Hi, I’m Toby. I have Spinal Muscular Atrophy and am a power wheelchair user. I’ve just got back from an incredibly relaxing week in sunny Greece. I stayed at Thesseus apartment, which was just perfect for my needs, and as close to the beach as you could wish for. It was a great change from my home in London where the traditional English summer has been serving up a treat of cloud, rain and wind this August.
I used Accomable to book my week in Greece, who are like Airbnb but only for accessible accommodation. You can filter your search by specific accessibility requirements like whether they have a hoist (hoyer lift) available, roll-in showers, shower chairs etc. and find accommodation that really works for me instead of having to ‘make do’. In the past 18 months alone I have booked stays at Homelands (Scotland), the beautiful Calf Shed (England) and Thesseus apartment (Greece).
Thesseus was perfect for me, with 2 bedrooms, one for me and my boyfriend Chris, and one for my PA. The bathroom has a roll-in shower and shower chair, grab rails by the toilet, sink and shower, and plenty of space to move around. I could also hire other equipment (mobile hoist and wheeled shower chair) I needed from the owners to save me having to bring my own.
The apartments are right by the beach, with wheelchair access straight onto it – there is decking overlooking the sea, and even a ramp right into the water with free access to a sea wheelchair. It was absolute bliss!
The best part is that I also list my apartment on Accomable, so that when I’m away I can rent it out and it helps to pay for my own holiday. It’s great that I can offer my own place to someone who needs the adaptations I have such as the electric profiling bed, roll-in shower and accessible kitchen.
I think that being a wheelchair user myself, it gives people confidence that they will really be able to easily use my apartment without the normal worries that you have as a disabled traveller. It means I can usually cover the cost of my accommodation wherever I decide to go while my apartment is rented, which reduces my travels costs and actually enables me to travel more!
These are my top tips for renting your home out:
- Write a good description of the accessible features and ensure you have pictures of all of the ‘dealbreakers’ such as the bathroom, entrance, any equipment people might be able to use and anything else of significant interest, as well as general photos of the kitchen and living space.
- Make sure you have adequate insurance. If it’s your own home then it’s unlikely your home/contents insurance will cover it for short term rentals such as this. You’ll need to use a company like Guardhog who specialise in insurance for the sharing economy to cover you for the days that you do rent it out.
- Make sure it’s clean and tidy for the people you have coming to stay, I’m pretty sure you’d expect the same for somewhere you book to stay in. You can add a cleaning fee to the bill the cover the cost and time for this (be reasonable with this). Also make sure you provide clean bedding and towels. If you have a lot of personal items then you may want to think about putting these in a lockable room or cupboard to reduce the chance of damage and reduce clutter.
- Make sure you answer all of the traveller’s questions and then arrange how they will collect the keys and who they will meet. Sometimes I arrange for my PA or friend to meet them as I’m already away, or I need them to leave the keys somewhere for me when they leave. Depending on what your home is like, lots of people choose to have a key safe fitted so that this is easier. It’s also useful to write up a guide to your home and the local area; how the heating works, the dishwasher, when the bins need to go out, local restaurants and taxis etc. The idea is someone is getting the benefits of staying in someone’s home and their local knowledge and when you have accessibility needs, this is even more important.
- Leave a welcome treat. Seeing as someone is staying in your home, it’s nice to leave them a welcome treat such as some milk, tea and coffee, fresh flowers, a loaf of bread or something sweet. Imagine what you’d appreciate if it was you arriving.
- Enjoy your holiday!
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