Backpacking with Cerebral Palsy
My name is Duncan Tod, I have Cerebral Palsy and use an electric wheelchair. I am currently living at Habitat HQ Hostel as a long-term guest after having returned from living overseas in beautiful Vancouver, Canada. The following paragraphs detail my own personal experiences of living long-term in a Hostel environment with a physical disability.
As a very experienced international traveller, I have stayed in many Hostels around the world but there is something really special about Habitat HQ. For this reason, I felt compelled to share my experiences of such a positive place to stay. I have lived at Habitat HQ for 6 months and very quickly it become not only a place to stay but a home. From the moment I arrived, the Hostel Manager and her staff went out of their way to welcome me and accommodate any individual needs that I had. Having such a positive and forward-thinking management team with a ‘can do’ attitude makes Habitat HQ Hostel the best place I have ever stayed. The Hostel has won a myriad of Tourism and Backpacker industry awards which is a testament to my above sentiments.
I’m always extremely humbled by the positive experiences and the feeling of inclusion I receive from fellow guests at Habitat HQ. Before I came to stay at Habitat HQ, I was a little anxious about how I would cope sharing a dormitory with so many other people and more importantly I was unsure of how others would feel and react to this. So many young travellers have never come into contact with anyone in a wheelchair or Disability. I share a dormitory with up to ten people at a time and I have always been made to feel so included by everyone and am considered by all who know me as ‘just one of the lads’. I continually find that within a very short period of time, my fellow roommates and guests perceptions, positive or negative, are completely transformed. I am extremely grateful and humbled for this.
As a wheelchair user, I highly recommend Habitat HQ Hostel to any other travellers with Disability. All areas of the Hostel are fully accessible to a wheelchair. There is a wheelchair accessible bathroom with a roll-in shower and grab rails both in the shower and at the toilet. The kitchen is huge with plenty of space for wheelchair users to access fridges and prepare meals. The coin-operated laundry and outdoor entertaining area are all accessible to wheelchair users.
Habitat HQ is always abuzz with social activity. There is a weekly timetable of nightly events to mix and mingle with fellow travellers. These weekly events include Trivia, Karaoke, Mario Kart, free BBQ and more. There is even a licensed Bar! I am always willing and encouraged to take part in all activities and have developed a reputation for belting out a classic tune on Karaoke night! The Management team at the Hostel enjoying marking special occasions during the year and organise themed parties such as Christmas in July and Halloween.
A stay, whether short or long term at Habitat HQ is an absolute must for anyone in a wheelchair or with Disabilities!