10 Wheelchair User Tips for Navigating the Mall during the Holiday Season
Posted by ROLAND REZNIK on December 08, 2016. 0 Comments
The crowded mall is the last place many shoppers want to fight through to purchase gifts. However, most people end up spending at least several hours at a mall during the holiday season. Navigating the mall in a wheelchair can be a challenge. The following tips will help you create an enjoyable shopping experience at the mall during the Holiday Season for wheelchair users.
Be prepared to battle against the crowds by creating an itinerary. Print or download a map from the mall website and begin planning your route. Make a list of the people you need to shop for and choose stores that have gifts they would be interested in receiving. Section the mall into sections on the map and focus on only visiting the stores you choose.
Time Your Trip
The weekdays are generally less crowded at the mall compared to weekends. Mornings and afternoons are generally less crowded Monday through Friday. Malls are usually crowded from open to close throughout the weekends. Try to visit the mall on the less busy days during the week.
Find a Parking Space
Most malls provide plenty of handicap parking spaces. However, this is also the time of year that malls are overcrowded making it very difficult to find a suitable parking place. It is also the same time of year that stressed out shoppers are desperate for a parking place and use the handicap space at their convenience. Drive around the parking lot to search for a handicap space. If you can’t find one you should consider using valet parking. Most malls offer valet parking as a convenience to their customers. If valet parking is at full capacity you will have to search for a standard parking space.
Navigate Around Large Crowds
Once you enter the mall you will need to navigate around the crowds. As a wheelchair user, you will want to stay on the outer edges of the crowd. Shoppers usually walk at a fast pace through the mall during the holiday season. If you try to keep up with the flow of traffic by going through the center of the aisle, you will become surrounded by people. This will make it very difficult to get through and can even cause you to get disoriented. Stay on the outer edges for more control and easier navigation.
Use your map to locate the mall elevators. They are usually located towards the center and ends of the mall. These elevators are usually quite large and capable of holding plenty of people. You might find yourself waiting in line for quite a while due to the crowds and high demand of the elevator. A secret tip is to try to use the department store elevators instead. They are usually less crowded and have a shorter wait line.
Food Court Challenges
The food court is the main hub of the mall. Almost everyone flocks to the food court at one point during their visit. The problem with food courts is the seating arrangements. The tables and chairs are usually located extremely close to each other which make it very difficult for wheelchair users to navigate through. The food court is also overcrowded making finding a table in the first place quite a challenge. One easy resolution is to have a friend find a table and create a path for you. Another option is to skip the food court and eat at one of the restaurants in the mall that have a dining room. The restaurant staff will surely find a table for you that are easily accessible.
The holiday season crowds at the mall also cause extremely long restroom lines. Waiting in line for your turn is one thing. However, waiting for people to get out of the accessible stall is another story. Usually, people are polite and try not to use the accessible stall when they see you need it. But be prepared for the one desperate person that will jump in front of you and run towards it. To play it safe, once you reach the front of the line, you should sit outside the accessible stall to assure you get the next opportunity.
The holiday season is also a busy season for criminals. Malls are the perfect place for criminals to find prey to attack. Generally, criminals are looking for people that leave their purses open and bags unattended. To keep yourself safe hide your wallet or purse between your leg and the arm rest. It makes it very difficult for people to grab your wallet if they can’t see it and don’t have access to it. Also keep your shopping in your storage bag on your wheelchair. If you are nervous about becoming a victim of theft, you can take a quick online self-defense course for wheelchair users. You will learn great tips for keeping yourself safe.
Avoid the Crowds
The crowds are usually centered in the pathways of the main part of the mall. If you don’t want to get caught up in the madness you can choose to shop at a department store that has parking lot access. Some of the main department stores such as Macy’s provide this luxury. If possible, you can choose to do your holiday gift shopping at this one store.
Reduce Shopping Anxiety
Shopping anxiety is something most people experience sometime during the holiday season. You can reduce your stress by taking short trips to the mall. You can also visit different areas of the mall each time during the calmer days and hours. This will help reduce stress and make your shopping experience more pleasant.
Creating a plan is essential to navigate the mall during the holiday season. You will also want to remain calm, choose to eat at a restaurant instead of the food court and take advantage of department store elevators. Enjoy your holiday shopping and make the best of your experience this season.