cold”.  It can be a rather annoying.

I discovered my favorite find for cool weather clothing a few years ago when I read an article about how wool keeps you warmer than synthetics and why wool is such a great fabric.

smartwool micro

People say it’s itchy, but they haven’t experienced fine merino wool made by companies like SmartWool, Icebreaker and Ibex.

I wear wool all year.  In the heat of the summer I have a couple lightweight wool tee shirts that I use as the perfect shirt.  It keeps me comfortable in the air conditioner and cool outside in the heat.

The Pros and Cons of high quality merino wool

  1. Warm:  It is by far the best solution I have found to keep warm!  In the winter I always layer with a lightweight SmartWool or Icebreaker shirt and add a mid-weight merino wool top over that.  I consider these my base layer and then if needed I put on the sweater or shirt I plan to wear on the outside.  I don’t do well with coats because they are binding on my arms, so this is what I wear all day inside and out with the exception of adding a vest occasionally.
  2. Odor resistant: Whether you perspire or not, this fabric is extremely odor resistant and does not need to be laundered often.  I wear my shirts for a couple weeks at least…  And I mean I wear the shirt underneath whatever I’m wearing for two weeks straight without washing it!  It may sound gross, but I promise even if you perspire you will be surprised how long it takes before it smells!
  3. Soft: You’ll never know you’re wearing wool!  This fabric feels a lot like cotton with stretch.  It is very comfortable and soothing.  I’ve been known to wear my lightweight wool to bed in the summer!
  4. Durable: These pieces do not wear out quickly.  They are high quality and well made.  If you have a few, you can wear them every day for multiple winters!
  5. Requires minimal care: Like I said above, you don’t need to launder them often.  My recommendation is not to launder them unless needed.  Give them the sniff test.  They are machine washable and can go in the dryer!   Sometimes I don’t put mine in the dryer and they will hold up better with fewer washes!  I have, on occasion, taken a piece that is a couple years old to the cleaners to have them freshened up.  The dry cleaners have a way with wool and can remove any pilling.  For every day care I simply lay my shirts out at night!  They can be folded or hung up for storage.
  6. Worth mending: Because I wear one of three light weight shirts next to my skin all  winter I have taken a couple to the dry cleaners to mend an elbow hole.  I’m always leaning on my elbow!
  7. Temperature regulating:  Choose the right weight and they will keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter.



  1. Limited selection of color and styles.
  2. Price: Find a sale!  I buy most of my merino wool on sale.  At first I paid full price for a couple pieces, but now that I know I love the product, I buy on sale and clearance!  I often get it as gifts!  There is nothing like a great pair of warm wool socks for any cold nature friend!  Price is probably the reason every cold natured person doesn’t buy high quality merino wool.  Full-price for a lightweight item like a long sleeved shirt is $70-90.  A mid weight ¾ zip shirt can run $90-120.  A wonderful pair of socks can run $25-30.Smartwool Women's PhD Snowboard Medium Sock

If you are not convinced to make an investment in high quality merino wool clothing, treat yourself to a pair of SmartWool socks, then decide on your next piece.

Stay warm and share your tips for beating the cold below.


Tahoe Loves a Trip

When we take a trip like our recent Florida family beach gathering, Tahoe’s attachment to ‘dad’ increases as Brent is in charge of late night or early morning walks if I’m in bed and has increased responsibility with Tahoe as we navigate new situations such as a trek on the beach.

…or time by the pool when I can snap a quick photo. Thank God for my iPhone.

A bench by the beach is the perfect ‘cool’ resting place and time for a snapshot of the duo.

Tahoe loves Sand Key’s Dog Park where he can run forever with his Kong. He needs an occasional break to lay in the shaded sand. I’d be there too, but sand + power wheelchair = disaster, so I stay on the paved platform and grassy areas if we aren’t sporting a beach wheelchair (available for free at the park).

Once I get into the beach wheelchair Tahoe helps by pulling it across the sand as Brent pushes.  Some areas have powered beach wheelchairs, but not here in Clearwater Beach…

Tahoe loves time with everyone – but especially mom and dad together!

Tahoe enjoys a sunset…even if birds kept swooping down toward him. One night a bird actually hit my head! Whoa!

Tahoe looks like he is a little sleepy and ready to leave his zoo of hotel towel creations. Swans, elephants, cats, dogs and flowers all visited our room.

We can’t wait for our next beach adventure…For now, Tahoe’s sticking right by me like the devoted helper he is…until our next adventure with his dad.  Hope you have summer family adventures planned, my friends.  Enjoy.

With love  -Madge